Kashmir Great Lakes Trek:

  • Available upcoming group departures for Kashmir Great lakes trek starting on 29th Jul; 5th, 12th & 13th Aug .
  • Customised private tours are possible from late June to late September. Costs as per group size are given in details on this page here.

Kashmir Great Lakes, a.ka. KGL trek, became increasingly popular and now probably the most coveted trek during monsoon in Indian Himalayas. Kashmir – “The paradise on earth” is truly unfurled during this 7 days walk covering a distance of ~ 70 Km. Six high altitude lakes, alpine meadows dotted with tiny wildflowers, exquisite campsites make this journey a fascinating one. Consequently the KGL trail is the Best of Kashmir, what locals call Jannat E Kashmir, a piece of paradise on earth.

KGL: One of the most scenic treks within India (PC – Alain)
Kashmir Great Lakes trek – The best one in Kashmir valley (Photo: Achintya)
KGL: Abundance of wildflowers
Vishansar lake and campsite

Below is your Complete Guide to KGL Trek for 2024. Click on a link to jump to a specific part of information.

Notes on itinerary
About KGL trek
Altitude & Distance graph
Trek Difficulty
Is it doable by beginners?
Weather & Best time to visit
Rainfall during best season: An observation
Things to bring
Flora & Fauna
2023 Tour packages & Cost
Reaching trekbase

Itinerary for KGL trek:

Day 1: Drive from Srinagar (latest by 12 o’clock) to the trek base Shitkari (~ 2650 m/8690 ft, 2 Km before Sonamarg) – 85 Km – 3 to 4 hours drive. Twin sharing camp.
Day 2: Trek to Nichnai (~ 3505m/11500 ft) – 13 Km – 7/8 hours. Camp.
Day 3: Trek to Vishansar Lake (~ 365o m/11970 ft) via Nichnai Pass (~ 4070 m/13350 ft) – 12 Km – 6 to 7 hours. Camp.
Day 4: Rest and active acclimatisation Day that also acts as a buffer day. Hike to Kishansar Lake and back to Vishansar Lake for 2 hours, in case we are required to stay at Vishansar. Our trekking guides will make decisions subject to weather and team conditions. If the weather remains clear, we will move ahead and take a complete rest at Nandkol campsite. However, at Nandkol, all team members must decide to stay an additional day or get down to Naranag together. It is not possible to split the team so that some take rest and some continue to complete.
Day 5: Trek from Vishansar to Gadsar (~ 3660/12000 ft) via Gadsar Pass (~ 4200 m/13775 ft) – 16 Km – 7 to 8 hours. Camping ground is further down (~ 3300 m/10825 ft) from Gadsar lake.  A strenuous day.
Day 6: Trek to Megandob (~ 3650 m/11970 ft) via Satsar lake – 10 Km – 5/6 hours. Camp.
Day 7: Trek to Nundkol lake via Zaj Pass – 8 Km – 5/6 hours –  visit Gangabal lake and return – 2 hours. Camp.
Day 8: Trek to Naranag – 11 Km – 5/6 hours – 60 Km drive to Srinagar – 3 hours. You will reach Srinagar by 7 pm.
Day 9: Fly out from Srinagar.

Important notes on itinerary:

Carefully read the following points so that you can arrange your tickets and understand the estimated additional expenses outside the TREK FEE.

  • You need to reach the latest by 12 noon on Day 1 in Srinagar. After the trek you will return to Srinagar on Day 8 or Day 9 (if reserve day is utilised), by 7 pm. You may fly out of Srinagar anytime on Day 9 or later. Arrange your tickets, and stay in Srinagar accordingly.
  • Day 4, i.e. rest and acclimatisation day depends on different actual conditions during the trek. Sometimes we may skip it and keep a rest day at Gangabal twin lakes camp instead. In this way trekkers get a full day to relax at Gangabal twin lakes camp.
  • We will arrange a shared transportation from Srinagar airport  (or from TRC Srinagar) to basecamp Sitkari and from trek endpoint Naranag to Srinagar city back. The fare is ₹ 4500 one way for a Tata Sumo/similar and can accommodate up to 6 persons. You pay the driver directly, sharing equally with the other team members. Consider ₹ 1500 to 2000 per person which includes pick up and drop.
  • Leave luggage facility is not available on this trek as the trek start and end points are not the same but far away.
  • Note that prepaid sim cards do not work in Kashmir. Airtel and Jio have decent networks at basecamp Shitkari and Naranag. In between we will not get any network.

