Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Overview of Kashmir Great Lakes

Kashmir is known as “paradise on earth” and attracts hikers and mountaineers from all over the world. The Kashmir Great Lakes journey, with its expansive verdant meadows, snow-capped mountain peaks, and breathtaking alpine lakes, is the most picturesque journey in the Indian Himalayas. The majority of the more than 2000 Alpine lakes in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are located in the Kashmir valley. Although for a variety of reasons,  every alpine lake of Kashmir is not permitted for tourists but Kashmir great lakes trek is most amazing, permitted and trending trek of the Valley. This incredible trip begins at an elevation of 2800 meters above sea level and affords beautiful views of the alpine landscape from the outset. The Kashmir great lakes journey will take you through repeating views of pine forests, meadows covered in wildflowers, and snow-capped mountains in the background, as well as witnessing the 7 stunning alpine lakes

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Beauty of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Himalayan landscapes reflect a luminosity that is not present on the plains.  Kashmir great lakes trek is full of psychedelic scenes of mountains peaks, meadows, and feelings of distant planet emerges from the heart while witnessing the sunrise and dawn breaking over the alpine lakes. After crossing the tree line at an elevation of 2000 meters the route of the great lakes trek provide amazing views of cliff valleys, glaciers views with sweet flowing water streams, and the meadows which are full of wildflowers. Great lakes trek is listed among the 5 best treks of India and is permitted for trekking purposes during the right season only by the Department of Tourism Jammu and Kashmir. The popular trails heads for great lakes trek are Naranag and Sonamarg. If you are gonna start trek from Naranag (closest village to this trekking trail), it will end up at Sonamarg and vice versa. We the team of Himalayan Bird offer you an amazing all-inclusive trekking deal for this trek with fixed group departures apart from that we operate private treks on the trail throughout the season.

Departure Dates for KGL 2024

  • 27 June to 4 July | Group of 8 | 4 Vacant
  • 5  July to 12 July | Group of 10 | 6 Vacant.
  • 13  July to 20 July | Group of 10 | 6 Vacant.
  • 21  July to 28 July | Group of 10 | 5 Vacant.
  • 29 July to 5 August | Group of 10 | 6 Vacant.
  • 9  August to 16 August |  Group of 10 | 4 Vacant.
  • 17  August to 24 August |  Group of 10 | 9 Vacant.
  • 26 August | 2 September | Group of 10 | 5 Vacant.
  • 4 Sep to 11 Sep | Group of 10 | 6 Vacant
  • 13 Sep to 20 Sep | Group of 10 | 5 Vacant
  • 22 Sep to 29 Sep | Group of 10 | 8 Vacant
  • 5 Oct to 12 Oct | Group of 12 | 10 Vacant


Harsh Weather Conditions, The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is not permitted before 21 of June and after second week of October by the Department of Tourism Jammu  And Kashmir.

How To Reach Srinagar, Kashmir

Kashmir does have only one commercial Airport which we can reach by a direct flight of 1 hour 30 minutes from Delhi (DEL) Airport. All the flights from other parts of India reach via Delhi to Srinagar (SXR), Kashmir.

Direct Bus service to Kashmir from different states of India isn’t available but guests are advised to reach Jammu using Red Bus or any other bus service. Tourist taxi, Public transport And UT Government Bus Service will be available easily from Jammu to Srinagar.

The train services can be used up to Jammu And Banihal only. Tourist taxi, Public transport And UT Government Bus Service will be available easily from Jammu to Srinagar. The distance of 270 Km from Jammu to Srinagar is usually been covered in 6 to 7 hours.

Detailed Itinerary of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.

Day 1: Srinagar to Sonamarg Base Camp (Shitkadi).

