The Kashmir Great Lakes trek takes you into the heavenly realm of the high mountains with endless pastures, and of course, the Great Lakes. You will journey through its aquamarine lakes and climb over high altitude passes to have one of the most memorable experiences of your life. An overwhelmingly beautiful trek; it's possibly the best way to explore the vistas of Kashmir.
Kashmir is a prominent destination by itself. Its natural beauty is vastly celebrated throughout history in poetry, photography and art. It’s love at first sight for everyone who visits. From the bright wildflowers that dot the countryside, the jewel-like lakes, the endless horizons of hills and mountains to the wide blue skies that blankets it all, Kashmir is a true paradise on earth.
On this Great Lakes of Kashmir trek, you’ll witness the beauty of 5 of the most famous lakes of Kashmir – Vishansar, Kishnasar, Gadsar, the still waters of Satsar and the twin lakes of Gangabal.
The day will have you walking through forests of maple and hiking through quiet meadows teeming with blossoming flowers. You’ll camp on the banks of pristine lakes under a cloak of stars. You’ll see fat trout swimming peacefully in clear lakes and rivers and watch, mesmerized as the blue skies darken to dusk.
You’ll witness first-hand what mountain life is like and will have a chance to meet the indigenous Kashmiri people, experience their food, culture, and hospitality. Some itineraries include a stay on a houseboat, trout fishing, or a day in Gulmarg.
There are many adventures waiting to be tried in Kashmir, so if you’re planning your trip, take a look at our blog post on Top Things to Do in Kashmir. If you’re visiting between June and August, you should definitely check out rafting in the Zanskar, where some of the best and most dramatic white-water rafting stretches are available for you
Most Kashmir Great Lakes treks commence in Srinagar. From there, the operator will take you to Sonmarg. Here, the day is spent acclimatizing. You can relax and conserve your strength. The next day, your trek begins.
You’ll head to Nichnai, then to Vishansar. After that, you’ll proceed to Gadsar, Satsar, Gangabal, and Naranag. At each of these destinations, you’ll be camping in the wild, close to the lakes. On reaching Naranag, a vehicle will be waiting to drive you back to Srinagar. Your trip ends in Srinagar, and you’re free to either fly home or stick around and soak in more of the Kashmiri beauty.
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one of the top treks in Jammu Kashmir. Due to its popularity, there are many variations on the itinerary. Some itineraries begin from Leh and includes the transport to and from Srinagar. Some packages include a night in a houseboat in Srinagar.
The Kashmir Great lakes trek is a moderately challenging one, because there are some long days of trekking, about 6-7 hours each day, and you'll experience altitudes just over 13,000 feet. However, it can be done by fit first-timers if they are prepared to walk long distances
If you’re thinking about doing this trek, read our blog about How to Prepare for High Altitude Trekking.
On some trekking days, you might need to show your documents and ID proof at army posts. Your operator will complete all these formalities, but there might be some delays, so be prepared for the wait. The operator will send you a list of documents required, do make sure you carry everything as instructed.
Day 1: Srinagar to Sonamarg
Day 2: Trek to Nichnai
Day 3: Trek to Vishansar lake
Day 4: Acclimatization in Vishansar
Day 5: Trek to Gadsar
Day 6: Trek to Satsar
Day 7: Trek to Gangabal twin lakes
Day 8: Gangabal to Naranag
Today you'll be journeying for three hours on a ride from Srinagar to Sonmarg. You'll be picked up from Srinagar at 15:00 hrs. The scenic route will captivate you and will give you a taste of the numerous beautiful sights that you'll encounter over the next few days. You'll spend the night camping in tents near Sonmarg.
You'll set off on your trek today, entering into the wild through a meadow that looks over Sonmarg. Here onwards, civilization will be far behind you and you'll spend the next week in the embrace of mother nature. You'll walk through undulating meadows, and through maple and pine trees.
