Kashmir Great Lakes Trek (KGL) is considered to be one of the most beautiful treks in India. It was our first multi-days Himalayan trek and we were initially apprehensive about how challenging it would turn out. Unparallel natural beauty, an amazing group and super-amazing trek lead and guide made this as one of the most memorable experiences for us.
There are 7 Alpine Lakes that you experience across Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, each one being prettier than other. It is not only these lakes but white glacier patches, green carpet of beautiful meadows, soulful sound of water streams, company of horses neighing, shepherd and their flock of sheep, and blissful silence – All encapsulates your soul and you feel trapped back in Kashmir even long after returning from your trek.
Please click below to directly go to a specific section in our blog.
- Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Videos
- Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Photo Blog
- Day-1 Trek: Shitkadi Base Camp, Sonamarg
- Day-2 Trek: Shitkadi to Nichnai
- Day-3 Trek: Nichnai to Vishnusar Lake
- Day-4 Trek: Vishnusar to Gadsar (Via Kishansar Lake and Gadsar Lake)
- Day-5 Trek: Gadsar to Satsar Lakes
- Day-6 Trek: Satsar Lake to Gangabal Lake (Harmukh Peak)
- Day-7 Trek: Gangabal Lake to Naranag
- Our Bumblebee story on KGL Trek
- Tips for Planning Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
- Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Charges
- Our KGL Trekking Group
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Videos
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Photo Blog
(Go to the Top) To help you imagine the beauty of Kashmir Greak Lakes Trek (KGL), we have put together a photo-blog for each of 7 trekking days. We will provide a snap-shot of each day below and suggest you to check each day by clicking on respective blogs.
KGL Day-1 Trek: Shitkadi Base Camp, Sonamarg
- Shitkadi Base Camp Altitude: 7,800 ft (2,377 m)
(Go to the Top) Shitkadi, a few kilometers ahead of Sonamarg, is the base camp for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Srinagar to Sonamarg is 2.5 hour pretty drive as you follow Indus River (Sindh River) all along the way. At Shitkadi, we were welcomed with relaxing peaceful sound of water stream flowing next to our camp-site. Here, we joined our fellow trek-mates (23 of us) as we headed to our tents. At this point, we had no idea that within next few days, we all would become such close-knit friends.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-1
KGL Day-2 Trek: Shitkadi to Nichnai
- Altitude: 7,800 ft (Shitkadi Camp-site) to 11,948 ft ( Nichnai Camp-site)
- Distance & Time: ~10 kms and ~7 hours
(Go to the Top) After an overnight stay at Shitkadi, we were excited to start with first day action of our trek to Nichnai. You walk through Pine and Maple forest to reach Table Top, a big meadow (Valley Shekdur). On the way, you get panoramic views of Sonmarg and Thajiwas Glacier. Next comes Bhoj Patr Forest which leads you to Nichnai valley. For rest of the the trek, you walk along a river stream through the valley to reach camp-site.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-2
KGL Day-3 Trek: Nichnai to Vishnusar Lake
- Altitude: 11,948 ft ( Nichnai Camp-site) to 12,000 ft (Vishnusar Lake) via Nichnai Pass (13,500 feet)
- Distance & Time: ~12 kms and ~8 hours
(Go to the Top) Today’s trek ends with a welcoming reward as you reach Vishnusar Lake, first of seven alpine lakes on Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Route. Your initial sharp ascend through boulders soon turns to mesmerizing views with glacial ice on peaks and wild colourful flowers in the valley. Sights gets better and better as you descend down from Nichnai Pass. Flowers keep changing colours, waterfalls from ice-clad peaks nourish water streams and you meet shepherds guiding their flock of sheep far away from civilization.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-3
KGL Day-4 Trek: Vishnusar to Gadsar (Via Kishansar Lake and Gadsar Lake)
- Altitude: 12,000 ft (Vishnusar Lake) to 12500 ft (Camp-site) via 13800 ft (Gadsar Pass)
- Distance & Time: ~10 kms and ~7 hours