 The beautiful trek to Kashmir great lakes starts from Srinagar, where you arrive on your own.  We have made things easier for guests, we are ready to pick you up from the Srinagar airport or  Srinagar (Tourist Reception Centre). The pick and drop facility is included in the package for the fixed group departure dates and for private treks too. Getting to the basecamp of the trek through the banks of Dal Lake Srinagar and through the banks of River Sindh. It usually takes up to 4 hours to cover the distance of 80kms (50 Miles).
Srinagar Dal Lake. 
 Dal Lake Srinagar.
  The elevation of KGL basecamp at Sonamarg is 2700 m ASL. The landscape of the first camping site is full of wilderness and helps for acclimatization too. Enjoying the mesmerizing views of Thajwas Glacier and Sonamarg meadow reminds the fact that, Kashmir is fully photogenic. The day will end up with delicious meals and trekkers are advised to sleep before 10 PM. Taking proper sleep and getting up fresh for another day of adventure.

Day 2: Sonamarg Base Camp to Nichnai.

Sonamarg Sonamarg Valley.

This awesome mountain journey starts from the popular and trending hill station which is Sonamarg. The first day of the trek is the easiest part of the trail. Our campsite for the Kashmir Great lakes trek is located at an elevation of 2500 meters above sea level on the banks of Sind river Sonamarg. Heading towards Shekdur, With the gradual ascent of one hour, we will be touching the tree line of pine forests. While looking behind an amazing panoramic view of Sonamarg, Tajiwas Glacier and surrounding snow-capped mountains make the view magnificent. The route seems to get to an end in between the tree line.

A narrow ridge that takes 30 minutes from its left corner to get into the beautiful meadow of Shekdur. This place is surrounded by different types of tree species like Birch ( Bhoj Patra), Boxwood (Shamshad),  Deodar (Cedar), and Dogwood. This meadow is been used by gypsies and local shepherds for pasturing during summers. The gypsy houses and tents could be seen around the meadow. This mountain spot is a beautiful camping site too and by omission, the place is named Tabletop but in actual the name is given to the summit of the mountain nearby. Taking our early lunch break in this beautiful landscape makes the day memorable.

Experience during the first day of the trek.

After the break, it is 30 minutes gentle descend through the birch forests and one and a half hour gentle up ascent trek to the Nichnai campsite. During this normal up ascent trek to Nichnai Valley, trekkers will leave the tree line behind. Following the riverside, the route provides mind-blowing views of small waterfalls, snow-clad mountains, wildflowers. Kashmir’s great lake trek is full of adventure and joy also holds geographical importance. As we go higher from the left banks of the Nichnai river, the stream gets out of vision but splashing sound is always there. 

                                                                                             Nichnai Valley Campsite.

The landscape in the middle of Nichnai is mostly rough with rocky terrains and slopes so providing less land for comfortable camping. A green flat piece could be seen after leaving 2 parallel ridges behind. Sokhnai ( Valley of Rest ) is a small valley of the Nichnai Valley used for pitching tents. The great lakes trail remains covered with snow till the end of summer and the temperature remains around 8-15 degrees Celcius during the night. Nichnai is our camping site for tonight, Enjoy delicious and energy-boosting meals for dinner and sleep on time to stay fit.  Tomorrow is going to be another day of thrilling adventure, explore different types of landscapes, and 2 breathtaking alpine lakes.

Day 3: Nichnai to Vishansar Lake.

Mountain Pass 
Top of Nichnai Pass, 4100 MASL.
Acclimatization is one of the reasons to stay overnight at Nichnai.  Right after breakfast, we will be climbing towards Nichnai pass (4116 m) which is the second-highest pass of the great lakes trek. During the trek, we could spot the gateway of the Greater Himalayas which is Zoljilla Peak (3,528 m). 

The trek from the camping site starts with a normal walk of 30 minutes and a moderate steep ascend of 180 minutes to get over the pass. The terrain towards pass is not too rough but due to high altitude and steepness in the up climb, it needs more push. The water stream of Nichnai comes to an end and the mind blowing view of lofty snow peaks provides the sense of the ore. The toughest part of the trek is over and we are at the elevation of 4114.8 MAMSL. (13500 feet.) The Herd of sheep grazing on slopes, small meadows, gypsy houses, and the mountain range of Zanskar is visible from Nichnai pass. This spot is named also Maggie point and the best match to relax, eat, and experience joyful views. 

