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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek (2021)

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Travellers Best Choice 2020 – Trip Avisor

We will not begin with anything less than saying that Kashmir Great Lakes is one of India’s prettiest, most scenic, and pristine treks. The trek is a Himalayan trek in Kashmir Valley and is commercially known as Sonamarg-Vishansar-Naranag Trek. Kashmir, without a doubt, is a place of utmost beauty, simplicity, and untouched terrain. Add it with Kahwah tea, snow-capped mountains, glacier-fed rivers, blue-green lakes, orchards of apples, and all shades of colors; it turns into heaven on earth. Treks in Kashmir are not just a way to challenge yourself or become physically fit but also a means to find your life’s purpose: Kashmir Great Lakes trek is precisely made for this. 

Starting from Sonamarg, this moderate trek on a seven-day succession (approximately 80 km) will take you through 11 alpine lakes, lush green meadows, movable flocks of sheep, giant mountains, lakes fed by glaciers, and multiple other unbelievable wonders of nature. Every day will be a blessing here – as you will cross different sections, you will get glimpses of Mount Harmukh, Gadsar Peak, Mount Vishu, Maple and Pine forests, various Himalayan animals like Common Leopard, Himalayan Marmot, Black Bear, and myriad varieties of flowers and trees. 

Here is a brief itinerary of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek with Plan the Unplanned:

Trip Highlights

  1. Meet fellow travellers and kick off your journey from Srinagar to Sonamarg
  2. Acclimatisation in Sonamarg
  3. 360-degree view of mountains from the Valley of Nichnai via a famous tabletop 
  4. Learn the fine art of Camping
  5. Soak in the refreshing sunrise and sunset in the company of Pine and Maple forests.
  6. You will probably spot bears in the Bear Valley; get to see a wide variety of flowers in the Valley of Wildflowers.
  7. Kishansar and Vishansar Valley.
  8. Reach the twin lakes in Gangabal Valley by crossing a boulder section

Photos

Trek Details

  • Trek Altitude: 13750 ft
  • Trek Type: High Altitude Trekking
  • Trek Grade: Moderate – Difficult ( Difficulty level is subjective )
  • Trek Duration: 6 Nights/7 Days
  • Trek Distance: 70 – 75 km ( split over 8 days )
  • Trek Start Point: Sonmarg
  • Trek Pickup and Drop: Srinagar ( Tourist Information Centre )
  • Pickup Start Time: 1 – 2 PM
  • Drop-off Time: 6 PM (approx) ( Book return flights post 7 PM )
  • Cellular Network: Only POSTPAID Airtel/JIO Sim work. Prepaid Sims don’t work

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek - A Overview

Day 1: Srinagar to Sonamarg   

Day 2: Sonamarg to Nichnai  

Day 3: Nichnai to Kishansar/Vishansar Valley  

Day 4: Kishansar/Vishansar Valley to Gadsar  

Day 5: Gadsar to Satsar  

Day 6: Satsar to Gangabal  

Day 7: Gangabal to Naranag  to Srinagar

Price Inclusions

  • Accommodation in tents/homestays on twin sharing basis
  • Meals – All meals from dinner at Sonamarg on Day 1 to lunch at Naranag on Day 7 are included. 
  • Camping Charges ( All permission and Permits )
  • Trekking Equipment – Sleeping bags, Sleeping Mattresses, Toilet Tents & Kitchen Tents.
  • Staff – Trek Leaders, Cooks and Helpers
  • Safety equipment – First Aid Kit, Oxygen Cylinders etc

Price Exclusions

  • Accommodation at Srinagar
  • Transportation to and fro from Srinagar – Additional ( Rs 1000 – 1200/person would be charged )
  • Offloading Charges – Rs 2000/person in case you wish offload for the entire duration of the trek
  • Travel Insurance or any kind of insurance
  • Any kind of personal expenses
  • Any expenses arising due to unforeseen contingencies landslides, curfew, government order, or natural disasters.

Medical Declaration

  • All participants are required to submit a medical certificate approved by a registered medical practitioner prior to the trek.
  • Apart from this we highly recommend you having an adventurous spirit and willingness to undergo the joys & hardships of outdoor camping, in addition to good physical and mental fitness, to completely enjoy the trek. If you suffer from severe muscular, chest, heart or bronchial ailments, we advise you against participating since most treks happen in remote areas with limited access to medical services & hospital facilities.

Things to Carry

  • Trekking Shoes ( Do not carry sneakers/ sports shoes. Carry shoes that has good grip and ankle support)
  • Backpack (40 -60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for a backpack is essential.
  • Daypack 20 litres: On the day of the summit, you’ll need a smaller backpack to carry water, snacks and your medical kit. Bring a foldable backpack.
  • Layers/Warm Clothes/Thermals
  • Trek Pants/T-shirts/Undergarments as per your convenience. Carry the actual number required and stay light
  • Sunglasses, Suncap, sunscreen.
  • Hand gloves, socks 2 pairs and woollen socks
  • Headlamp/LED Torch is mandatory
  • Trekking Pole
  • Poncho/Raincoat
  • Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. ( Mandatory )
  • Personal Medikit
  • Toiletries: moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes.
  • One 1 litre water bottle.
  • Plastic covers: carry a few extra plastic bags for wet clothes. Make sure you take them back and not litter the mountains.

