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 Himalaya, you will be rewarded with a palette of colours every single day that you walk on this trail. 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. On your way from Srinagar to Sonmarg and as well on the houseboat you will get an idea of the local culture, food and religion in Kashmir. 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.
- Day 1: Leh Airport – Hotel (3500 M)
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.
- Day 2: Leh (3500 M)
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.
- Day 3: Leh – Sonmarg (2800 M)
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.
- Day 4: Sonmarg – Nichnai Base Camp (3505 M)
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.
- Day 5: Nichnai Base Camp – Vishnusar (3732 M)
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.
- Day 6: Exploration Day – Vishnusar (3732 M)
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.
- Day 7: Vishnusar – Gadsar (3621 M)
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.
- Day 8: Gadsar – Satsar (3658 M)
Today, we trek above the treeline. 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.
- Day 9: Satsar – Gangbal (3505 M)
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.
- Day 10: Gangbal Lake-naranga – Srinagar (1585 M)
A 1000m plus descent awaits your knees! Descend to Naranag & drive 55 km to Srinagar. Overnight at houseboat.
- Day 11: Srinagar – Srinagar Airport
It’s an early morning flight back to Delhi. Trip ends!
- All travel from Leh and back to Srinagar by road
- All arrangements for staying and camping while on trip
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis in Tents / Hotel
- All meals as mentioned in itinerary & safe drinking water
- All trekking arrangements with India’s most experienced guiding team, camp staff and cooks
- Porterage upto 15kg/ person
- Peak fee/sanctuary fee/royalty/permits where applicable
- Sleeping bag
- Any transfers or meals outside of itinerary
- Bottled water
- Items of personal clothing
- Expenses of any personal nature (laundry / phone calls / alcohol / cigarettes / insurance / camera fee / etc.)
- Any expense incurred due to force of nature such as landslides, bad weather or reasons beyond our control
- Tips & gratuities (we recommend 5-10% of your trip cost- to be distributed among the team) – personal choice
- Travel & cancellation insurance
Scream and Shout! For I just completed the hardest treks in the Himalayas, the lesser known Auden’s Col Trek. It tests you, beats you down but you when you summit starting in the wee hours of the morning you know that it couldn’t have been a better decision not for just the moment but for life.
Well what a wonderful trip it was, we were 14 climbers with about 60 helpers including guide and porters. It could not have been better, right from our stay at Kuflon to Pooja at Gangotri to climb to the Auden’s to stay at the glaciers and finally a walk through the forest which can beat the amazon.
A difficult trek made so much easier by the professional, ever-ready-to-help, alert trek leaders of Aquaterra. The support staff was wonderful and made the hard days lighter by their cheerful attitude. All along it felt not like client and staff but friends out for a trek.
Everything right from the beginning till the end – the pre-trip updates, travel planning, itinerary, equipment, camping sites, medical help and preparedness, food, etc. were all well thought, planned and great.
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