Easiest part of the trek, Nichnai Pass to Vishansar lake.

After crossing the pass the route turns right. Itis time to descend for the next 30 minutes with 2 hours of normal walk to cross the Valley of Vishansar Lake. The mountain peaks of this beautiful landscape remain under the convoy of clouds most of the time.  A number of small snow-fed waterfalls mingle and form a crystal clear water stream that connects to the outflow of 2 great lakes. Small pebbles and stones fall down occasionally, due to the footsteps of folks of sheep and goats, grazing on the steep grass-covered slopes. Standing and walking in the valley of spiky mountain peaks fills the trek with the real wilderness.  Walking parallel to the water stream will lead us to our campsite of Vishansar and Krishansar Lakes. Right after taking some rest, we will be exploring the Vishansar Lake which takes just 15 minutes from the camp. 

Next to this Lake, there is another lake named Krishansar, the lake is triangular in shape and is 2 times bigger than Vishansar Lake.  These lakes are the main sources of the Kishanganga river. In between a major river flowing from Dras, Kargil joins the stream and changes it to one of the biggest hydroelectric power-generating rivers of India. The river later enters Pakistan and called with the name of the Neelum river.  Such giant water resources are building blocks for vegetation, drinking water, hydroelectricity for a huge human population.  

Day 4: Vishansar Lake to Gadsar Campsite via Gadsar Pass.

The  Kashmir great lakes trek is considered a moderate + difficult trek but also trek itinerary does have a direct impact on your physical stamina. Camping a full day and 2 nights at two great lakes is enough time to acclimatize and explore. One more step from us which makes your trekking more moderate is that your rucksack (10-15 kg ) is being carried out by horses during the whole trail.

Today is going to be more amazing and adventurous.  We are at the elevation of 3600 meters and getting to  Gadsar pass (Elevation – 4200 meter) is the first part of today’s trek. ( In the Kashmiri language  ” Gad ”  means Fish and “ Sar “ means High altitude water body).  Starting the trek with a normal walk of 30 minutes and 90 minutes of a steep climb up to the top of Bari (“ Pass” ). On every step towards the ridge, the view of the beautiful mountain range gets bigger and adds a new thrill to the adventure. 

Gadsar Pass of Great Lakes Trek

Over the mountains, sunrise enriches the luminosity of surroundings and not only that but also softens and melts the snow. The Gadsar pass of Kashmir great lakes trek remains covered with snow till the end of July. The scale of snow present on passes depends on the snowfall of last winters and the rise in temperature during the season.  It is a good climbing practice to cross glaciers and snow-covered ridges early in the morning.  Basically, during the night the temperature decreases, and the upper layer of the glacier gets hard so it makes it safer and easy to cover distances even with crampons.

Most Beautiful view of Kashmir Great Lakes

The most epic and popular view of the great lakes trail is from Gadsar pass.  Two green bluish alpine lakes ( Vishansar and Krishansar ) in the lap of snow-capped peaks with the view of cliff valleys and snow dotted slopes in the background provide a breathtaking panoramic view. Such epic views of alpine landscapes are no were found in the whole world.

                               Gadsar Pass. 

               Trekkers Standing on Gadsar pass.                

Alpine lakes covered with a vast zone of green lush grass and wildflowers are the next part of the trek. The route onwards the Gadsar pass is an almost normal walk through rolling slopes. Descending from the pass to 3500 meters, the route will take us to the third lake of the trail which is Yumsar. This high altitude water body is covered with wildflowers from the northern side and with solid rocky mountains from the other sides. Lake Gadsar is more than 60 minutes from a normal trek from Yumsar Lake. The surrounding landscape is a living habitat for Himalayan marmots and red foxes. The lake doesn’t provide optimum breeding conditions for trout fish, so they are not found in Yumsar.