Advisory

Covid Guideline:

    • Covid -ve Certificate NOT Mandatory

    • Epass is not required.

    • Health Screening:
    • Tourists allowed
    • In Srinagar & Jammu Airport Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) will be conducted on all the incoming passengers / Tourist
    • Curfew/ Weekend Lockdown: Sat And Sun
    • Jammu – RT PCR test not required. Srinagar – All passengers arriving into Srinagar are advised to be in possession of negative RT-PCR report of not earlier than 72 hours from an ICMR approved laboratory failing which pax will have to undergo a RAT test upon arrival.

IF TESTED POSITIVE

    • Domestic Quarantine:
    • Travelers from other states are allowed to travel in Kashmir
    • Home quarantine – 14 days
    • For passengers who have a valid contactable phone number with the Arogya Setu app downloaded on their phones till the test results are available.

  • Passenger obligation
  • COVID-19 Negative Certificate is not mandatory while travelling.
  • Passenger is required to fill up ICMR Health form on arrival
  • Passenger is required to undergo COVID-19 Test at the Airport
  • All passengers must download Aarogya Setu App

Safety

  • We take a lot of pride in providing the best safety standards to its trekkers while trekking along with supporting sustainable tourism.
  • Experienced Trek Leaders will be leading the group with a full-fledged first aid kit along with an oxygen cylinder. The Trek Leaders will also be carrying medication pertaining to high altitudes.
  • Our Trek Leaders are experienced mountaineers and we trust their judgments. If during the trek, the Trek Leader advises you against continuing on the trek, we request you to respect his judgment and follow his instructions.
  • Please be informed that trekking is an adventure activity and a lot depends on the weather conditions in the mountains. In case of bad weather or health issues of any trekker at any point during the trek, the trek itinerary will be changed by the Trek Leader after evaluating all the available options.
  • We make sure that our trekkers are informed at all the times and a common consensus be arrived after discussing with the participants, however, the decision of the Trek Leader will remain final.
  • Also, in case of any unforeseen circumstances like landslides or bad weather, we promise to provide services only for 7 days. It will remain the responsibility of the Trek Leader to get the trekkers back to safety irrespective of the number of days, however, the cost will be borne by the trekker themselves.
  • Please be clearly informed that we are committed to providing a safe, secure and a magical experience in raw nature and hence, smoking, drinking and littering is completely prohibited during the trek and on the campsites. People found to be indulging in any of the above activities will be abandoned from the group.

Kashmir Great Lakes - Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Srinagar to Sonmarg

We will start our journey to Sonamarg from Srinagar. Trek Leaders will give a brief of the whole trip. Srinagar lies at the height of 1,585 m and Sonamarg at 2,377 m from sea level. It’s almost a 3 hours journey.

At Sonamarg, we will stay for the night. Day 1 is for acclimatisation; hence, walk around, enjoy the weather, make friends, have a good meal and gear up for the next day.

Day 2: Sonmarg to Nichnai

From Sonamarg, we will go to Nichnai. But, first, have a healthy breakfast that the Plan the Unplanned team would provide and get ready for trekking for 9 km in around 7 hours: This includes 3.5 hours of steep ascent, 1 hour of descent, and finally gentle climb for 2.5 hours to Nichnai at an altitude of 3,505 m. 

It sounds too much, but the panoramic 360-degree views of mountains from the Valley of Nichnai via a famous tabletop will make it easier for you. 

On the way, you will see Thajwas mountain range and Bear valley. Interestingly, Thajwas valley is also known as the ‘Valley of Wildflowers’. Walking on the green grass amidst the Maples is an experience in itself. Set up your camp here with the help of trek leaders and enjoy the company of nature.

Day 3: Nichnai to Kishansar and Vishansar Valley

We will start from Nichnai to Kishansar and Vishansar Valley. It is at a height of 3,650 m, and it will take almost 5.5 hours to climb 13 km gradually. This valley is home to two gorgeous lakes. You can sit here for a while; dip your feet in the pristine greenish-blue water; lose yourself for a while and process the colors of trout fish that are floating peacefully in the lake; watch different flowers by the side of the lake. 

Both of these lakes have a religious significance, and they drain themselves in the Kishanganga River that runs through the Gurez Valley. 

Day 4: Gadsar Valley via Gadsar Pass

From Nichnai Valley, we will cross the Gadsar Pass to finally reach Gadsar Valley at 4,200 m by trekking for around 14 km in 6 hours. From here, you can get a birds-eye view of both the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes. It’s a breathtaking view from there. As you will absorb that view, you will soon get captivated by the long wavy meadows.

The Gadsar lake’s water is considered to have healing powers. If you believe in such things, you are open to bless yourself.

