9D/8N
Duration
Moderate
Grade
6.5/10
Physicality
65 Km
Trail Length
4200 m/13775 ft
Highest Point

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek:

Update: The route has been opened for Kashmir Great Lakes trek and first team of the season completed on 28th June 2021. Upcoming KGL fixed departure treks on 31st July and 21st August 2021. Customised private tours are possible till September end.

Kashmir Great Lakes, a.ka. KGL trek, became increasingly popular and now probably the most coveted trek during monsoon in Indian Himalayas. Kashmir – “The paradise on earth” is truly unfurled during this 7 days walk covering a distance of 65 Km. Several high altitude lakes, alpine meadows dotted with tiny wildflowers, exquisite campsites make this journey a fascinating one. Consequently the KGL trail is the Best of Kashmir, what locals call Jannat E Kashmir, a piece of paradise on earth.

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Kashmir Great Lakes trek – The best one in Kashmir valley (Photo: Achintya)
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Vishansar lake and campsite

Below is your Complete Guide to KGL Trek for 2021. Click on a link to jump to a specific part of information.

Itinerary
About KGL trek
Altitude & Distance graph
Trek Difficulty
Is it doable by beginners?
Weather & Best time to visit
Things to bring
Flora & Fauna
2021 Tour packages & Cost
Reaching trekbase

COVID Update and guidelines (updated 20th June 2021):

1) As per the latest update, it is MANDATORY for all passengers/travellers arriving at Srinagar to undergo a COVID test (Rapid Antigen Test). You will need a negative report to undergo the planned tour without any isolation etc as per COVID protocols.
2) General COVID social distancing and hygiene are to be followed in the lodge/homestay/hotel, especially in the common areas. Carrying masks and sanitisers are a must.
3) With travel opening up, govt. advisories and state/UT guidelines are constantly evolving. Please check the latest updates before travelling.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Drive from Srinagar to Sitkari (Trek base 2 Km before Sonamarg) – 85 Km – 3 hours. Camp.
Day 2: Trek to Nichnai – 11 Km – 7/8 hours. Camp.
Day 3: Trek to  Vishansar Lake – 12 Km – 6/7 hours. Camp.
Day 4: Rest and active acclimatisation Day. Hike to Kishansar lake and back – 2 hours. Camp.
Day 5: Trek to Gadsar (near army camp) – 14 Km – 7/8 hours. Camp.
Day 6: Trek to Mengendhop via Satsar – 10 Km – 5/6 hours. Camp.
Day 7: Trek to Nundkol lake (near Gangabal twin lake) – 8 Km – 5/6 hours –  visit Gangabal lake and return – 2 hours. Camp.
Day 8: Trek to Naranag – 11 Km – 5/6 hours – 60 Km drive to Srinagar – 2/3 hours.
Day 9: Mandatory reserve day. Must due to weather or any other unforeseen conditions.

Important note:

  • You need to reach the latest by 12 noon on Day 1 in Srinagar. After the trek you will return to Srinagar on Day 8 or Day 9 (if reserve day is utilised), by 7 pm. Arrange your tickets, and stay in Srinagar accordingly.
  • Day 4, i.e. rest and acclimatisation day depends on different actual conditions during the trek. Sometimes we may skip it and keep a rest day at Gangabal twin lakes camp instead. In this way trekkers get a full day to relax at Gangabal twin lakes camp.
  • We will arrange a shared transportation from Srinagar to basecamp Sitkari and from trek endpoint Naranag to Srinagar back. The fare is ₹ 3000 one way for a Tata Sumo/similar and can accommodate up to 6 persons. You pay the driver directly, sharing equally with the other team members.
  • Cost of Mandatory reserve day, i.e. Day 9 is NOT included in the TREK FEE. If we use this during trekking, you need to pay an additional ₹ 2500 per person. This will be collected at Naranag.
  • If we don’t use the reserve day then you will be back to Srinagar on Day 8 evening. You may take a Shikara ride on Dal Lake, houseboat stay etc in Srinagar. Also there is an option to stay at Naranag homestay on Day 8.
  • Please note that prepaid sim cards do not work in Kashmir. Airtel and Jio has decent network at basecamp and Naranag.

About the trek:

Not only do you see six fairly large alpine lakes on this trail but get an all round hiking flavour in Kashmir Valley. Jannat doesn’t need a long introduction. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, let’s go through this incredible hiking experience visually.