A True Story about Nearest Village of Great Lakes Trek

We are walking parallel to a historic mountain village named Jabdoor. The village was one of the remotest villages of Gurez valley, connected through Tulail to district Bandipora of Kashmir. Till late 1990 Jabdoor was the closest village to the Kashmir great lakes trail, stretching to 2 square km. The village used to get hit by snow avalanches once in a decade. But the geographical phenomenon of nature changed and this human settlement got extremely dangerous avalanches in 1995. The villagers started moving to other nearby high altitude Villages and settled there. The remains of wooden structures and cemented bases are still there.

The zone is very close to the second line of control and the mountain route to Gurez is allowed for Gujjars, Bakarwals, and Chopans of the valley only. No doubt the mountains and juicy meadows provide scenes of peaceful majesty during summers. Kashmir great lakes trek is full of the harsh season for more than seven months. During winters everything changes to magical white icing but only peak summertime is meant to witness the miracles of nature.  Facing our first checkpoint ( Third line of Control ) of Indian Amry Forces (Rashtriya Rifles) on Gadsar meadow.  After providing identity proofs and related information it’s time to take refreshments in one of the most relaxing campsites of the whole trail.  Camping next to one of the beautiful alpine lakes of the Himalayas (Gadsar Lake, 3600 m) looks very charming during a clear full moon night it’s magical.

Day 5: Gadsar to Satsar Lakes.

  Satsar Lake trek is a group of 7 lakes small alpine lakes. Few of the lakes get dry right after the glaciers around the lakes are melted away. During the month of July and August, 3 to 4 lakes could be seen easily. Starting the trek from Gadsar campsite with 90 minutes of steep ascent followed by 1 hour of a normal walk. The terrain while descending towards Satsar Lake produces the sound of flowing water but water cant be seen but only heard. In actuality, the water flows beneath the rocks and this place is named Dubta Pani. This part of the Kashmir great lakes trek differs in landscape and looks similar to western gahts. 

The trail bends and forms a traverse to a small valley known as Mengondob, leaving the river of Menandob behind will take us to Satsar Lakes. The Lakes are providing different scenic views which depend on the season. During the month of June and  July, the mountains are partially covered with snow which adds glory to the Valley but very few trekkers trek during this season. When it comes to flora, Kashmir’s great lakes trek always remains with wildflowers and a number of herbal plants from the time snow melts till the end of September. Exploring Satsar Lakes right after providing identity proof at Satsar Amry Camp ( 3rd line of control ). Our campsite is going to be an isolated valley of Satsar Valley and getting free after delicious having delicious meals. Tomorrow is going to an epic day of adventure, clear sky can give us chances to spot the 8000 m Peak of Nanga Parbat from Zajiball Top. Get free after dinner and proper rest will keep you ready for another day of adventure. 

Day 6: Satsar to Harmukh Valley (Gangabal Lakes).

Great Lakes TrekView from Zojiball Pass.

  Waking up in this part of the Himalayan region is an adventure in itself and today is gonna be an epic day of the trek. Getting to Zojiball top from the Satsar campsite will take up to 3 – 4 hours which starts with a gradual ascent and descends with a steep ascent. The 40 percent of trek terrain is tricky and needs a little bit more push. Going through boulder walk and gaining altitude through the rough rocky mountain ridges. Going through zigzag routes over ridges will take you to the summit. The view is mesmerizing from the summit of the Zojiball,  a mind-blowing view of two alpine lakes Nundkhol and Gangabal  Lake in the lap of Mount Harmukh 5146 m ASL.


Once you are on the top Zojiball, the trekkers will have the chance to spot one among 8000 m mountain peaks of the world which is Nangaparbat 8126 m ASL using Binoculars. After taking a rest at the top and enjoying 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape it time for a steep descend of 50 minutes with a gradual descent of 30 minutes. Our campsite for tonight will be on the banks of Gangabal Lake with a giant mountain in the front. The temperature remains around 7 degrees Celcius (44 degrees Fahrenheit ). The campsite provides options for a campfire in good weather conditions, it is not uncommon to rain in the Valley of Harmukh during the late evening.  We are at an elevation of 3500 meters and camping next to the lakes provides a fantastic camping experience with the real wilderness of the Himalayas.

