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Planning your Tarsar Marsar, Warwan Valley, or Kashmir Great Lakes trek in 2020?
Travelers have always been a little apprehensive about traveling to Kashmir, the abode of Himalayan trekking. And we can't blame them, considering the civil unrest that prevails there. There have been multiple occasions on which some areas of the state have been shut down, temporarily. But the biggest concerns of most travelers and trekkers in 2020 arose after the devastating Pulwama attack and the airstrikes in Balakot that followed. This has greatly worried those planning Kashmir Great Lakes trekking.
Since Kashmir is home to some of the top treks in India, the situation there greatly concerns us, trekkers. We've since got a number of worried e-mails and phone calls from trekkers about whether or not they should book their treks in Kashmir this year. Well, here's a detailed answer to that.
A few months ago, it would've been too soon to give a concrete answer. But now, seeing as the situation in Kashmir is relatively stabilizing, we're running our Kashmir treks as per usual. So far, there's no reason why you should hold off your travel plans to Kashmir. In any case, we must remember that the Kashmiris are peace-loving people, some of them dreaming of an "Azad Kashmir". While there are many Kashmiris who'd be glad to remain a part of India, there are several who're just rooting for peace; they don't really care which ruling party they fall under, as long as there?s peace.
They have their differences with the administration and not with Indians or tourists. In fact, Kashmiris are the epitome of hospitality, no one does it better than them. They're extremely warm and welcoming and come whatever may, they will see to it that no trouble befalls you, as a traveler.
Now you must be wondering, "but what about the stone pelting that we've seen on the news", or "what about the violence that the state is prone too?". Yes, while there have been a few instances of civil unrest, we strongly urge you not to go by everything the media has to say. More often than not, they only portray one side of the story, and quite dramatically, at that. While the fact remains that travelers have sometimes been at the receiving end of political conflicts, it is wise to remember that these aren?t everyday events.
In fact, in all the times we've traveled to Kashmir, we've never seen this. In any case, travelers are never intentionally harmed. There are several other travelers who would corroborate this. We also know a handful of trekkers who've attempted the Tarsar Marsar and Kashmir Great Lakes trek solo. The best time for Kashmir Great Lakes trek is monsoon - July, August, and September. Despite the dicey situations that Kashmir has seen, the Kashmir Great Lakes reviews have always been positive (check out our Kashmir Great Lakes guide here).
We've been there multiple times, and all we see there is love, hospitality, and kindness. With all the political conflicts and upheavals in Kashmir, we often forget that our beautiful state is much more than that. If you speak to the locals there, they will tell you how they are tired of all the drama that they've been put through. While media may show them in a different light, they are the real victims of wars. All they want is peace.
Having said that, it doesn't hurt to be a little cautious.
Do your homework (before & after)
Wherever you intend to go to, in Kashmir, do thorough research about it before you go. Note down the spots you wish to see, the food joints you might want to try, and the means of accommodation you'll need. Read hotel reviews well before making your call. A proper background study will only make you more confident about your trip.
Now, once you reach your destination, ask your hotel manager or homestay hosts about the current situations around, and if there are places you should avoid.
In the state of J&K, only postpaid cards, or locally bought prepaid cards will function. Get your network connection once you've reached. This way, you can always be in contact with your folks. Not to mention, Google Maps will be a boon!
The most popular tourist spots in Kashmir are Srinagar, Sonamarg, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. You will find lots of locals here, along with travelers, which means there are proper facilities installed in these places. The locals actually go out of their way to help you. For your first-ever trip to Kashmir, you'll be considerably less worried if you stick to bustling streets and popular areas as mentioned here. Once you're confident, you can explore other places like Aru valley, Gurez, and more.
Shops in Kashmir mostly close by 09:00 PM, after which the streets are completely quiet and isolated. We'd advise you against venturing outside after 09:00 PM. Rather, have all of your tasks taken care of during the day.
There you are. We're also running our Tarsar Marsar & Kashmir Great Lakes trek 2020 as usual. If you're keen about trekking alpine lakes in the Himalayas, there's no better destination than Kashmir.
Bottom line - Is Kashmir safe for travel in 2020?
If the current situation prevails, YES.
If there's even a hint of political unrest stirring up, NO.
So, go ahead, trek the Indian Himalayas in Kashmir. Check out our Kashmir Great Lakes cost and dates. Book yours today, while slots last.
Our most popular Kashmir treks -
Kashmir Great Lakes difficulty - Moderate to difficult (7 days)
Tarsar Marsar difficulty - Moderate (7 days)
Warwan Valley difficulty - Difficult (9 days)