9 days 8 nights
As you know every mountainous excursion demands a precise planning, a planning with adequate pliability of observing and tackling situations, held all as by overcoming mind body and soul throughout the incredible Himalayan journey.
So here are some aspects regarding Kashmir Great Lakes Trek preparation:
Physically – A trek demands physical endurance, to prepare for each trek you should work out a month before joining a program. Build up the adequate strength in your legs by running and exercising every day to boost up your endurance. Stop smoking and boost your lungs doing breathing exercises at routine basis two times a day, which will help acclimatize the conditions while being resilient on the trek. Take active part in outdoor games, Yoga and any other cardiac exercises.
Mentally – Mental preparation is key, equally as important as physical training requisite for a trek. Before joining any trek take pleasure in your daily routines, eat well, take rest properly and relax. Do not stress your mind by unnecessary predictions about the trek. Be with your best friends to get motivated and relax your mind. Because pre trek assumptions are not worthy because once you join the trek and meet with rest of the pack will bring encouragement and excitement. The mental preparedness will build through the entire trek conditions. And the physical drawbacks will affect the mind. So pay close attention to various parts of the body and consciously let them loosen up as you trek. When you trek try to relax your body, especially your hips. If you’re on a winding downhill trail or on a panicking slant, think of each step as part of a simple dance and enjoy the natural rhythms that the terrain and your body can find together cautiously. Experiment with different ways of walking as a way of finding enjoyment beyond the goal of reaching a destination. The main key to stay mentally fit is to enjoy the route and not to pressurize the mind.
Technically- Gear up yourself with perfect size trekking shoes and walk with it. Use 60ltr. Backpack in a daily routine with some weight inside it, so you become used to carrying loads. Buy a trekking pole, water bottle, warm socks, thermals, fleece, feather jackets, trousers, poncho, flip flops, electronics such as power bank, camera (DSLR or digital camera).
Day 1: Arrival at Shitkadi Caampsite
After traveling by road for 80 kms we will reach our first campsite Shitkadi which is just 15 kms away from Sonamarg. You will be served with tea and snacks on arrival at the campsite in the evening. Here, we will be allotted our tents and briefed by the Trek Leader about the Dos and Don’ts of the campsite and on the trail. A few ice breaking activities are also in order so that you can get to know your teammates a bit better and have an enjoyable trek ahead. Have dinner and take ample rest before the start of the trek. Overnight stay at Shitkadi campsite.
Day 2: Shitkadi to Nichnai
We wake up early at 6 am and depart for our next campsite Nichnai after having our breakfast at the Shitkadi campsite. The trail is long and mostly uphill so we try to leave as early as possible. For the initial part of the trail, we will leave the roadhead behind and start our steep upwards climb towards table top, a vast grassland surrounded by Gujjar huts who populate the region during summer months to graze their cattle. Here, we can also find a couple of dhabas which serve maggie, omelet and tea with classic Kashmiri views of the Thajwas glacier and the view of Sonamarg town at a distance. Moving ahead we cross the Silver birch or Bhojpatri forests. These trees have historical value to Hindu culture as the ancient texts were first written on the barks of these trees. We follow the trail beside the mountain stream taking rest stops in between where we can refill our water bottles and relax our sore feet by dipping them in the cold stream water. We will leave the tree line today itself and camp in the rocky grasslands of Nichnai. Enjoy the magnificent sunset view from the Nichnai campsite. Overnight stay at Nichnai Campsite.
Day 3: Nichnai to Vishansar via Nichnai Pass
The trek soon begins after breakfast and start our ascent towards Nichnai pass. The initial part of the climb is gradual and we carefully cross the stream and move on to the terrain full of scree and rocks. From here onwards the trek gets tough and the gradient gets steeper. The climb to the top of the pass consumes a lot of energy and time, so plan yourself accordingly to save energy. As we reach the top of the pass, we are surrounded by sharp rocky mountains with glaciers and moraine on them. We take photographs on top of the pass with the surroundings then begin our downward climb towards our campsite. The view transforms again from a rocky desolate location to a lush green valley with a magnitude of colors. Walking through these lush green meadows transports you directly into a fairytale land which you might have imagined visiting. After reaching Vishansar campsite we will take some rest to relax our tired muscles after the trek. Then in the evening we will visit Vishansar Lake and enjoy walking around the lake while posing for photographs. We will retire for the night at our campsite in Vishansar.