Day 7: Harmukh Valley (Gangabal Lakes) to Naranag.

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek provides a lifetime adventure experience with picturizing views of Valleys, mountain passes, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls with exotic wildflower beds. Kashmir Great Lakes  but it does have great history too. In 1856 by members of the Great Trigonometric Survey led by Thomas Montgomerie,  Mt. Harmukh was climbed for the first time. Montgomerie and other British Climbers made the first survey of the Karakoram mountain range from the summit of this mountain. The climbers sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling them K1 (Masherbrum) and K2 about 130 miles ( 210 km) to the north of Mt. Harmukh. The surroundings mountains had been part of early climbing expeditions even when Tenzing Norgay wasn’t born. During this period of time, advanced mountaineering was just about conquering 4000 and 5000 m peaks.

Descending through the slopes of Mt.Harmukh towards Trundkhol meadow is the easiest part of the whole trek. The meadow of Trundkhol is pasturing mountain land for nearby Gujjar tribes and Shepherds. A number of gypsy houses and a Hut of the Department of Forest Protection will pass through the trek. Facing the Amry Camp while getting to the end of the meadow where we need to provide our identity information. Right after the Amry camp, we will enter the tree line at the elevation of 2950 m. For the next 40 minutes, the trekking route is moderate normal decent and provides a broad view of alpine valleys and glaciers. There are a number of small waterfalls on the route which could be used as a drinking water resource. The Gangabal route remains busy with gypsies grazing their cattle and transporting their needs on horses. The route makes turn through the forest and takes you to a small meadow which is actually Budhseri top. At this mountain spot, a Tea stall is set up during the summers where Maggie, Tea/Coffee, and Snacks are available.

FAQ's of the Trek.

1. What is the best time for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

The best time to do Kashmir great lakes trek is from July to the end of September. During this time, Kashmir Great Lakes Trek provides a lifetime adventure experience. The trekkers will able to explore picturizing views of Valleys, mountain passes, alpine lakes, glaciers, meadows, and cascading waterfalls with exotic wildflower beds. The route of Kashmir’s great lakes trek remains under the large scale of snow till mid of June.

Basically the best time to do trekking in Kashmir is from 15 May onwards but for the Great lakes trek, the perfect time is July to the end of Sep. During the month of June, the great lakes trekking trail is partially covered with snow, and the view is much different when compared to the remaining summertime. The trek can be performed during June also but needs crampons and some previous experience of high altitude trekking.   

2. Can we do Kashmir Great Lakes in June?

The mountaineers and frequent high altitude trekkers can do this trek in June also. When it comes to nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts the best time to explore this landscape is July to Sep. During the month of October, the meadows of Kashmir great lakes trek turn brownish and the temperature also decreases. During winters everything changes to magical white icing but only peak summertime is meant to witness the miracles of nature. We, the team of Himalayan Bird operate treks and adventure tours in Kashmir and Ladakh throughout the year from more than a decade. We operate private treks also got fixed departure dates for all short and multi-day treks in Kashmir and Ladakh.

 Kashmir great lakes trek is the only trek in Kashmir that is having a limited season to explore. The trail is accessible till the end of October but the Department of Tourism does provide any permission after 15 October. No doubt the mountains and juicy meadows provide scenes of peaceful majesty during summers. Kashmir great lakes trek is full of the harsh season for more than seven months.

3. How difficult is Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

When we are talking about the Kashmir great lakes trek difficulty, the trek has been rated as a Moderate trek. Considering all the major factors to rate trek like the type of terrain, altitude, steepness in route, climatic conditions, distance, and the duration of the trek. This highest altitude of Kashmir’s great lakes trek route is at Nichnai Pass 4130 meters above sea level and the toughest route and terrain of the trek is from Satsar to Gangabal Lake.
Kashmir great lakes trek is a moderate trek and 30 Percent of the trek is normal to walk over the beautiful meadows and Valleys. The trek doesn’t need any advanced mountaineering skills and gears like an ice ax, crampons, and harness. 