You'll then eat lunch at Shekdur, under the green canopy of Bhoj trees and resume your trek onwards to Nichnai. Your campsite rests in a valley, with the river Sindh gurgling nearby. Silence will be a welcomed friend, as you spend the night in tents beneath the glittering sky.
Today, you'll be journeying into the meadows and it will be a long walk. You'll trek through Nichnai Pass, which is a bit of a climb as it stands at a mighty 13,500 feet. You'll begin to sense the altitude as you ascend. The trail descends soon enough, so you'll feel better in no time.
The trail leads you into a flower carpeted meadow with a flowing river. With the Himalayan ranges as the perfect backdrop, it's truly the most picturesque scene. Nestled below the mountains is the Vishansar lake. The lake is teeming with trout and you can hear the soft splashes of them swimming around as you camp for the night on the banks.
Today you'll ease off, relax and admire the beauty of the lake and its surroundings. After conquering the vast meadows of Nichnai, you will have earned this day of rest. You can take a few short walks around to help you acclimatize.
The colour of the lake changes as per the time of the day; the sight of which is magical. It is colourless before sunrise, a crisp blue in the afternoon, and a vibrant turquoise in the evening sun. Spend some leisure time fishing or spotting trout in the lake. A permit for fishing must be obtained in Srinagar. Overnight in tents.
Today you'll be tackling a steep ascent and while scaling up, you can admire the views of the Vishansar lake. You'll trek through a meadow, and then along a ridge, from where you can spot the Kishansar lake. This is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in all your selfies and landscape photography.
After that, you'll scale down and enter a sprawling meadow overlaid with bright red flowers and beautiful blue irises. You'll be camping here, or beside the Gadsar lake for the night. You may have to be patient as the trek guides arrange permissions from the army camp nearby, but there's plenty to see and do. Overnight in tents.
Today you'll be heading to the first Satsar lake. Crossing the stream from the army camp is the most viable option. Thereafter, the terrain flattens out, and you'll be able to spot the craters of Maengandob, formed by ancient meteorites.
Beyond the ridge, you'll find the Satsar army check post, which is the third defence from LOC. Further away from the army camp is first of the Satsar lakes where you'll be camping. Overnight stay in tents.
Today is all about lakes. The Satsar lake is a cluster of seven lakes; the views of which are going to be the highlight of your day. You'll trek along a twisting trail and ascend the ridges to get some of the greatest sights of your Kashmir Great lakes trek.
Hereafter, you'll trudge down to the crystal-clear waters of Nundkol lake, where a glacier slides down the side of the mountains. From here, you'll cross the stream over a bridge to get to Gangabal which is 20 minutes away from Nundkol. Overnight in tents.
Today marks the end of your trip. As you descend, you'll walk through a meadow dotted with yellow blossoms and you'll hike through a small pine forest. Soon you'll begin to notice signs of civilization. You'll spot a log hut here and there and your phone will start to pick up network again.
The last 4 km are a quick descent, more than 3000 feet. As Naranag slowly materializes into view, you'll cross the paved village track and enter the main road with a smile on your face. Here you'll board vehicles and be driven back to Srinagar with a head full of memories that will last a lifetime.
Your Great Lakes of Kashmir Trek includes accommodation in tents on triple sharing basis along with sleeping bags and mattresses. You’ll be provided meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 8 and you will have the choice of veg/egg. Kitchen, dining tents and toilet tents will be pitched.
All arrangements of permits will be done as needed. You’ll be under the supervision of qualified and experienced staff and there will always be oxygen cylinders, first aid and medical kits on hand. You’ll also have porters/mules to carry common equipment. Your trip is all-inclusive of applicable taxes.
Transport from Srinagar-Sonamarg and from Naranag-Srinagar is not included in your trip but it can be arranged for INR 1400. A hotel stay or any accommodation in Srinagar and food during transit will have to be arranged by you.