(Go to the Top) After experiencing blissful Vishnusar lake, first of seven alpine lakes, this day turns out to be the most difficult of all trek days. Today, you have to negotiate steep Gadsar Pass (13800 ft), highest point of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Though ascent is steep but panoramic views of Kishansar Lake keeps your spirits high as you walk on a path spiraling up on the side of the lake. Thankfully, we had a sunny day and path was dry. If it rains, then it gets extremely challenging to cross Gadsar Pass with thin line path getting muddy and slippery. We had lunch stop-over at Gadsar Lake before heading to our camp-site.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-4
KGL Day-5 Trek: Gadsar to Satsar Lakes
- Altitude: 12500 ft (Gadsar camp-site) to 12000 ft (Satsar camp-site)
- Distance & Time: ~12 kms and ~7 hours
(Go to the Top) By now, we had experienced 3 out of 7 alpine lakes (Read more here: Vishnusar Lake to Gadsar: Via Kishansar Lake and Gadsar Lake) that fall on KGL trek route and today was the day to explore two more pristine lakes of this wonderful trek (two of seven Satsar Lakes). Satsar is a collection of 7 lakes and two of them fall on Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Route. Rest of them are spread in the lap of near-by mountains. In case, you have a spare day, you may trek to few more of Satsar lakes. This day, we had unique experience of walking on snow bridge to cross river stream.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-5
KGL Day-6 Trek: Satsar Lake to Gangabal Lake (Harmukh Peak)
- Altitude: 12000 ft (Satsar camp-site) to 11,500 ft (Gangabal and Nandkul Lakes) via Jaj Pass ( 13,400 ft)
- Distance & Time: ~9 kms and ~7 hours
(Go to the Top) After camping at Satsar Lakes, this day turned out to be the most happening day with us reaching final two and also most beautiful of all lakes: Gangabal Lake and Nandkol Lake. As soon as you reach the top of Jaj Pass, you would be welcomed by amazing view of twin lakes at the feet of mighty snow-clad Harmukh peak. Floating clouds would hinder your view of the peak and lakes but that would add a vibrant dynamism to the overall experience making you feel at top of the world. Finally when you reach Gangbal Lake and camp by the side of Nandkol Lake, things get so charming and overwhelming that you would not feel asking for anything more.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-6
KGL Day-7 Trek: Gangabal Lake to Naranag
- Altitude: 11,500 ft (Gangabal Lake) to 7450 ft (Naranag Town)
- Distance & Time: ~11 kms and ~7 hours
(Go to the Top) We could not have asked for more to end our trek with spectacular beauty of Gangabal Lake. After over-night camping at the feet of Harmukh Peak, we started our last day of trek to reach Naranag. As we left our camp next to Nandakol lake, it was a hike through a grassland. After an initial mild ascend, it was majorly a descend all along the way till Army Camp. Tree-Line also starts from here through which passes trekking trail to reach Dhaba (you will get mobile signals here). Descend here onwards is super steep turning out to be a test for your knees and thighs.
Please note that Naranag to Gangabal Lake is also a preferred small trekking route and it gets crowded during weekend.. So plan accordingly to avoid weekends in case you are seeking solitude. If you are planning reverse route (Naranag to Gangabal Lake), it is very steep ascend and challenging. Have a look at altitude difference on the top (~3000 ft). Please carry ample water, start early and avoid carrying heavy stuff.
Click here to view our Kashmir Great Lakes Trek photo-blog for Day-7
Our Bumblebee story on KGL Trek
(Go to the Top) Our Bumblebee also went with us on KGL trek. Bumblebee was with us till Gadsar Lake and suddenly disappeared after than. We searched for him and even called his name loud echoing in KGL valleys but he did not come back. We feel that Bumblebee decided to stay behind in mountains and not to come back with us in city again. Read our picture story on Instagram to know more about our Bumblebee !!
Tips for planning Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
(Go to the Top) We hope our photo-blogs inspire and excite you to plan your next trek to Himalayas. To help you plan your trek better, we have answered some common questions below. Please feel free to comment below in case you need any additional guidance to plan your trek.
