The Great Lakes of Kashmir Trek
The Great Lakes of Kashmir trek is set in an almost heavenly arena of high mountain vistas, endless pasturelands, and of course, the great lakes. Arguably the best way to witness the beauty of the Kashmir Himalayan region, you will be rewarded with a palette of colours every single day that you walk on this trail.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Demanding
Group Size Medium Group
This adventure in paradise starts and ends in Leh away from the tumultuous political climate of South Kashmir. Two days in Leh help with the acclimatisation and the road trip from Leh to Sonmarg over the Zojila is an entire trip in itself.
Trek amongst the calm mountains of North Kashmir, and enjoy traditional Kashmiri hospitality, delicious wazwan, massive meadows & crystal clear alpine lakes – the parts that have made this valley a hub for travellers for centuries. Experience Kashmir beyond the sensational headlines this summer!
The trek is moderate but goes over high 3900m+ high passes, but the relaxing terrain, deep blue coloured mountains and lush flower filled meadows make the going extremely pleasant. You may get to experience a few cultural insights. Local shepherds, their herds and families may be your trail companions. There is colour everywhere. The Great Lakes of Kashmir trek will lead you to its turquoise blue-green lakes, climbs over high altitude passes and offers you one of the best trail experiences you will savour for a lifetime.
Leh Airport- Hotel (3500m)
Board the early morning flight from Delhi to Leh. It takes a little more than an hour to get to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. On a clear day the flight offers excellent views of the mighty Himalayas. Arrive at the hotel for welcome drinks followed by breakfast. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
We spend half the day visiting Shey and Thiksey monasteries around Leh. Return to hotel for lunch and spend the day exploring the Leh market.
Leh - Sonmarg (2800m)
Long day of driving today. Set out after an early breakfast, travelling west of Leh towards Kargil. 36 kms from Leh, we reach Nimu, the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus. We pass the derelict fort at Basgo, the painted caves at Saspol to reach Khalsi where the road crosses the Indus River and slowly winds its way 27 kms upto the beautiful gompa at Lamayuru.
Continue to cross the Fotu La (4108m) and Namika La (3700m) to reach the village of Mulbekh. 41 kms further is the town of Kargil which marks the transition to a predominantly Muslim area . Continue to drive West to Kashmir, over the Zojila (3500m) with sheer drop on one side. Drive through Baltal to reach the meadows of Sonmarg.
Sonmarg - Nichnai Base Camp (3505m)
After breakfast we take a short drive to the start of our trek. Walk through maple trees, past lush meadows and rivulets till we reach Shekdur for lunch. Shekdur pasture is lined by Silver Birch trees with herder huts and the backdrop of the big mountains. Post lunch, traverse a rocky section and a very pretty meadow to reach camp.
Nichnai Base Camp - Vishnusar (3732m)
Our day begins with a climb over Nichnai Pass (4000m). It’s a day of variety with a river crossing and our first small lake of this trek. Descend rapidly to be amongst mountain pasture land again. We camp by the stream fed by the Vishnusar lake.
Exploration Day - Vishnusar (3732m)
Vishnusar is the lake of Lord Vishnu, and is a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide, this lake is the main source of the Neelum River. We spend the day taking short walks around camp and exploring the beauty of the twin lakes of Vishnusar and Kishansar.
Vishnusar - Gadsar (3621m)
We start the day with a trek to Kishansar, a steep ascent which provides great overview of Kishansar and Vishnusar lakes together, as we climb towards the Gadsar Pass at 4181m – the highest point on the trek. We descend to a meadow with irises littered all over the hillside after passing a couple lakes en route. Camp is 4-5 km below Gadsar Lake near the army camp where everybody’s documents are checked.
Gadsar - Satsar (3658m)
Today, we trek above the tree line. We begin with a gentle descent for about an hour, and then a steep ascent of three hours followed by a flat meadow walk. We finally reach Satsar, which literally means seven lakes. Satsar is a series of seven small lakes connected with each other in a cascade formation. The season you trek will determine how many of the lakes have water in them. We pass the Army Camp before camping by the first lake
Satsar - Gangbal (3505m)
We climb to the Zajibal Pass (3900m) in about 3-4 hours. From here, we can see the Harigandan lake, Harmukh lake, Harmukh mountain (5000m) as well as Gangbal Lake and Nandkol Lake We will start ascending towards the small Gangbal lake and camp within the lake area.
Gangbal Lake-Naranga-Sonamarg (2800m)
A 1000m plus descent awaits your knees! Descend to Naranag & drive 55 km to Srinagar. Overnight at houseboat.
It’s an early morning flight back to Delhi. Trip ends!