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First set of twin lakes: Kishansar and Vishansar (below)
kgl-trek-has-many-flavours-of-high-altitude-trek
Crossing Nichnai Pass
sonamarg-kalahoi-glacier
From basecamp: Sindh Nallah and Thajiwas glacier above
vishansar-campsite
Vishansar campsite
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Wild flowers
kishansar-lake
Kishansar aka Krishnasar Lake
sonamarg-valley-as-seen-during-climb
Sonamarg valley as seen from the trail
second-set-of-twin-lakes-nandkol-and-gangbal-lake
Second set of twin lakes: Nandkol amd Gangbal

KGL trek: Distance & Altitude profile chart:

Below is an indicative profile of the trekking trail. Note that you will get more undulations (ups and downs) on the actual trail.

kashmir-great-lakes-trek-distance-altitude-chart
KGL trek: Distance & Altitude chart

How difficult is the Kashmir Great Lakes trek?

KGL is a moderate grade Himalayan trek. Walking considerable distances everyday makes it a bit strenuous as well. At the same time it has a rest day once you reach Gangabal twin lakes camp. This is a welcome opportunity as it helps in recuperation before your long descent to Naranag. That is why we rate it 6.5/10 on a grade of physicality scale.

The fairly long ~ 65 Km trail has few ups and downs as well (refer to the altitude profile graph above). Water bodies/lakes are at the base of the mountains and usually you will cross a pass or ridge like Gadsar or Satsar and followed by a descent to the next valley and lake(s). So prepare for some easy to moderate ascents and descents during the trek. The trek from basecamp to Nichnai has moderate grade of ascent with a relatively steep gradient in the initial couple of hours.

When you go up on a mountain trail, eventually you need to get down. Here in KGL trek almost all the altitude loss, i.e. your climb down on the hike is on the last day of the trek. To note that more than 1000 m/3300 ft descent in a span of 11 Km. Use walking sticks and knee cap particularly who may have prior knee conditions/injuries or suspect one.

Is KGL trek suitable for beginners?

At the same time there are encouraging parameters for beginners as well. While the highest altitude on this hike is below 14000 ft (4200 m/13775 ft), all camps are more or less in between 11500 to 12200 ft. In between we climb higher although sleep at a lower altitude, following the “walk high, sleep low” mantra of acclimatisation.

So you can understand that KGL is not a trek to take casually. It is ideal for hikers with few prior experiences or even for the beginners who have pretty good physical fitness and leading an active healthy life. Do check the guidelines to prepare and improve your fitness for treks so that you are comfortable on the trail.

Weather pattern and best time for Kashmir Great Lakes trek:

Kashmir treks are best done between July to September and so is KGL trek. There are no theoretical summer monsoons in Kashmir. This region receives maximum rainfall during winters due to the western disturbances.

Season starts as early as the later half of June when snow becomes minimum. Although there is no monsoon, but July and August do get rain showers. On mountains afternoon showers are common in summer and monsoon. Due to rain and warmer temperatures valleys turn greener with vibrant wildflowers.

From September autumn sets in. Rains are minimal during this month of the season. Meadows turn yellow to golden as we move on. Shepherds and Bakkarwals return to their base with their cattle after the grazing season.

Finally in our opinion mid July to late August is the best window to visit Kashmir Great Lakes trail within the possible season of late June to early October.

What type of clothing should I bring for this trek?

It is important to carry proper clothing in this trek. We recommend to use “three layers” of clothing  in the campsite during early morning or evening, while you are outside tent.

  1. A quick dry base layer (Dry-fit t-shirt).
  2. A warm jacket (Double layer or Fleece jacket ) as middle layer.
  3. A windproof cum waterproof with hood as the outer layer.
  4. Additionally you would require a rucksack and a decent trekking shoe.

Check the detailed List of things to carry or download the PDF. Also check how to select the correct gears/clothing you need for the high altitude treks.

Flora Fauna on KGL trail:

Often we overlook the actual residents i.e. the various species of plants and animals or birds on a hiking trail. Kashmir valley is typically famous for its alpine wildflowers and you can spot more than 50 species easily on this trail alone. Hyacinths, Lilies, Jasmine, Marigold, Kashmir Iris are some common ones.

Among birds, gold and rose finches, wagtails and pipits are easy to spot. You may spot a colony of Himalayan marmots on the rocky side walls of the valley.

some-birds-during-kashmir-great-lakes-trek
Don’t miss out the birds which you can spot on the trail
himalayan-marmot-fauna-on-kashmir-great-lakes-trek
Himalayan Marmot

Kashmir Great Lakes trek cost and packages for 2021:

A) Fixed Group Deparutes: TREK FEE:  ₹14,950 per person (Sitkari to Naranag)  + 5% GST. Dates are published an available in the Booking Form calendar (marked in green). You will get a flat 10% Group Discount on TREK FEE, if you book for 5 persons or more in any available group departure date. TREK FEE includes all meals, twin sharing tent accommodation, permit, guide, cook support staff, camping equipment. Your tour is travel and medically insured for a duration of 10 days. Check detailed inclusions and exclusions list in the COST INCLUSIONS tab.

