The Great Lakes is one of the most popular treks in Kashmir.
The Great Lakes Trek welcomes the trekkers with a bouquet of around ten alpine lakes, lush green meadows, snow-capped mountains, wild flowers, different valleys and varied Himalayan wildlife. This trek is the crown of trekking in Kashmir.
It is a moderate trek of around 5-7 hours walking per day and reaching a maximum altitude of 4200 metres. As such it has the best of Kashmir in one single trek.
The trek is is best done in July to early September when the snow is melting across the high passes and the flowers are in bloom.
Who should join this trek? A good choice for regular hill walkers, moderate level of fitness required. Prior trekking experience is advisable as it is a camping trek.
1) Walking times: average 5 to 7 hours walking per day.
2) Altitude: up to 4,9200 metres at the passes and around 3500-3700 metres at the campsites.
3) Terrain: for some of the time following well-travelled trails although also likely to encounter rough and rocky conditions near the passes.
4) Remoteness: the trek is in a remote mountain area. There is no mobile phones and wifi connectivity on the trek.
Trek Leader: Sujoy Das assisted by a local guide and team.
Day 1 Srinagar to Sonamarg Altitude: 2,670 m
• Time taken: 3 hours drive - We fly into Srinagar by noon and then after quick lunch we drive from Srinagar airport to the base camp at Sonamarg which is called Shitkadi.
Day 2 Sonamarg (Shitkadi) to Shekdur (Tabletop) Altitude: 3500m Steep Ascent 5.8 km short day
• Time taken: 3 hours within the first 15-20 min into the trek we come to the meadows. A steady uphill climb of approx. 1½ hrs brings us at the level of the Army Camp at 2795m. We further climb to the ridge and crossover and pass through meadows and Maple & Silver Birch forests to reach our beautiful campsite for the day. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Shekhdur also known as Tabletop.
Day 3 Shekdur (Tabletop) to Nichnai Altitude: 3,650 m short day
• Time taken 3-4 hours, 6 km moderate. A steady uphill 15 min. climb from our campsite followed by ½ hr of more or less flat walk through Silver Birch forest and another 20 – 30 min. Walk gently down to the stream in Nichnai Valley. The route from here onwards initially is through a rocky terrain, later on interspersed with meadows. From the stream it takes about 2½ hrs steady climb to reach Nichnai Base camp. We camp in the flowery meadows of Nichnai.
Day 4 Nichnai to Kishansar/Vishansar Valley Altitude: 3,650 m
• Time: 6-7 hours, 13 kms Moderate. 1.5 hours of gradual ascent followed by an hour-long climb to the pass. A steep descent from the pass for about an hour easing off into a flat walk.
• We ascend into the Kishansar/Vishansar Valley—a beautiful valley with two lakes resting soothingly before two lofty mountain peaks. The lakes abound with colourful trout fish. Both of these lakes have a religious significance and they drain into Kishanganga River that meanders through Gurez valley.
Day 5 Kishansar/Vishansar Valley to Gadsar Altitude: 3400m Time taken: 7-8 hours, 14 kms Moderate. 1.5-2 hours of steep ascent followed by 1 hour of steep descent, easing off into a level walk.
• We enter into the Gadsar Valley over Gadsar pass. The pass gives a view of both Kishansar/Vishansar valley on one side and the Gadsar valley on the other. Enchant yourself with long wavy meadows dotted with multi-coloured flowers. The Gadsar Valley is famous for its lake and sinking watersand. We pitch the tents beside a shimmering canal that comes out of the Gadsar Lake. Legends say the water and fish from the Gadsar Lake have healing powers.
Day 6 Gadsar to Satsar Altitude: 3,650 m
• Time taken: 5-6 hours, 13 kms Moderate; 1.5 hours of steep ascent followed by a level walk.
• On the fifth day of the trek, the trail becomes mild and relaxing with a repetition• of mild ascents and descents through large meadows that stretch along a succession of a fascinating mountain range. The Satsar valley holds seven alpine lakes; we camp for the night beside one of the canals that snake around this valley.
Day 7 Satsar to Gangbal Altitude: 3,535 m
• Time taken: 6 hours, 9 kms Difficult. 30 minutes each of gradual ascent and descent followed by a steep ascent for about 45 and then by a steep descent. Similarly ascending and descending trail all the way through.
