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Cocooned in the divine landscape of Kashmir, commonly referred to as 'heaven on Earth', the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is by far the most beautiful one in India. A trek that revolves around not one, not two, but a total of five alpine lakes. That is more than what most treks can boast. Before you've even recovered from the alpine beauty of one lake, another equally mesmerizing lake crops up. Each lake is mothered by huge, snowy mountains. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the occasional iceberg afloat the clear blue waters of the lake.
Besides the five high-altitude lakes, the trek is also cherished for its stunning meadows and lush green shores that border the lakes. The meadows en route the Kashmir Great Lakes trek are simply breathtaking. You see all kinds of meadows here, and multiple times a day, at that! Not to mention the lofty clusters of pine and maple that dot the meadows. One of the top treks in India, KGL brings you every shade of green that you can imagine. And we're not exaggerating. Imagine this - verdant stretches lined with several floral species, including wildflowers that seem to have grown in a carefree manner around the meadows; you breathe in the scent of the flowers around you, as the mountain breeze carries it through the grasslands. Sounds too good to be true? Do the trek and find out for yourself! It also helps that the Kashmir Great Lakes trek cost promises to be easy on your pocket.
The first day of the trek brings you to Shitkadi, a beautiful spot a little ahead of Sonamarg. It is the base camp of the KGL trek, and a lovely campsite to kickstart your trek. You begin your scenic, 4-hour drive from Srinagar in the afternoon.
On day two, you begin trekking from Shitkadi to Nichnai via Shekdur - a moderate trek. You get treated to sweeping views of the lush Sonamarg valley as you hike towards Shekdur. Today, you'll tread on a beautiful grassy carpet that graces a maple forest. When the forest ends, you get amazing views of the misty neighboring valleys, forests, and meadows cut by whispering streams.
The meadow of Shekdur makes for an excellent lunch point, right amidst lofty birch trees. A beautiful river valley marks the approach of Nichnai.
Camp at Nichnai for the night. Day two is just a glimpse of what awaits you. Brace yourself.
On the third day, you begin trekking to the very first pair of alpine lakes of your trek - Vishnusar & Kishansar. The trail to the lakes meanders through several meadows. You'll also notice a few variations in the scenery. The hour-long ascent to the Nichnai pass is fairly moderate, following which, a brief descent brings you to Vishnusar Lake. The trail then dips into a breathtaking meadow by a river. Notice the sprinkling of floral beauties as you trek through the meadow to reach Vishnusar. It's a sight worth an arm and a leg! The clear, turquoise waters of the lake bear amusing reflections of the bordering mountains, as their peaks wear an ephemeral halo of clouds. The stretch of greenery surrounding the lake will take your breath away.
On day four, the lovely Gadsar Lake awaits you. The trail to Gadsar weaves past Kishansar Lake and Gadsar Pass. Nearly an hour into the trek, you can see the twin lakes of Vishnusar and Kishansar in entirety. This view follows you all the way to the top of the Gadsar Pass. Continue descending from the pass till you reach another set of meadows, marked by a riot of floral reds, blues, and purples. Gadsar is arguably the most beautiful lake of the trek and is lodged right at the foot of huge mountains.
Day five sees the trek from Gadsar to Satsar. The trail now leaves the tree line and bears a striking resemblance to the western ghats. Soak in the vast beauty of the trail today, trekking through meadows guarded by snow-clad peaks. On the way to Satsar, you'll also pass Maengandob, home to some deep craters. Along with a couple of mountains and a small ridge, you can see a beautiful green bed with a snaking river cutting through it.
The penultimate day of your trek. It's a difficult trek to the twin lakes of Gangabal today. Notice a mild shift in the terrain, which is now mostly bouldery, alpine. A few hours into the trek, and you find yourself marveling at the contrasting setting of the arid mountains on one side, and an undulating carpet of greenery on the other.
Another mix of ascending and descending brings you to the series of little, nameless lakes, of which Gangabal is the biggest. You re-enter a set of stunning meadows, and another set of ascent and descent later, you're almost there. The lake you'll see today is not as clean or pristine as the others, thanks to the throngs of picnickers that come here for weekends. Sitting at the foot of the towering Harmukh peak is the beauty of Nadakol.
The last day of the trek is heavily about descending (RIP knees!) As you leave behind the campsite, the Harmukh peak bids you farewell just behind you. The trail runs past a beautiful forest, as you climb up a little. The real descent is quite steep and weaves through beautiful pines. Bid goodbye to the forests takes a long last view of Naranag before officially ending the trek.
Worried about safety in Kashmir? There's no reason you should be! In fact, there are several people who opt for the Kashmir Great Lakes trek solo.
The bottom line? Whatever your idea of a perfectly dreamy Himalayan trek, the KGL trek vows to top it. Hurry up, book your dates for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek 2020 with us before you miss your chance!