kashmir great Lakes surrounded by green meadows and clear mountains, gushing rivers filled with trout and shepherds enjoying the idyllic scenery in the pastures; since the advent of tourism in Kashmir many explorers wanted to go deep in mountains, they undertook trekking expeditions with the help of local nomadic people called gujars; We will start our great lake trek from Naranag;
Day 01: Arrive Srinagar, Drive to Sonamarg Night in sonmarg
Pick up from srinagar airport and transfer to sonmarg, overnight in hotel in sonmarg, evening take a long walks along the sindh river and have a dinner on a nice delicacy of a fresh trout fish from the nearby stream.
Day 02: Sonamarg (7,800ft) to Nichnai (11,500ft) via Shekdur
Hike upto Nichnai (6 hours, 9kms) which means a small meadow, covered with grove of pines. shepherds camp here and then proceed to various grasslands further. Walking on the green turf of grass amidst the leaning birches with a murmuring of rivulets is a never forgetting experience. For the next few hours the trial will be tough as the ridge appears and we have to cross it before sunset, we will camp at Nichnai.
Day 03: Nichnai (11,500ft) to Vishansar lake (12,00ft)
Medium climb to Nichnai pass 13,500ft. Small descent followed by a long flat meadow walk ending near Vishansar Lake. (12 kms, 6 hours). The long trek with most changing scenery and frequent encounter with gypsies and nomadic people Start by 8 am to give you enough time en route to enjoy the meadows. Your first destination for the day is to cross the Nichnai pass or Vishansar barry. The pass is visible at a distance from the campsite. It lies just to the right of the twin snow clad peaks. After half an hour of walking along the river, cross the river to move to its left bank.The Nichnai pass feels like a wide tunnel. On the left stand a series of snow clad peaks. What you see ahead is a wide green meadow stretching for miles with mountains lining the sides. A new river flows down from the pass into the meadow ahead. Stop here and take in the view of the peaks, the river below and the flowery meadow. Notice to your left a big waterfall splashing down the mountain cliff and joining the river. From the waterfall, the rapid descent ends and you are now walking through the flat wide meadow. On the left are the classic snow clad Himalayan mountains but notice on your right, grey and barren mountains resembling the Ladakh ranges. Walk along in between the two ranges over the lush green carpet of grass. Two main streams flow through the valley. Stick close to the stream on the left. In half an hour, brace yourselves for another stream crossing for the day. The water is icy cold.
The Kishansar peak though 0.5 km away, reflects in the lake. The reflections are wonderful when the lake is still. The color of the lake depends on the time of the day and the clouds in the sky. Early in the morning, before the sun really shines, expect clear colorless water. The lake starts getting its colors when the sun shines. On a clear sunny morning, the water is absolutely blue. Clouds and the evening sun make it look greenish blue in the later half of the day. Whatever be the color the lake looks wonderful and it is worth catching a glimpse of the lake in all its hues. These lakes are full of trouts and trout fishing is popular.
Day 04: Acclimatization + Rest Day at Vishansar
Day 05: Vishansar (12,000ft) to Gadsar(12,000ft) via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass (13,750ft)The next lake in series is the Kishansar lake. The Kishansar lake lies just about ½ km away and 500ft higher than Vishansar. The Kishansar lake lies at the base of the Kishansar peak. It takes about 45minutes to reach Kishansar lake from the campsite. Move right towards the stream and cross it where it is easy. The trail climbs up on the right side of the Vishansar lake. There are multiple tracks here. For those keen on photography, the one going up is more attractive as you get the view of the meadow and the lake from a height. For those who prefer an easier trail, stick to the flatter trails. Though the two lakes are only 1.2 km away, there is no point where the two lakes are visible together.
Kishansar is also big and blue. It has a big meadow stretching on its right. The lake and the meadow is bordered on the farther side by a ridge line that raises sharply. The trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and on the top of the ridge is the Gadsar pass.
Spend time at the Kishansar meadows photographing the lake from various angles. The next part of the trek is from Kishansar lake side to the top of the ridge. You see a pencil thin line traversing through the mountain side. That is your track to follow. Always stick to the one going higher though any them will take you to the top. It is an hour and a halfs climb to the top of the ridge a moderate pace. 45 minutes into the climb, you will be treated to one of the loveliest views you can ever imagine. Both the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes are in full view together. The view of the twin lakes lasts till you reach the ridge top or the Pass. This is called as the Gadsar pass ? altitude 13,800ft ? the highest point on this trek.
On the other side of the Gadsar pass stretches a long valley with 2-3 small lakes visible. Far in the distance lie a series of snow clad peaks. The peaks lie outside our Line of Control.
It is not uncommon to find snow at the Gadsar pass and also in the initial parts of the descent to the other side. The descent is straightforward. This valley is narrower with two ranges running on your either sides. you will walk past beautiful wild flowers, blue and purple Iris flowers.