 The Great Lakes trek is a moderate difficult trek and on every Himalayan trek mental and physical strength is needed. If workout is already in your schedule that will surely help you to remain fit during the trek. Beginners and experienced trekkers must add walking plus running for 6 to10 km a day in your schedule. On an average trekkers will cover 6 to 7 km during this trek. The route of the trek is touching the valleys, passes and vast meadows with scenic view of mountains. The route is located in between the elevation of 3500 to 4000 m above sea level. Great lakes trek is an awesome lifetime trekking experience in the Himalayas of Kashmir. The trek can be too difficult for those who are totally new to trekking  and not physically prepared.

Getting to Naranag - End of the Trek

The last part of the trek to Naranag is just a gradual descent of 10 Km. The zigzag route with steep descent over the small ridges of Harmukh Mountain.  Mobile network coverage can be found at this point of the trek. The trail is surrounded by trees (Alder, Birch, and Deodar) on all sides. This part of Kashmir’s great lakes trek is a living habitat for a number of Himalayan birds and wild animals. The and Himalayan Monal, Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus Himalayensis), Snow partridge (Lewa), and snow pigeons are found in this region. Wangath river which originates from the Gangabal Lake and nearby Glaciers produces a melodious sound that makes the walk joyful. Due to the steep descent and roughness of the route the knees and toes get a lot of stress. Finally, a mountain village Naranag could be seen at an elevation of 2450 m ASL. The villagers earn their livelihood during summers by carrying loads of trekkers on their mules. Staying overnight in the guesthouses and relax with delicious food and traditional music ends the adventure. The trekkers will be transferred to the Airport or Srinagar on the next day. Enjoy free Dal Lake sightseeing before your departure to home.

Terms And Conditions for KGL Trek

* Cancellation Policy

  • Cancellation of any expedition/trek/tour must be notified immediately by writing an email to kgl@himalayanbird.com or info@himalayanbird.com. The cancellation of the trek will take place only after receiving a cancellation mail from your end.
  • For any cancellation requested 40 days prior to the first day of any expedition/trek/tour, the full amount will be refunded with 10% of the amount deducted as a processing fee.
  • For any cancellation requested between 40 to 30 days prior to the first day of expedition/trek/tour, only 50% of the amount will be refunded without any processing fee deduction.
  • If cancellation is requested 30 days prior to the first day of expedition/trek/tour, there will be no refund.
  • The rates/fees for the trek once decided will remain the same; however, if the group size is decreased from the client end, the trek fees may vary.  
  • In case of any untoward situation like a natural disaster, national emergency, terrorist activity, adverse weather conditions, or any other unforeseen situations, the refund may or may not be entertained which will solely be upon Himalayan Bird to decide.

* Medical Fitness for Great Lakes Trek

  • Trekkers must get a recommendation from a registered medical officer/institute; getting a medical certificate is a must before embarking on an expedition/trekking. If you suffer from severe lung/heart/muscle disorders or any disease that can turn fatal, you are advised not to take any expedition/trekking with us.
  • In case you lack the required fitness, or are suffering from diseases that have the potential of becoming fatal in the mountains/ high altitude, Himalayan Bird reserves the right to bar your participation from any expedition/trekking without any refund/compensation.

* Travel Insurance

  • Trekkers/Guests are advised to have travel insurance cover. Our prices/fees don’t cover insurance or any other travel cover. Your travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness, and death medical expenses including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation including helicopter rescue and air ambulance where applicable, and personal liability.

* Promotional Material And Identity Proof

  • Himalayanbird.com reserves the right to take photographs/videos of participants and use them for any marketing/promotional activity. Any objection should be sent in writing before the commencement of any expedition/trek with us.

  • Please carry valid Identity Proof. A valid passport and visa for all the tourists from outside India, and for Indians a valid identity proof preferably Aadhaar Card.

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Chandpora, Harwan Rd, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 191123

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