Mules or porters to carry personal luggage will not be provided but can be arranged for INR 300 per day per bag for a mule and INR 600 per day per bag for a porter. Your trip also does not cover insurance or personal expenses of any kind.
Day 1: Arrive in Leh
Day 2: Acclimatisation day in Leh
Day 3: Drive from Leh to Sonmarg
Day 4: Trek to Nichnai camp
Day 5: Trek to Vishansar lake
Day 6: Explore Vishansar
Day 7: Trek from Vishansar to Gadsar
Day 8: Trek from Gadsar to Satsar
Day 9: Trek from Satsar to Gangbal
Day 10: Trek from Gangbal to Naranag, return to Sonmarg
Day 11: Drive to Leh
Day 12: Depart from Leh
Your flight will land at Leh airport in the morning and you'll be picked up and driven to your hotel. Here you can unwind after your plane journey with refreshing welcome drinks. A hearty breakfast later, you can spend the day lounging in your room or in the garden to help you acclimatise to the altitude. Overnight stay in the hotel.
Acclimatising today at Leh gives you plenty of time to soak up the sights and culture of this mountain town. After breakfast, you'll spend the day visiting Shey Palace, Thiksey monastery, and exploring the Leh market. This will also give you the necessary gentle exercise and help you acclimatise completely. Overnight in hotel.
After an early breakfast, you'll set off for Sonmarg. It's almost 350 km and should take about 8 hours to get there. The drive to Sonmarg is peppered with awe-inspiring views: the conflux of the rivers Zanskar and Indus, Basgo fort, the caves at Saspol, the Lamayuru gompa, and the two famous passes of Fotu La and Namik La.
After you've passed Zoji La, you'll notice the change in the landscape. The green meadows of Sonmarg are a welcoming sight. You'll check into a hotel here for the night.
Today you begin your Great Lakes of Kashmir trek. After breakfast, you'll take a short ride to the starting point of the trek. You'll ascend through maple trees, breathing in its sweet fragrance, past billowing meadows and quiet rivulets to reach the Bhoj tree-lined Shekdur pasture. You'll have lunch here; the meal will be even more appetizing as you eat surrounded by lush greenery and mighty mountains.
Wave civilization goodbye as you trudge along a rocky section and up to the gorgeous Nichnai meadow. You'll enjoy your first night of camping here.
Today, there's a lot of fun in store for you. You'll be journeying to the first lake of the Great Lakes of Kashmir trek. You'll climb up to Nichnai Pass which stands at 13,500 ft, and then descend to a river crossing.
You’ll walk past a waterfall and through meadows blanketed with alpine flowers to finally get to Vishansar lake. The lake is 1 km long, and half a km wide. You'll be camping beside a stream that flows into the lake. Overnight in tents.
Today you'll be exploring the Vishansar Lake and its surrounding sights. The lake is a beautiful blue during the day and there are many pretty trails around the campsite to walk through.
You can take the time to acclimatise and practise the steep climb to the nearby Kishansar lake. Tomorrow you'll climb to Gadsar pass, the highest point of your trek at 13,800 feet, so be sure to rest up. Overnight in tents.
Today you'll be gearing up for an intense climb to Gadsar pass. It'll be soothed by the stunning views you'll set your eyes on when you reach the pass. Don't forget to look behind you during the ascent to catch the splendid sights of Vishansar lake.
The descent from thereon to Gadsar lake is easy and is a picturesque spot with blue irises peeking through the lush meadows all around. You'll be camping close to an army camp, a little beyond Gadsar lake. Overnight in tents.
With all the climbing you've done in the past 3 days, your muscles will easily carry you over to Satsar. Satsar is a cluster of seven lakes and it takes a bit of a climb to reach here but it's worth it. You'll be camping nearby, close to the first of the lakes.
Today you'll be climbing about 13,000 ft. to the Zajibal Pass. It offers you magnificent views of Harigandan lake, Harmukh lake, Harmukh mountain (16,500 ft.) as well as the big and small Gangbal lakes. After you've admired the views to your heart's content, you'll walk onwards to Gangbal lake. You'll be setting up camp here for the night.
