Stories from the Trail: Personal Experiences of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is often hailed as one of the most scenic and rewarding treks in India. Nestled in the paradise of the Kashmir Valley, this trek takes you through a tapestry of landscapes, including lush meadows, sparkling alpine lakes, and towering snow-capped peaks. But beyond the breathtaking vistas, what makes this trek truly special are the personal stories and experiences of those who have walked its paths. Here, we delve into some of these tales, offering a glimpse into the magic of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.

The Enchanted Beginnings

For many trekkers, the journey begins in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, with its serene Dal Lake and vibrant houseboats. The excitement is palpable as groups gather, exchanging stories of past treks and setting expectations for the days ahead. The first leg of the journey typically involves a drive to the base camp at Sonamarg, a picturesque town that marks the starting point of the trek.

One trekker, Ananya, recalls her first impressions of Sonamarg: “The drive itself was a revelation. As we ascended through the winding roads, the landscape transformed dramatically. By the time we reached Sonamarg, it felt like we were in a different world. The lush green meadows against the backdrop of rugged mountains were straight out of a postcard.”

The Ascent to Nichnai

The real adventure begins on the trail from Sonamarg to Nichnai. This stretch, often referred to as the ‘Valley of Gold’, is a gentle introduction to the trek. Trekkers pass through dense forests of pine and maple, cross bubbling streams, and walk alongside blooming wildflowers.

Vikram, an avid trekker, shares his experience: “The first day’s trek was like a dream. The gentle climb allowed us to soak in the surroundings. As we reached Nichnai, the valley opened up, and we were greeted by a stunning vista of meadows stretching into the horizon. The campsite at Nichnai was one of the most serene places I’ve ever slept in.”

Overcoming Nichnai Pass

The trek from Nichnai to Vishansar Lake is challenging, with the crossing of Nichnai Pass being a highlight. The pass, located at an altitude of about 13,500 feet, offers panoramic views that make the climb worthwhile. Trekkers often face snow patches and chilly winds, but the sense of accomplishment upon reaching the top is unmatched.

Anaya narrates a memorable moment: “Climbing Nichnai Pass was tough. The air was thin, and every step required effort. But when we finally reached the top, the view took my breath away. We could see the trail winding down towards Vishansar Lake, with snow-capped peaks framing the scene. It was a moment of pure euphoria.”

The Allure of Vishansar and Kishansar Lakes

The twin lakes of Vishansar and Kishansar are among the most enchanting sights on the trek. These alpine lakes, with their crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding peaks, are a photographer’s delight. Trekkers often spend an extra day here, exploring the lakes, indulging in photography, or simply basking in the natural beauty.

Ravi, a nature enthusiast, describes his experience: “Camping by Vishansar Lake was magical. The lake’s pristine waters mirrored the sky, creating an illusion of endless blue. We hiked to Kishansar Lake the next day, and the view from the ridge above Kishansar was unforgettable. It felt like we were standing on the edge of the world.”

Conquering Gadsar Pass

The trek from Kishansar Lake to Gadsar involves crossing the highest point of the trek, the Gadsar Pass, at an altitude of approximately 13,750 feet. This section is known for its rugged beauty and the thrill of high-altitude trekking. The descent to Gadsar Lake is equally exhilarating, with the landscape changing dramatically along the way.

Sonia, who undertook the trek with a group of friends, recounts: “The climb to Gadsar Pass was the toughest part of the trek. The steep ascent and the altitude tested our endurance. But the sense of achievement upon reaching the top was immense. The descent to Gadsar Lake was like entering a different realm. The lake, surrounded by wildflowers and set against towering cliffs, was like a scene from a fairytale.”

The Splendor of Satsar Lakes

The trek continues from Gadsar to Satsar, where a series of seven interconnected lakes await. This section is marked by a mix of meadows, rocky terrain, and serene lakes. The campsite at Satsar is another highlight, offering trekkers a chance to unwind and reflect on their journey.

Arjun, a solo trekker, shares his reflections: “Reaching Satsar was a moment of quiet contemplation for me. The lakes, each with its unique charm, were incredibly peaceful. I spent hours just sitting by the water, watching the play of light and shadow on the surface. It was a humbling reminder of nature’s beauty and power.”

The Final Stretch to Gangbal and Nundkol Lakes

The last leg of the trek leads to the twin lakes of Gangbal and Nundkol, nestled at the base of Mount Harmukh. These lakes are considered sacred by the local people and offer a fitting finale to the trek. The views of Mount Harmukh, with its snow-clad peaks reflected in the lakes, are awe-inspiring.

Mira, who completed the trek with her family, describes her emotions: “Reaching Gangbal and Nundkol felt like a pilgrimage. The sheer beauty of the lakes, combined with the majesty of Mount Harmukh, was overwhelming. We spent our last night camping by the lakes, sharing stories and reliving the journey. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable adventure.”

Reflections and Takeaways

The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is more than just a trek; it’s a journey of self-discovery and connection with nature. The personal stories of those who have undertaken this trek highlight the challenges, triumphs, and transformative experiences that define this adventure.

For many, the trek is also a lesson in simplicity and resilience. The trail tests physical endurance, but it also offers moments of profound peace and introspection. Trekkers often return with a deeper appreciation for the natural world and a renewed sense of purpose.

Planning Your Trek: Practical Information

For those inspired to embark on this journey, it’s important to plan carefully. The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek typically spans 7-9 days and covers a distance of about 70 kilometers. The best time to undertake the trek is from late June to early September, when the weather is most favorable, and the meadows are in full bloom.

One crucial aspect to consider is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek cost. The cost can vary depending on factors such as the trekking company, the duration of the trek, and the level of services provided. On average, the cost ranges from INR 12,000 to INR 20,000 per person. This usually includes accommodation, meals, guide and support staff, permits, and transportation to and from the base camp.

It’s advisable to book through a reputable trekking company that prioritizes safety and responsible trekking practices. Additionally, trekkers should ensure they are adequately prepared in terms of fitness and gear. The high-altitude terrain and variable weather conditions demand a good level of physical fitness and appropriate clothing and equipment.


The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a tapestry of enchanting landscapes, cultural richness, and personal stories that linger long after the trek is over. Whether you are drawn by the allure of the alpine lakes, the challenge of the high passes, or the promise of an unforgettable adventure, this trek has something to offer everyone.

As you plan your own journey, let the stories of past trekkers inspire you and guide your steps. Embrace the challenges, savor the beauty, and create your own stories from the trail. The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is not just a destination; it’s an experience that stays with you, etched in memory and heart.