Note: Offloading of backpack is ₹ 2100 per bag up to 10 Kg for the entire duration of the trek. Cost of buffer day is ₹ 2500 per person (Day 9 of itinerary) , if utilised during the trek.

B) Customised Private tours: It is also possible to customise this trek as per your preferred dates and services. This is usually cost effective when you are a larger group of 10 people or more. However this is also suitable for smaller groups who prefer more flexibility or tailor made itineraries suiting their specific needs.

Below is a Price-Matrix for customised treks assuming the same inclusions and exclusions as that of our group departures.

Kashmir Great Lakes trek Cost 2021
No of Persons TREK FEE, ₹ per person
4 19000
6 16,500
8 14500
10 13000
16 or above 12000

5% GST applicable on TREK FEE.

How to reach Kashmir Great Lakes trek base (Sitkari near Sonamarg):

Our trek base Sitkari is around 3 hours drive from Srinagar via Kangan and Gangangir. Similarly trek end point Naranag is around 60 Km away from Srinagar.

srinagar-to-basecamp-sitkari-road-map
Reaching KGL trek basecamp Sitkari from Srinagar

We will arrange a car pick up from the airport/city centre to trek base Sitkari and from trek end point Naranag to Srinagar back. A Tata Sumo type vehicle charge is ₹ 3000 one way. It can accommodate up to 6 persons and you pay directly to the driver sharing equally.

Most convenient way to reach Srinagar is via flight. Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar (Code: SXR) is around 10 Km away from the city centre.

Otherwise, the nearest railway station is in Jammu (Station Code: JAT) and it takes around 10 hours to reach Srinagar, covering ~ 280 Km.

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Why treks with HT?

Expertise:10 years on ground experience
Support staff:Qualified local & office staff
Group size:Small groups up to 15
Insurance:Travel insured trek and tour itinerary
Easy Bookings:25% Booking Deposit

 Duration: 7 days of trek; Srinagar to  Srinagar in 8 days. Additional buffer day mandatory in the itinerary.

 Prerequisite: Prior trekking experience is desirable. Good physical fitness to comfortably walk sustained duration on mountais.

 Highest Point: Gadsar Pass ~ 4200 m/13750 ft.

 Grade: Moderate

Physicality: 6.5/10

 Length: 65 Km

 Seasons: July to September

 Further Option: From Naranag drive to Sumbhol and trek to Tarsar and Marsar

 Access: Trek starting point is Sonamarg, 90 Km from Srinagar

Rail station: Jammu Tawi (STN Code: JAT)

 Airport:Srinagar (Code: SXR)

 Map:

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Upcoming scheduled dates for KGL trek: 

  • You can check the scheduled Fixed Departure dates in the calendar available inside Booking Form or inside REGISTER NOW form. Tour starting Dates are highlighted as per our itinerary (Day 1 of 8 days itinerary).
  • At present BOOK NOW functionality is disabled. You can get all the information in your email by submitting the REGISTER NOW form.
  • If you are a group of people and available dates are not matching then you may select Custom date mode (by clicking the Select your custom date) and fill in the displayed form.
  • You can also check all the available dates at a glance in our TREK CALENDAR.
  • Trekkers need to reach Srinagar on Day 1 by 12 noon. Return to Srinagar on Day 8 evening by 8 pm. Arrange your tickets for inward journey and return accordingly.
DEPARTURE LOCATION Srinagar Tourist Reception Centre (TRC)
REPORTING TIME 12:00 noon for a prompt departure to Sonamarg (Day 1)
RETURN LOCATION Srinagar
RETURN TIME Approximately 7:00 PM (Day 8)
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Getting to Sonamarg (The trek base):

We will arrange a car pickup from Srinagar to Sonamarg and from Naranag to Srinagar back. This will be shared equally by the availing team members.

The best option to reach Srinagar is by flight. There are direct flights from Delhi.

By train one has to reach Jammu and then a drive to Srinagar takes around 12 hours covering approximately 300 Km.

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Day 1

Drive to Sonamarg: 90 Km - 3 hours

Pickup from Srinagar TRC in the afternoon (between 2 to 3 PM) and reach Shutkari (~ 2300m, 7500ft) the trek base which is 2 Km before Sonamarg. The 80 odd Km drive from Srinagar takes up to 3 hours, following Sindh river on Srinagar Leh highway. The camp site is beside a tributary to Indus and located opposite to the small village called Shutkari. Tented accommodation for the night.

