Kashmir Great Lakes

This was my first trek and the most beautiful trek I have ever done till date. I wanted to take some time off and wanted to do some trekking so as I was going through internet, I got lists of treks. But I wanted to do a trek which needs some endurance not just walking. So this trek level was moderately difficult and I registered for this trek.

The trek starts from Sonamarg which is about 70km from Srinagar airport. It was the first day I was meeting people for something like this. I was scared and excited. I didn’t know what people expected and how to behave on trips like this.

Trek details:

Trek LocationKashmir (India)
Nearest AirportSrinagar
Trek RouteSonamarg to Naranag
Trek length75 km
Trek duration8 days
Trek seasonJuly-September
Difficulty levelModerately difficult
Max. Altitude13750 feet
Fitness level neededYou should be able to complete at least 5km under 40 minutes. Preparation of about 30 days with the same pace is a must.

About The Trek

First of all, the trek needs a basic fitness level. I have seen people with very low fitness completing the trek but the question lies is, whether you want to enjoy the trek or just complete it somehow. If you have a decent fitness level then you’ll be able to enjoy the trek. The trek is amazing and very beautiful. The lakes seems amazing and scenery is mind blowing. I want to do this trek again and again.

My Journey

Day 1: Base Camp : At the campsite I met the group, there were some people who knew each other from previous treks, but there were other people who were doing it solo but had previous experiences and there were people like me who were standing in a corner and waiting for somebody to talk to. Hahahah. 

I started chatting with some people and it was fun getting to know people from different backgrounds and places and knowing their experiences. The trek guide came and gave the trek briefing and gave us sleeping bags and asked us to choose one partner to share the tent with. Since I didn’t know anybody, a guy named Rishi came to me and said we both will share the tent and I was ok. I have done 3 treks till date with him and many small treks. He became my elder brother.

Now start the fun part, in the morning many people offloaded their bags to porter, but I and Rishi decided that we’ll carry our rucksack, and now we were carrying 10kg bag on our backs and in no time we realized that it was a wrong decision, but now there is nothing we can do. By the end of the day we were dead. Hahaha. Rishi had better communication skills and somehow he convinced the porter to carry his bag for some amount but I was naïve and I was more on saving money. So I carried my rucksack on the whole trip.

Day 2 :Sonamarg to Nichnai: (6 hours 9km) This was a long day as our bodies were not that comfortable walking a steep height. The trek starts with a normal ascent but then soon it turns to a steep ascent which will make me think if I’ll be able to do this or not. There was a shop (maggi point) after which there was no network. 

We walked among the maple trees and soon observed that we were leaving the tree lines behind and there will be no trees further as we enter into the valley. We had a hot lunch as we reached the camp site. 

Day 3 :Nichnai to Vishansar lake: (6 hrs 12km) Today the climb was much steeper than I imagined. Nichnai pass was about 1.5 hours ascend and it tested our strengths. I was carrying my own backpack and Jai was supporting me as he was carrying his rucksack too. We all encouraged each other throughout and reached the top. We rested there and had our snacks. Chikkis and dry fruits helped us keep our body warm and energetic. Rest of the way was only descending and flat at times.

Day 4 :Rest/Acclimatization day : There were some locals and we played cricket with them. I thought of myself to be a good bowler but while bowling one over it felt as if I had bowled 5 overs without break. The lack of oxygen at heights exhausts your body. I decided not to compete but to play. It was a fun day. We spent the day sitting in the sun talking.

Day 5 :Vishansar lake to Gadsar: (15km 9 hrs) I cannot forget this day. This day made some people vomit because they were not able to tolerate the tough terrain, the steep slope and low oxygen in air. This day was the toughest day of the whole trek. I saw the mountain and the guide told us that we have to climb this. While looking at it I was like, hmm okay.. and when I started it never came to end. With every step it felt as if the mountain was growing and I’d never reach the top. 

The view from the top was amazing. You can see the Gadsar lake on one side and then Kishansar and Vishansar lake on the other, the blue sky, the mountain covered in snow. It was breath-taking. The rest of the way was descending through the valley and it provided some rest to the body. We reached the campsite in the evening and there was not much to talk about that day.

Day 6 :Gadsar to Satsar: (6 hours, 9km) Today, we discussed yesterday’s route and the beauty and the level of difficulty we face. We had a feeling of achievement. Also, now our bodies also started finding comfort in the pain and long walks. Today’s ascend didn’t feel that much of an ascent and most of the time it was flat. We reached the campsite 2pm and enjoyed the day

Day 7 :Satsar to Gangabal :(6 hours, 11km) Today we had the chance to see the four lakes on the way. The ascent was steep but nothing compared to Gadsar pass, and we slowly climbed the peak enjoying the beauty of the trek. The terrain was bouldery and we had fun jumping from one boulder to another. 

Day 8 :Gangabal to Naranag: (7 hours, 15km) This day is the most accident prone day. Be careful while walking downwards. There was not a single person who didn’t slip during the descent. Some got bruised palms, some got smack in the butt, ankles were hurting and we kept going. Just be careful on the route. It’s a long journey and you’ll get to know why descending is tougher than ascending. We reached the base and a cab was waiting for us to bring us back to the Srinagar hotel.

After the trek: We rested, visited Dal lake and enjoyed boating. We spent one night at Shikara and it was amazing. Finally with a heavy heart I came back, promising some people to meet again in future and I did.