1. What is the best time for Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) Trek?
July and August are the best months for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Kashmir receives rain prior to these months and you get green meadows and colourful flowers during this period. You will find more snow (as it keeps melting) if you go early and more greenery (post rain) towards August.
2. How safe is Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) Trek?
Pretty safe for 3 reasons -1) Unrest usually happens more in Srinagar and South Kashmir. So once you reach Sonamarg and start your trek, things won’t impact you 2) Kashmiris have high regard for tourists and even if there is an unrest, no one harms or bothers tourists (We back-packed in Kashmir through curfew using public transport) 3) On trek route, you will find Army check- posts ready to assist you.
3. Can I do Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) Trek solo?
Yes, you can but not recommended at all. You will not find any civilization for most of the trek and there are chances that you may loose your path. It would be too dangerous. Recommended to go with a guide only.
4. What is the difficulty level for Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) Trek?
Moderate to Difficult: You require good fitness levels for this trek as passes are really steep. We were recommended by Indiahikes for being able to run 10 kilometers in an hour so as to be fit for this trek. We realized that actually this prior preparation helped a lot during trek.
5. What is Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Map?
It is difficult to mark places on Google Map for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek as it does not show any path. We still tried to mark key trek landmarks below. You may figure out the path by referring day-wise itinerary mentioned above.
6. How do we review Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?
Top of the world 🙂 Though it was our first Himalayan Trek but we have back-packed across multiple countries and geographies. This beauty is unparalleled. Strongly recommended !!
7. How do you compare Kashmir Great Lakes Trek with Tarsar Marsar Trek?
We have not been to Tarsar Marsar Trek but as per inputs from our guide, KGL is more difficult compared to Tarsar Marsar. Beauty-wise Tarsar Marsar (with 3 lakes on trek route) is no less beautiful than KGL. So we will suggest to plan both without comparison. You may choose KGL first as Tarsar Marsar is not so frequented a trek like KGL.
8. What kind of shoes should you have for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?
Good trekking/hiking shoes with strong grip. You will be walking and hiking through big ascend/descend passes, negotiating boulder paths. For this, you really need good trekking shoes. Nothing like Sports Shoes. You won’t be walking through snow so may not need waterproof ones for this trek.
For more of your questions, you may also refer FAQ section on Indiahikes website (we trekked with Indiahikes only)
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Charges
(Go to the Top) There are multiple trekking groups that you can select from for your Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. After a quick research, we zeroed in to Indiahikes for our trek and it cost us ~INR 14K per person for the trek. Indiahikes charges a bit high compared to other trekking groups and so is their food, support and pre-trek engagement to prepare you for the difficulty level. In case, you would want to offload your bag, charges for the same would be separate. You may also alternately explore with Yuvashakti or Trekthehimalayas.
You may also direct connect with Javaid Bhai, our trek guide (9622523603, 7780987087, 7051727605). He brilliantly manages all Indiahikes treks and can also curate a personalized experience in case you want one for your own group. We still miss Javaid Bhai for his innocent way of narrating stories and ever helping attitude. Do say our Hi to him if you happen to meet him again on your KGL Trek.
Our KGL Trekking Group
(Go to the Top) We had a super awesome trekking group and our blog would be incomplete without a mention to our fellow trekkers who soon became our best friends over next 7 days. Even after trek, we are in touch with each other and do not miss a chance to catch up again.
A special mention to three musketeers of our group – Prabir Da, Anukul Da and Deshraj ji. All three are almost 55+ years old and became inspiration for us the way they completed the trek full of energy. Their passion for trekking changed our mind-set that there is no age restriction for being fit and for being an offbeat explorer even if it is a rough and tough trek through Himalayas.
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek turned out to be a soulful experience for us and even after months, we are not able to come out of those serene feelings. We will humbly request you to take out some time from your busy schedule and plan this amazing trek. You will come back with a different mind and soul – It is our promise to you. Do write to us in comments section in case you need any additional information to plan your trek.