Day 5:Coming down to Satsar Valley

From the fifth day onwards, it’s a much more relaxing descent with mild ascents and descents. The trail is a bit challenging, with some deep craters on the way. From Gadsar, we will cover vast meadows with mesmerizing views of mountains and reach Satsar valley to finally come down at 3,600 m by covering 12 km in 5 hours. 

Finally, you will reach the valley. It is the valley with the most lakes in the area. Set up your campsite and rest for the day.

 

Day 6: Visiting Gangabal and Nundkul Lakes at the foot of Harmukh

Be vigilant during the first half an hour. It’s a steep climb with a boulder section. Via the Zajibal pass, we will go to Gangabal Valley, where twin lakes are silently waiting for you. The pass cuts Satsar Valley and Gangbal Valley. A small climb, then a descent, and a stream crossing leads to Nundkol Lake lying at the foot of Harmukh. Gangbal Lake is at a distance of 20 minutes from Nundkol Lake. You can reach it by crossing the stream: be wary of the flow and consult with the trek leads before taking steps. Both lakes are famous for Trout fishing.

Till now, we have come down to 3,585 m by covering 9 km in 5 hours. So rest for the day and settle yourself in Gangbal. 

Day 7: Descent to Naranag

This is the last day of the trek; so, the excitement to end the whole tour on a good note must be in the mood. From the Gangabal campsite, walk down along the stream. Look back from time to time; you will see that Harmukh Peak looks fantastic. Come to Naranag at 2,271 m. If the time permits, you can also go around and cover the ruins of ancient temples.

Then give us a chance to say goodbye nicely. We are sure that these seven days give you the best memories. Plan the Unplanned team is always happy to see you again; Check out our other itineraries and call us soon. We will wait for your message. Till then, take care and rejoice.

How to Reach

Srinagar is the summer capital, which is between the months’ May and October. It is majorly connected to different parts of India via rail, road and air. Please note that you will have to bear all expenses related to your travel to Srinagar from your place.

By Air

Sheikh ul Alam Airport or Srinagar Airport is an international airport. It is well connected, and airlines offer regular flights from Srinagar to Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh. The airport is just 15 km away from the centre of the city.

By Rail

To reach Srinagar by train, one has to either go to Jammu Tawi or Udhampur railway station. The stations are well connected with different parts of India. 

By Road

By road, Srinagar can be reached from major cities like Delhi (876 km), Chandigarh (646 km), Leh (424 km) and Jammu (258 km). There is good Bus service and Cab service available.

FAQ

I'm a solo traveller, Can I join?

The interesting thing about traveling alone is that you get to meet new people from  diverse backgrounds, and towards the end you are no longer strangers. Hence solo travelers are always welcome to join us on our trips. Read more about solo travelling here and get inspired! https://www.plantheunplanned.com/solo-yet-accompanied/ 

Is it safe for Women/Girls?

Safety and security is our priority at all times. Hence it is absolutely safe for women/girls to join us on our treks and travels. Our trek leaders accompany the team at all times, and our campsites are secured and safe for accomodation. We also have female trek leaders who accompany on most of our treks.

 

How many lakes do you see on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

There are as many as eleven lakes on the trek. But, to cover all these lakes, you will possibly have to stay for more than seven days.

Is it safe to trek in Kashmir?

Yes, it is mostly safe to trek in Kashmir. But at other times, like other places, it might get a little complicated. So here are some pointers to keep in mind when you are travelling from Srinagar:

    • If you plan to stay overnight in Srinagar, stay in touristy areas like Dal Lake or Lal Chowk.
    • In general, try to mix up with the crowd in terms of language, culture, and dressing.
    • Get a guide or travel with an agency. They mostly know about the place in and out.

Can the trek be done solo or without a guide?

The trail is well-marked from Sonamarg to Naranag. Nomadic shepherds will give you directions on the way. Just go prepared with a trekking permit, food, and your tent. 

When is the best time to go to the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

July to September: This is the time of moderate climatic conditions. In all other seasons, the trails of Kashmir are covered in snow. 

What is the temperature at the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

During the daytime, the temperature can go up to 20 degrees, and at night, it can drop to 3 degrees. Therefore, make sure you carry adequate warm and light clothes. 

What is the level of fitness required to do the Kashmir Great Lakes trek easily?

The trek is a moderate one. There are steep paths, rocky terrain, slippery stretches, steep climbs, and straight sections of gradual ascend. To do this trek at ease, start with jogging/cycling every day; take stairs whenever you can; get acquainted with breathing exercises. 

What is cancellation policy?

Here’s the cancellation policy for Himalayan Treks/Backpacking Trips/Road Trips

  • If you cancel before 30 days – 90% of amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 20 -30 days – 75% % of amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 15-19 days – 50%  will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 7-14 days – 25 % amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 0- 7 days before the departure date – No amount would be refunded.

Note: For All The Above Refund Cases Transaction Fees/Internet Handling Charges will be dedcuted from the overall amount and balance amount shall be refunded. You can transfer your ticket to anyone so that you could save your hard earned money

For other trips and travels with us, and detailed terms and conditions check the      following link : https://www.plantheunplanned.com/refund-cancellation-policy