We believe that along with the privilege of adventure in the Himalaya comes a serious responsibility, the responsibility to protect and contribute to its ecology, cultures and its tremendous beauty. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy is followed to the letter and we work to minimize the environmental impact of our trips. We are scrupulous in our camping, cooking and sanitation practices; we limit the number of trekkers we allow to join us on our trips and the number of trips we lead in a given area.
In wilderness, commercial agreements between service provider and client require a depth of understanding that is more than what is routinely attached to similar agreements elsewhere. In the outdoors, we have to balance pursuit of stated objective and risk. We try to overcome risk and deliver the objective promised in the agreement between client and service provider. But that does not mean that we ignore risk altogether to chase an objective. We wish you to be informed on what makes a trip safe for you and everyone else.
Please take a few minutes to read the following:
The nature of wilderness
By definition wilderness implies remoteness. It means that response to any accident or mishap takes time. Timely intervention is a life saver. Working back from this, it becomes imperative that any commercial adventure in wilderness be conservative in terms of the risk it courts. Yet adventure means there will be risk. The way out is to manage the risk involved in such a fashion that a safe experience is provided. There are a few things that the client can do.
Prepare in advance
Commercial expeditions entail strain even if others are carrying your load and doing the team’s work. Prior physical conditioning – particularly of the cardiovascular sort contributing to improved endurance – helps. Please invest time and effort for that before embarking on the trip. It will help you in the field.
Be honest, speak up
We encourage clients to be honest about how they are feeling on expedition days; voice any personal difficulties they may be experiencing. This helps the team make relevant decisions for clients’ well being, something crucial when venturing into altitude. Not all of us are meant for altitude. If your physiology rebels, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. Speak up. Make sure that your disclosures about self are not biased by an objective you are feverishly trying to achieve like getting to the summit of a peak or crossing a high pass at any cost. Don’t let summit fever and similar instances of extreme personal ambition, consume you. It puts you and your support team at risk. Stay with the team’s assessment of risk. Go with the resultant decisions. If you think you have a point to make by all means do so. We will hear you out. But risk assessment and decisions, will be by the team leaders as the onus of a safe expedition primarily rests with them.
Let the leaders work
You may be familiar with rivers, mountains and altitude. We don’t wish to question that. But there are reasons why many of us choose to go as clients. One of them is that our primary vocation is something else, while those working in the mountains as guides have chosen to make that their primary vocation or at the very least, dedicate time to it. More than us, they are in the mountains. They are alive to it. That’s why we entrust our passage to them. So, please let them work free of interference. Please don’t influence their judgement. Your expedition needs their best work and best judgement. In any expedition, leadership style will vary with the risk being tackled in a given situation. There will be times when we can travel easy in a very consultative fashion. There will be times when that is not advisable and a more directive style may be adopted by your guides. Please comply.
Be open to alternatives
We can set up the best safety systems possible, checking and double checking to make sure that nothing is left to chance. But we don’t control or totally overcome variables like weather and terrain / river conditions. They impact expedition’s progress. If team leaders review / alter plan citing concerns on any front, we request that it be respected and not viewed as money’s worth denied even if it dims prospects for achieving an expedition’s original goal. Such challenges are frequent in the outdoors. Seasoned trekkers and climbers, when they realize that a particular objective does not seem achievable on a given trip, learn to be happy with other pursuits to compensate – like staying camped and enjoying the mountain environment or attempting more doable hikes from wherever they are. We request you to stay aware of these possibilities. Be open to them. Decades ago when exploration and first ascents were happening in the Himalaya, the explorers / mountaineers / hikers devoted months to their work. Committed outdoorsmen still do. They wait out unfavourable circumstances by having a lot of time and patience. Time is what the modern world does not have even as the mountains remain the same, posing the same challenges; the same risk, the same unpredictable circumstances. An exceptionally lucky circumstance may deliver success. But luck isn’t commonplace. We should be mentally prepared for the above mentioned alternatives.
If you don’t achieve your objective it isn’t the end of the world. Be patient, another chance will emerge. There is a simple reminder, climbers often tell their colleagues leaving for a summit: “ the mountain will always be there; make sure you are there.’’
In other words – be safe.
Our expedition trips are designed for energetic and flexible people who have the spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Previous experience in the outdoors and camping helps, though is not a must. These trips are participatory in nature, and everyone is expected to pitch in, set up and break down their own tent, clean their own dishes. Look up our trip grading before you sign up.
Grading of Trips
We have graded our trips in four different categories and you should choose one that suits you the most. Grading of each trip has been done keeping in mind a lot of factors like the trip duration, the altitude, the terrain, the no. of hours of activity everyday, temperatures and conditions encountered, and the level of fitness needed. Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
- Easy : Most of our camp based trips, with easy activities, that are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding whitewater trips with easy support and myriad options.