Day 2

Trek to Nichnai: 11 Km - 7/8 hours

Day 3

Trek to Vishansar via Nichnai Pass: 12 Km - 6/7 hours

Day 4

Trek to Gadsar via Kishansar and Gadsar Pass: 12 Km - 7/8 hours

Day 5

Trek to Myangandhop via Satsar: 10 Km - 6/7 hours

Day 6

Trek to Nandkul via Zaj Pass: 10 Km - 6/7 hours

Day 7

A walk to Gangabal lake plus a rest day

Day 8

Trek to Naranag: 11 Km - 6/7 hours; Drive to Srinagar: 70 Km - 3 hours

P.S.: Distances and altitudes are approximate and may not be exact.

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  TREK FEE: ₹ 14,950 (Sitkari near Sonamarg to Naranag) + 5% GST  

Inclusions:

All Meals during the trek (vegetarian with occasional serving of eggs) including breakfast, hot/packed lunch, and dinner with morning and evening tea.

Professional Guide, Cook & Helper.

Porters/Packed animals to carry the central logistics.

Stay as required in tents on sharing basis during the trek.

Camping equipment like Sleeping bag, Carry mattress, Dining tent, Toilet tent, Gaiters, Micro spikes/Crampon.

Permit fee, camping charges, forest levy as required in the trek.

Basic Medical & First Aid kit.

Travel insurance cum Accidental Insurance Policy covering high altitude trekking tours (For Indian nationals it is included in the TREK FEE, up to 60 years of age). It covers your trek as well as your itinerary for a duration of 10 days.

Exclusions:

Transportation from Srinagar airport to trek base Shutkari, and from trek end point Naranag to Srinagar back. ₹ 3000 one way for a Tata Sumo and can accommodate up to 6 persons.

Cost of Mandatory reserve day, i.e. Day 9. If we use this during trekking, you need to pay additional ₹ 2500 per person. This will be collected at Naranag.

We assume that you will carry your Rucksack/Backpack including all your personal belongings. If you prefer to offload your bag and carried by our horse/porter then an additional Rucksack offloading charge of ₹ 2000 is to be paid directly on spot for the entire duration of the trek. One such rucksack should weigh within 10 kg.

Any tip/gratuity to the HT supports staff.

Anything is is NOT mentioned in the “Inclusions” or personal in nature.

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Booking:

  • We assume that you have read and understood our “Terms & Conditions before Booking a trek/tour.
  • To reserve your place in a scheduled Fixed Departure trek or a Customised/Private trek pay 25% of the Trek/Tour Fee as the initial “Booking Deposit”. You can pay by Net banking/Draft/Cheque/Credit/Debit cards. This will ensure your participation in the desired trek and we will reserve your place in the scheduled date. You need to pay the remaining amount at least 15 days before Trek Starting Date.
  • If you book a Trek/Tour before 14 days or less from Trek/Tour Starting Date, you need to pay the full Trek/Tour Fee.

 Cancellations:

  • “Booking Amount” i.e. 25% of the Trek/Tour Fee is Non-Refundable at any stage.
  • If in case you are not able to make it due to unavoidable reason(s), we provide you a very flexible choice of Shifting to another trek within next one year. One year is counted from the starting date of the trek/tour you booked initially with us.
  • In case you postpone your trip you need to inform minimum of 15 days before the trek/tour starting date. (Though we suggest to inform us earlier if known)
  • In case you postpone a trek/tour before 15 days of the scheduled Trek/Tour Starting date or prior, you may shift to another group of the same trek/tour scheduled in the same season or within next one year. You may shift to another suitable route also. For changing any, you need our approval first. Your request must be in written communication through your registered email with us.
  • If you cancel/postpone a trek/tour from 14 days to 8 days before tour starting date, your Booking Amount is Non-Refundable. We will not take any request of shifting dates. We will charge 50% of the amount as Cancellation Charges and process refund of remaining 50%. You may also shift to another group within next year but 25% Booking Amount will be deemed as Cancellation Charge and the rest amount will be transferred to the shifted group.
  • If you cancel a trek/tour 7 days (i.e. a week) before Trek/Tour Starting Date or later, there will be NO REFUND.
  • In case of any unforeseen incident including but not limited to natural calamities like flood, earthquake, landslide, forest fire or any political unrest, if we are compelled to cancel the trek/trip, you will be entitled to redeem the full amount for the same/similar kind of trek/trip within next one year.

If you need more clarifications write in to [email protected]

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