Today is an all-descent day and the last day of trekking. You'll trek down 4000 feet to be welcomed by the sight of vehicles waiting at Naranag to take you to Sonmarg. You can catch your breath and rest your legs for the short 60 km drive to your hotel where you'll spend a peaceful night
Today you'll be driven back to Leh. You can kick your feet up and relax in the vehicle and take in the views as you drive past them. By evening, you'll be checking into your hotel in Leh. Overnight in hotel.
Today you'll be driven to the airport for your flight back home. Your trek to the Great Lakes of Kashmir may end here but the memories will live on forever
Airport transfers in Leh are included in your Great Lakes of Kashmir trek package. All transport as per itinerary is available in non-A/C vehicles. Your accommodation is on a twin-sharing basis at hotels in Leh and Sonmarg. During the trek, you will be camping in alpine tents. There will always be professional guides and camping crew to assist you.
You will be provided with all meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner from day 1 to breakfast on Day 12 and drinking water during the trek. You will also be able to avail porters for your personal luggage for the maximum weight of 15 kgs. Other things included in your trip are applicable permits, fees and taxes.
Any flight costs or tickets, sleeping bags and items of personal clothing, gears are excluded from your trip. Expenses of personal nature like laundry, phone calls, alcohol, insurance, camera fees, etc. will have to be arranged by you.
Your trip excludes any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions. The operator will not be held responsible for any other circumstances beyond his control.
June to September is the best time to embark on the Great Lakes of Kashmir trek. Wildflowers are in full bloom on lush green hills and lakes are brimming. During these months, the daytime temperature is 17-20 degrees Celsius and at night it drops to 3-6 degrees
Pick up point:The pickup point may vary as per your trip, but most Kashmir Great Lakes trek begins from Srinagar. There are many flights available to board from Delhi or Mumbai. Alternatively, you can also take a bus or train.
Start point:The starting point of this trek is Sonmarg and it’s a three-hour ride away from Srinagar. The cost of vehicle transport from Srinagar to Sonmarg may or may not be included, as per your operator
The Kashmir Great lakes trek requires you to trek for a total distance of 159 km, hence, comfortable trekking/hiking shoes are of utmost importance (shoes with a thick sole are recommended) along with a good pair of trekking pants. With temperatures dropping as low as -6 degrees Celsius, wear thermal inner wear and dress in layers.A good quality wind and waterproof jacket can also help you battle the climate.
Your operator will supply you with all the camping gear required but you’ll have to carry your own clothing among other things. Make sure to pack sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, gloves, socks and jackets. Bring along your own toiletries and also carry sun protective gear
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek being graded moderately challenging involves long hours of walking and climbing great altitudes. Hence, some fitness preparation before the trek is a must. Regular strength training or aerobic exercises can be undertaken.
Prior trekking experience helps but energetic and strong beginners will be able to manage the Kashmir Great Lakes trek if they are willing to walk for 5-7 hours each day. It includes high altitude trekking at over 13,000 feet. Hence, this trek is graded moderately challenging. There may also be some scrambling over boulders.
This trek is suitable for groups of friends, families with older kids, and couples. Lovers of Nature and those craving a blissful escape will enjoy this trek. It’s every nature photographer’s dream and they can shoot vast landscapes of lakes, hills, mountains and endless blue skies, with hardly any people in the frame.
A complete list of gear and clothing to carry will provide to you by your operator. You’ll be required to carry some documents and proof of identity for the check-posts. Make sure you have enough layers to keep warm as it can get really cold at night.
The best time for the Kashmir Great lakes trek is from June to September when the hills are lush green, the wildflowers are blooming, and the lakes are full. During this time, the daytime temperature is 17-20 degrees Celsius, dropping to 3-6 degrees at night.