About the trek:

Not only do you see six fairly large alpine lakes on this trail but get an all round hiking flavour in Kashmir Valley. Jannat doesn’t need a long introduction. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, let’s go through this incredible hiking experience visually.

First set of twin lakes: Kishansar and Vishansar (below)
Crossing Nichnai Pass
From basecamp: Sindh Nallah and Thajiwas glacier above
Vishansar campsite
Wild flowers
Kishansar aka Krishnasar Lake
Sonamarg valley as seen from the trail
Second set of twin lakes: Nandkol amd Gangbal

Beautiful, isn’t it? But just don’t jump into this moderate grade trek! Undestand and get more insights reading thoroughly so that you can plan and prepare.

KGL trek: Distance & Altitude profile chart:

Below is an indicative profile of the trekking trail. Note that you will get more undulations (ups and downs) on the actual trail.

KGL trek: Distance & Altitude chart

How difficult is the Kashmir Great Lakes trek?

KGL is a moderate grade Himalayan trek. Walking considerable distances everyday with some ascent and descent may fee a a bit strenuous to some as well. That is why we rate it 6.5/10 on a grade of physicality scale.

At the same time our itinerary has 7 trekking days. Initial couple of days are long and you gain height as you reach the first lake on the trail Vishansar. Depending upon team and weather condition we may take an active acclimatisation day here as mentioned in the itinerary. We will visit the next lake Kishansar, gain some height towards Gadsar pass and return to Vishansar camp. Or else if everything looks good we can skip this day and continue till the last campsite at Gangabal twin lakes. This is also a welcome opportunity to relax a full day beside the exquisite campsite at Gangabal.

The fairly long ~ 65 Km trail has few ups and downs as well (refer to the altitude profile graph above). Water bodies/lakes are at the base of the mountains and usually you will cross a pass or ridge like Gadsar or Satsar and followed by a descent to the next valley and lake(s). So prepare for some easy to moderate ascents and descents during the trek. The trek from basecamp to Nichnai has moderate grade of ascent with a relatively steep gradient in the initial couple of hours.

When you go up on a mountain trail, eventually you need to get down. Here in KGL trek almost all the altitude loss, i.e. your climb down on the hike is on the last day of the trek. To note that more than 1000 m/3300 ft descent in a span of 11 Km. Use walking sticks and knee cap particularly who may have prior knee conditions/injuries or suspect one.

Is KGL trek suitable for beginners?

At the same time there are encouraging parameters for beginners as well. While the highest altitude on this hike is below 14000 ft (4200 m/13775 ft), all camps are more or less in between 11500 to 12200 ft. In between we climb higher although sleep at a lower altitude, following the “walk high, sleep low” mantra of acclimatisation.

So you can understand that KGL is not a trek to take casually. It is ideal for hikers with few prior experiences or even for the beginners who have pretty good physical fitness and leading an active healthy life. Do check the guidelines to prepare and improve your fitness for treks so that you are comfortable on the trail.

Weather pattern and best time for Kashmir Great Lakes trek:

Kashmir treks are best done between July to September and so is the KGL trek. There are no theoretical summer monsoons in Kashmir. This region receives maximum precipitation as snow during winters due to the western disturbances.

Season starts as early as the later half of June when snow becomes minimum. Although there is no monsoon, but July and August do get rain showers. On mountains afternoon showers are common in summer and monsoon. Due to rain and warmer temperatures valleys turn greener with vibrant wildflowers.

From September autumn sets in. Rains are minimal during this month of the season. Meadows turn yellow to golden as we move on. Shepherds and Bakkarwals return to their base with their cattle after the grazing season.

Finally in our opinion mid July to late August is the best window to visit Kashmir Great Lakes trail within the possible season of late June to late September.

Monsoon and rainfall during Jun to Sep in KGL trek: An observation

Practically there is no or almost negligible “monsoon wind” that enters the Kashmir valley. Kashmir region receives most of its annual precipitation from western disturbances and lesser precipitation from Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM). You will get more idea of monsoon patterns and precipitation in our article for best monsoon treks in India.