Day 4: Rest and Acclimatization
We keep this day to relax and help our body acclimatize as we gain altitude during the course of the trek. You can utilize this day to visit the lakes Kishansar and Vishansar with your team. And play some games to keep yourself busy. If you are lucky you might find some local Shepherd boys playing cricket. You can even join them and play a match of cricket to keep yourself entertained.
Day 5: Vishansar to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass
Our journey will take us to Gadsar Lake today vua Gadsar Pass which is at a whooping altitude of 4200 meters above sea level. The trek will begin with us taking the same route which we took to reach Vishansar Lake. We will be crossing Vishansar Lake once again today so if you haven’t already taken photographs, this is your last shot. After crossing Vishansar Lake we will keep climbing towards Kishansar Lake. This lake is also mesmerizing to behold with its crystal clear water that changes its color throughout the day due to the movement of the sun. From here onwards the trail gets steep and we even have to carefully place our feet on loose rocks to carefully climb to the top of the pass. The view from above is simply majestic. On one side there are the majestic two lakes Vishansar and Kishansar and on the other side we have Gadsar lake along with two other alpine lakes. After crossing the pass the route is a steep descent for over 1 hour and then the valley opens up into beautiful meadows. We will stop at Gadsar lake for sometime to enjoy the view and then move ahead to our campsite. Overnight stay at Gadsar campsite.
Day 6: Gadsar to Satsar
Keep your photo IDs handy as we will be crossing an army camp where our IDs will be checked for security purposes. The initial part of our trek is a steep ascent after which the trail evens out into a more flat surface to walk on. The terrain of the trail for today is much different from what we have encountered on our previous days of trekking. The valley is more desolate with minimal vegetation in comparison to the lush green meadows and grasslands that we have crossed on the previous days on the trail. After crossing the army campsite the terrain changes back into the green and abundant landscape that we have been getting. As we approach Satsar lake the landscape becomes more picturesque. Satsar Lake gets its name from seven adjoined lakes in the valley. After enjoying the view of the lakes we move on ahead to our campsite where we will be spending the night.
Day 7: Satsar to Gangabal
Today we will be approaching Gangabal and the twin lakes Nandakol. As we start from our campsite with a mild ascent and then move towards a steep descent as most of our journey we will be experiencing descent till we reach the campsite. We keep moving as the trail takes us up and down and then up again, shifting with the gradient of the mountain. Our main obstacle for today would be the boulder section and loose rock on our journey. After crossing the boulders, we reach the final pass of the trek which is called Zajibal Pass. Take some time to rest on top of the pass and enjoy the view of both Gangabal and Nandkol. As we descend down from the Pass we are able to view our campsite at a distance. Overnight stay at Gangabal campsite to energize for the last day of our trek.
Day 8: Gangabal to Naranag
Our knees will be taking a nice beating today as our journey is going to be completely descent till we reach the road head at Naranag. As we start our downward trek, stay closer to the ridge line rather than the stream. The second highest peak in Kashmir valley will be visible during the trek, which is called Harmukh Peak. To rest our knees we can take a break at the multiple tea shops we will be encountering on the journey. Atlast we reach the road where we will say goodbye to our trek leader, staff and other teammates, ready for an emotional farewell.
Day 9: Buffer Day
This day is kept in reserve in case there is any kind of unforeseen event like bad weather, etc. If this day is utilized then you need to pay cash to the Trek Leader for the use of this extra day.
Trekking Shoes: Decent trekking shoes with a good grip and ankle support are required. Carry no sport shoes.
Clothing: Warm garments, such as three-layer coats, fleece, or down feather jackets, are required. Carry one or two full-sleeved t-shirts. Carry cotton and trek pants ideal for trekking for your lowers. For trekking, do not bring jeans or shorts.
Thermals: Keep top and bottom thermals on hand.
Socks: Bring two or three pairs of sports socks, as well as woollen socks to wear at night.
A headlamp/led torch is required.
Sunglasses: To protect yourself from the sun in the snow, you should use UV-protected sunglasses.
Woolen hats and gloves are also recommended due to the cold weather. Carry waterproof gloves because they will become wet in the snow.
Lunchbox & Water Bottle: Each participant should bring their own lunch box, spoon, and water bottle.
Raincoats/ponchos: Snowfall and rain are prevalent at high altitudes, and it is important to carry a poncho to avoid getting wet.
a) Registration Form
b) Medical Certificate (signed by a registered MBBS doctor)
c) NOC form (by trekker)
d) 2 Passport size photos
e) Photocopy of Valid I.D. (PAN is not allowed)