- Moderate : Active trips involving hiking over reasonable terrain, within vehicular access, upto elevations less than 4000 meters, or trips with long walking days, multiple rafting days, wilderness camping. Includes more demanding whitewater trips with Class III rapids.
- Demanding : Hiking and trekking to elevations exceeding 4000-5000 meters, away from vehicular access, over multiple days. Encompasses demanding whitewater with Class IV rapids.
- Challenging : Our most demanding trips include climbing at high elevations in excess of 5000 meters, in remote and extreme conditions with no access to roads; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips, and demanding whitewater trips with Class IV-V rapids.
The Next Step
Ready to go? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place and we will guide you through the booking process. Please sign and scan/email us your booking form and inform us about the status of your payments at the time of confirming the trip (Booking form and Payment details below).
Why travel with Aquaterra Adventures?
We are a pioneer in active adventure travel, and run the most number of rivers in India, having opened them up over the past several years. We set the standard and have a strong reputation for excellence. We have a lot to live up to and we ensure we provide the safest, quality trips for our guests.
Should you wish to contact any of our past guests for a trip reference, write to us.
In remote regions, we often use local suppliers who provide services that may include vehicles for transportation, equipment, logistical support, hotels, guest houses etc. We do not own or operate these independent services or suppliers. We work with them as they share our commitment to service and quality.
- Hotel 2-3 star Hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara on twin sharing basis
- All transportation
- Aquaterra Adventures Trip leader being assisted by a Nepalese Trek leader
- Experienced Trekking “Chef”
- 1 porter between three trekkers
- Good clothing for porters and crew
- Food for porters & crew members
- Insurance for crew and porters
- All permits
- Twin sharing room on trek
- All meals on trek
- Domestic airfare.
- International Airfare
- International airport taxes
- All optional additional tours or activities during free time
- Transportation outside of the tour program
- Travel insurance
- Tips – 5-8% of your trip cost is a recommended amount for tips
- Items of a personal nature like phone calls, alcohol, cigarettes, bottled beverages, laundry, souvenir etc.
- Costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions and any other circumstances beyond our control.
Extra costs for extra day, hotel and transfers in case return is by road via Phuentsholing and Bagdogra (10 days)
Booking conditions: All bookings are subject to availability of space at Camp. We book space on a 100% advance. All payments by wire transfer, cash or cheque/draft in favor of “Aquaterra Adventures (I) Pvt. Ltd.”
Tips & Gratuities: Our recommendation is a minimum 5-10% of your trip cost for tips to be distributed amongst the team that makes your adventure safe and successful. This includes drivers, guides, cook, kitchen team, porters and horsemen. Of course, this remains a personal choice.
a) Kayakers to bring own boat and gear. We can provide kayaks for US$ 250 if you do not want to carry your boat out (choose from Liquid Logic HOSS, Session Plus, Dagger, Necky and Perception boats). This river demands solid boaters with Class 4+ skills and experience in big water.
b) Cost does not include transfers and hotels in Delhi, as there are several options. Airport transfers in Delhi and Delhi hotels can be arranged on request. An airport transfer costs Rs. 2500 (US $40) per transfer. Delhi hotels : The place which we have been using is close to our office, (and where we put up most of our river guests) in a quiet part of South Delhi (about 30 mins from Connaught Place, but equidistant from the airport). They charge Rs. 6000 (US$ 95) for a double room per day.
c) The US $ conversion equivalents are calculated using the exchange rates averaged over the previous year. Please check for any foreign exchange fluctuations at the time of booking.
Rates quoted are on twin share. If you prefer single accommodation, the single supplement is Rs. 15,500/-
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodation, we will try our best to find you a roommate. If that is not possible, a “forced” single supplement of Rs. 9750 will be applicable.
If it becomes necessary to cancel your tour, you must notify Aquaterra Adventures India Pvt. Ltd. immediately in writing. Once we receive your notice, cancellation will take effect. Please note that the following charges will apply on cancellation:
- if cancellation takes place more than 45 days prior to departure, your full deposit
- will be returned except a processing charge of Rs. 5000 or US$ 77 ; (60 days for Brahmaputra trip)
- if cancellation takes place between 45 and 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the
- tour price will be forfeited (between 60 and 30 days for Brahmaputra trip); and
- if cancellation takes place less than 30 days prior to departure, 100% of the tour price will be forfeited.
Some trips attract a minimum processing charge – please check.
The tour price is quoted as a package. No partial refunds or credit will be given for services not used. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance upon booking.