• The sixth day takes us over the Zajibal pass. The pass cuts the Satsar Valley and Gangbal valley. We cover a mild gradient that leads us to the Nundkol Lake lying judiciously at• the foot of Harmukh. The Harmukh, the lake and the reflection of the Harmukh in the lake make it majestic.
Day 8 Gangabal to Naranag Altitude: 2,271 m
• Time taken: 6-7 hours, 13 kms Moderate. A mix of ascents and descents for 6 km followed by a very steep descent all the way down. We lose 1300 metres in the day. On the last day of the trek, we descend into the Naranag valley. The same day we will drive to Srinagar for the night stay.
Day 9 Fly out from Srinagar to your home city
Dates are likely to be in the second half of August 2022.
INR 60,000 plus 5% GST (Rs 63,000/-) per person for Indian passports Srinagar to Srinagar some exclusions apply
The cost is per person for Srinagar to Srinagar (8 days ) as per the itinerary given earlier
Costs given above are at current rates of 2021 and may change without notice . Changes if any will be notified 3 months before the trek.
Transfer by vehicle from Srinagar to Sonamarg ( start of trek) and pickup from Naranag to Srinagar at the end of the trek.
One night stay in tents on Day 1 at the start of the trek at Shitkadi.
One night accommodation in Srinagar on twin sharing basis in a mid range hotel on the way back.
All accommodation in tents and meals on trek for seven days ( day 1 to day 7) as per itinerary; breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cost of guides/cook/helper/ponyman and ponies as needed for the trek. All permits as needed.
Costs not included
Flight Costs from home country to Srinagar and back.
All meals in Srinagar not covered.
Airport taxes if any.
Client travel and medical insurance of any kind. Emergency evacuation costs if needed.
Bottled drinks; boiled, filtered or bottled water; alcohol; snacks etc
Personal clothing and equipment; sleeping bag; duvet /down/ goretek jacket, medicines for personal use etc.
Tips to guides/cook/helper/ponyman at the end of trek
Covid negative certificates as needed and any other covid related costs.
Estimate of Costs not included
Present cost of air ticket Delhi – Srinagar – Delhi ranges between Indian Rs 7500-10,000 return. Early bookings will attract lower fares. Some airlines flying to Srinagar from Delhi are Vistara , Air India , Go Air, Indigo and Spicejet.
|Duffle Bag||All the equipment listed below other than what you need for the day should be packed into a duffle bag, locked and handed over to the porters in the morning. In case you cannot get a duffle bag in your home country these are available very cheap in Kathmandu and I can help you with this. The duffle bag should not weight more than 10 kgs!|
|1||Sleeping Bag||Warm sleeping bag is needed at least three season rated to 15F|
|2||Daypack or Hipbelt||To carry water, one jacket some nuts, chocolates, cap, camera to keep with you in the day, maybe gloves and cap as well, hiking poles etc.|
|3||Boots or Trekking Shoes||one pair|
|4||Slippers or Sandals for camp||lightweight to wear in the evenings|
|5||warm Socks||2 pairs to carry and one pair to wear|
|7||Underwear||1 to wear and 2 to carry|
|8||Warm Cap||one- Wool or fleece is usually good|
|9||Heavy jacket||the warmest you can get as nights and early mornings are cold - down is usually preferred otherwise a warm synthetic filled jacket.|
|10||Thermal Underwear ( top and bottom) - long johns||inner layer to wear at night and early morning ;|
|11||Mid Layer||Usually a jacket of fleece or wool which can be worn over a thermal layer or by itself while walking|
|12||T shirts for walking||one to wear and 2 to carry - if the sun is hot you can walk in a T shirt|
|13||Trousers /tights etc||one to wear and one to carry light weight preferred|
|14||One Rain Jacket /Wind Jacket/Soft Shell jacket||useful in case of wind ... you may need it in light rain though we would usually take shelter and wait for the rain to stop. Our trek is not in the rainy season though some light rain/snow in the late afternoon evenings cannot be ruled out.|
|15||Torch or headlamp||one small needed carry one set spare batteries|
|16||Sun bloc||one small tube should be ok spf 30 or 50|
|17||some essential medicines||vitamins, headache, fever, pain killers, diamox for altitude, your own specific medicines etc|
|18||Hiking poles||if you have bad knees then this is recommended especially on the down hills!!|
