The Greater Lakes Trek in Kashmir is one of the most beautiful and trying experiences I ever had. Now, you may wonder, why I have uttered two contradictory expressions in one breath. The reason is that while the landscape through which we trekked was unbelievably magnificent, bad weather conditions made it a grueling affair. First of all, we experienced nonstop rain and the mornings were mostly foggy thus reducing visibility to almost zero at times. The rain made the rivers swell up and even the slimmest of brooks gushed with water. The meadows turned swampy and at places, we had to walk through ankle-deep mud. We were constantly wet, cold, and nearly always tired. However, we saw the stunning vistas of Kashmir´s famous alpine meadows; exquisite glacial lakes on which chunks of ice floated; and endless fields of wildflowers. We experienced the genuine hospitality of the Himalayan shepherds (Bakarwals) and even stayed overnight at one of their hutments. We slept on the ground cuddling goats and furry baby ewes for warmth, and nine of us shared one carpet. I learned to drink scalding butter tea, walk around with a burning kangri (coal stove) underneath my clothes, and appreciate simple, human kindness once again. Most importantly, I regained my confidence as a solo woman traveler because I trusted two formerly unknown men during the entire trek and they prioritized my safety and security over theirs. These two were the adventure company owner, Shuib Kaw, and the local guide, Javed Raja. India receives a lot of negative publicity owing to the sexual harassment of solo female travelers in the country and while this is often true, I felt safe, comfortable, and secure during my entire trip. Take a look at this photo series of each day of the trek and stay tuned for one of the most beautiful travel experiences I have shared on this blog. I will share the itinerary and other details at the end of this series, so stay tuned and enjoy this visual feast of my Greater Lakes Trek photo essay.

Meet Shuib Kaw and Javed Raja, my co-trekkers, and travel guides

The first stop of the Greater Lakes trek was at Tosamaidan

The magnificent Gadtarsar (Fish Lake)

The stunning Sanduksar (Treasure Lake)

Endless fields of wildflowers near Gadtarsar: our second stop

A Bakarwal tending his sheep at Chanze meadow, our third stop of the Greater Lakes Trek

A rare sunset

Heading over to Ashtar Valley; I rode for more than 8 hours that day

The flower-filled Ashtar Valley

Overnight at a Bakarwal´s hut at Diskhal

Our kind hosts at Diskhal

Making a move towards Mazekhanen in the torrential rain


Finally, the rolling hills of Yousmarg

Despite the fatigue, rain, cold, and mud, would I do it again?

Absolutely yes, wouldn´t you?

Follow the rest of the Kashmir series