When you are in the blue Iris area, you are almost at Gadsar. one of the prettiest and most pristine of the lakes on this trek. Gadsar is at the base of snow clad cliffs. Blue flowers spring up one one side and snow slabs fall into the lake from the mountain on the other side.
Day 06: Gadsar (12,000ft) to Satsar (12,000ft)
Gentle descent for 1 hour followed by a steep ascent for 3 hours followed a flat meadow walk. (6 hours, 12 kms)
From the army camp move left towards the stream. The trail crosses the stream and heads up the mountain. The altitude at the stream is 10,600ft. The Satsar camp is at 12,000ft and almost 10 kms away. Crossing the stream is the easiest way to trek The hour and a half long climb takes you up by 1100ft. Once beyond the 11,500ft altitude, the climb graduates to a traverse. The trail bends round to the left and leaves the river valley. You are now walking on a flat trail surrounded by mountains on a meadow. this meadow is named mangendoub
Day 07: Satsar (12,000ft) to Gangabal twin lakes (11,500ft)
Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by long steep ascent and long steep descent followed by gradual up and down walk. (6 hours, 9 kms)The days trek goes up and down replicating the trek as a whole which mostly goes up and down. Trek up half an hour out of camp, to reach the biggest Satsar lake. The terrain is rough and stony, The biggest of the Satsar lakes is also the last in the sequence. After the last lake the trail starts to descend. Continue for half an hour on the main trail until you see the forest line ahead to your left. The right side is a ridgeline about 1000ft higher. It is time to gain height again. The altitude at the base of the climb is 11,800ft. the zig zag pony track to climb up to the top of the first ridge. A 45 minute trek with limited breaks will see you on top of the first ridge. Once on top, you see two more ridges to climb. The trail from the base to top is barren and rocky. Looking behind at the opposite mountains,
A total two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. The altimeter reads about 13,400ft. The best part however is the surprise view you get from the ridge top. Two lakes lie next to one another. Its companion by the side is the Nundkol. You now know your destination. It is 1400ft below you. The route descends a bit more and ascends again to the lake. Take pictures of both sides and brace yourself for a steep stony descent. Your destination is either the Gangabal or the Nundkol. The ascent is dry but on the descent you cross a stream mid way. Fill your empty bottles with the cold water and move on.
A quick climb, a shorter descent and a stream crossing over a wooden log bridge brings you to the shores of Nundkol lake. Notice that this lake is not as pristine as the other lakes you saw on the trek. Remnants of camping are there all around. Lot of people trek up from Naranag to Gangabal and go back as a weekend outing. You will wish they spared time and thought to clean up the mess they created by these beautiful lakes.
The Nundkhol lake lies at the base of the Harmukh peak. The Harmukh glacier hangs on the the sides of the rocky edges of the mountain. Both the Gangabal and Nundkhol are famous for trout fishing.
The Gangabal lake is about 20 minutes away from Nundkhol. A fiery stream flows on the right of the two lakes connecting them. The stream has to be crossed to go to Gangabal from Nandkol.
Day 08: Gangabal (11,500ft) to Naranag (7,450ft) Drive to Srinagar
Gradual descent followed by steep descent. (6 hours, 11kms)From the Gangabal campsite head down along the stream towards the tree line. The Harmukh peak looks stunning with a crown of a glacier on its summit. The green meadow has little yellow flowers growing all over and you start walking gingerly to avoid stepping over them. An hour out of the campsite, you hit the fringes of the tree line. Pine trees line the meadows and you also see traces of civilization with the presence of a log hut. You will drop to 10,800ft at the tree line but climb again to 11,000ft. For about 6 kms you never really lose altitude and you are forever around the 10,800ft mark making your way in and out of the Pine forest and finally entering it fully. Only after walking for 2/3 of the distance does the true descent begin. The descent is now really steep. The trail is a well trodden muddy one through the thick of the pines. The last 4 kms sees you dropping more than 3000ft. Naranag slowly comes in sight at around 8500ft but there is quite a bit more to go. The last stretch of the last day does become an endurance test but soon the stone paved village track comes up and in no time you enter the main road of Narnag.
How to Reach
By Air :-
Most major air carriers like Indian Airlines, go air, spice jet, vistara, air asia, and Indigo operate daily flights to Srinagar. Reaching Srinagar by flight from New Delhi is the most convenient way.
1. Accommodation. (Camping)
2. Meals while on trek /hotels.
3. Trek equipment like Sleeping bag, mattress, tent, kitchen tent, toilet tent
4. Trekking Permits
5. First aid medical kits
6. Qualified & experienced trek Leader, Guide and Support staff
7.Hotel Stay in Srinagar/sonmarg
1. Air Fare
2. Any medical emergency/ travel insurance.
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