|19||Water bottle||one no 500 ml or 1 litre is ok you can use the 500 or 600 ml empty coke or pepis bottles|
|20||Sun glasses||the sun is strong in the day|
|21||Cap for the sun||ditto!|
|22||small towel||for baths and wash up in case you can use the hot shower|
|23||toothbrush, paste, soap, shampoo, vaseline, comb||and any other toilet items you may need!|
|24||wet tissues - wet ones for bathroom||called wet ones in India|
|25||some washing powder surf etc small||to wash clothes en route if needed|
|26||Nuts, raisins etc all mixed up||can be divided into small packets for daily use|
|27||Chocolates /Energy Bars/Amul cheese slices/tea bags||Carry some chocolates or energy bars to have on the way. Amul cheese slices are very useful and can be had as snacks when you are tired of sweets!|
|29||Volini gel/ Bengay etc for aches and pains||or any other equivalent|
|30||Iodine or chlorine tablets for water purification||available in Kathmandu- this is important as mineral water bottles are expensive; for overseas visitors you can get iodine tablets in REI and other large outdoor outlets|
|31||Electral or any other rehydating salts||Carry a few small packets of electrolyte - useful to have mixed with water if dehydrated|
|32||some spare plastic bags to pack wet stuff, dirty clothes etc|
|33||Book in case you want to read on the way and IPOd for music optional!|
|34||Two small locks one for your duffle bag and one for your room in case the lodge does not have a lock|
|35||Clothes line with hooks on either side in case you want to hang up your wet clothes to dry outside!!|
|36||Super Glue||To patch up boots that may give way!|
|37||Face mask||For dust, cold winds etc available in kathmandu|
|38||Extra shoe laces||one pair|
The Great Lakes trek is a full support camping trek with ponies, guide, cook, helpers. It is not a lodge or tea house trek though there are some tea tents in the season where basic refreshments like noodles, tea, soup etc may be available. Tents with mattresses will be provided every night. Quilts and blankets will not be possible. You will need a warm sleeping bag at least three season. We will have a team of one cook and two helpers who will cook all meals. Food will be basic like porridge, cornflakes, some eggs, chapattis, rice, dal, vegetables etc. All food will be carried from Leh. Our bags and luggage will be carried by ponies supervised by a pony man. Toilets will not be available on the trail. – we will provide toilet tents for the trek.
CANCELLATION POLICY The cancellation policy and refunds available are given below: 0-7 days before the start of the trek =75% 8 -15 days before the start of the trek = 50% 16-30 days before the start of the trek = 35% 31-45 days before the start of the trek = 25% 46 days and above = 15%
IN CASE OF LEAVING THE GROUP If due to illness or any other reason a client has to leave the group and go down or wait at a campsite for the group to pick him/her up on the way back, all expenses including lodging, fooding and any porter/guide related expenses if any are to be borne by the individual client over and above the trek fees paid for the trek. There are also no refunds for leaving a trek before completion.
HIRING OF PONIES ETC In the eventuality of a client needed the services of a pony to come down to lower altitudes, the cost of hiring the pony will be paid by the client.
CAMPSITES ON THE TREK The choice of campsites to be used on the trek will be decided by South Col and clients will have to stay at these designated campsites. Clients are not permitted to choose their own campsites on the route.
TREK ROUTE The trek route and day wise schedule will be fixed by South Col and will have to be followed by the client.
RISKS AND LIABILITY The trek is in a remote mountain area and has certain additional dangers and risks, some of which include: physical exertion for which the client should be prepared; weather extremes subject to sudden and unexpected changes; remoteness from normal medical services; evacuation difficulties. In the event of injury or illness South Col Expeditions (Sujoy Das) or its Staff can, at the clients cost arrange any medical treatment and emergency evacuation service as it or they deem necessary for the health and safety of the client. Waiver of liability form as per link attached to be signed by the client. https://www.southcol.com/waiver-of-liability-release/