However note that it does rain during the possible season between Jun to Sep. A recent research shows that rainfall has increased and become somwhat errant nowadays. Climate change is playing its part here as well. The following chart shows a yearwise study of rainfall since 1980.

Precipitation & Rainfall pattern in Kashmir year over year (Source: Science Direct, Ecological Indicators)

So be prepared to get some rainfall during your trek. Usually pm showers mostly in the afternoon for an hour or two and common on mountains. Rarely you may get moderate to heavy rain throughout the day. Carry your waterproof clothing (raincoat or a poncho) and you should be OK on the trail.

What type of clothing should I bring for this trek?

It is important to carry proper clothing in this trek. We recommend to use “three layers” of clothing  in the campsite during early morning or evening, while you are outside tent.

  1. A quick dry base layer (Dry-fit t-shirt).
  2. A warm jacket (Double layer or Fleece jacket ) as middle layer.
  3. A windproof cum waterproof with hood as the outer layer.
  4. Additionally you would require a rucksack and a decent trekking shoe.

Check the detailed List of things to carry or download the PDF. Also check how to select the correct gears/clothing you need for the high altitude treks.

Flora Fauna on KGL trail:

Often we overlook the actual residents i.e. the various species of plants and animals or birds on a hiking trail. Kashmir valley is typically famous for its alpine wildflowers and you can spot more than 50 species easily on this trail alone. Hyacinths, Lilies, Jasmine, Marigold, Kashmir Iris are some common ones.

Among birds, gold and rose finches, wagtails and pipits are easy to spot. You may spot a colony of Himalayan marmots on the rocky side walls of the valley.

Don’t miss out the birds which you can spot on the trail
Himalayan Marmot

Kashmir Great Lakes trek cost and packages for 2023:

A) Fixed Group Deparutes/Tours: TREK FEE:  ₹17,950 per person (Sitkari to Naranag)  + 5% GST. Dates are published and available in the Booking Form calendar (marked in green). TREK FEE includes all meals, twin sharing tent accommodation, permit, guide, cook support staff and camping equipment. Your tour is travel and medically insured for a duration of 10 days. Check detailed inclusions and exclusions list in the COST INCLUSIONS tab.

Note: Offloading of backpack is ₹ 2500 per bag up to 10 Kg for the entire duration of the trek.

B) Customised Private tours: It is also possible to customise this trek as per your preferred dates and services. This is usually cost effective when you are a larger group of 10 people or more. However this is also suitable for smaller groups who prefer more flexibility or tailor made itineraries and additional services suiting their specific needs.

Below is a Price-Matrix for customised treks assuming the same inclusions and exclusions as that of our group departures (Economy inclusions, same as that of Fixed group departures).

Kashmir Great Lakes trek Cost 2024 (Sitkari to Naranag)
No of Persons TREK FEE, ₹ per person
6 to 7 21,500
8 to 9 19,000
10 to 11 17,500
12 to 13 16,500
14 to 15 15,500

5% GST applicable on TREK FEE.

How to reach Kashmir Great Lakes trek base (Sitkari near Sonamarg):

Our trek base Sitkari is around 3 hours drive from Srinagar via Kangan and Gangangir. Similarly trek end point Naranag is around 60 Km away from Srinagar.

Reaching KGL trek basecamp Sitkari from Srinagar

We will arrange a car pick up from the airport/city centre to trek base Sitkari and from trek end point Naranag to Srinagar back. The charges for 2023 are following:

Srinagar airport to base camp Sitkari: ₹ 5000 (Tata Sumo, Non AC)
Naranag to Srinagar: ₹ 5000 for a Tata Sumo (Non AC).
You pay directly to the driver sharing equally.

Most convenient way to reach Srinagar is via flight. Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar (Code: SXR) is around 10 Km away from the city centre.

Otherwise, the nearest railway station is in Jammu (Station Code: JAT) and it takes around 10 -12 hours to reach Srinagar, covering ~ 280 Km.

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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point4200 m/13775 ft
Trail Length70 Km
Expertise:12 years of on ground experience
Support staff:Qualified local & office staff
Group size:Small groups up to 15
Insurance:Travel insured trek and tour itinerary
Easy Bookings:25% Booking Deposit

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 1 review
July 19, 2022

We are Thai people, This is my first time trekking for me, I had a wonderful time with Himalayatrekker, All staff very nicely for our team. Thank your for my new experience in wonderful places

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