SONAMARG: Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah Tuesday morning flagged off the first batch of 41 hikers to Great Lakes trek at Youth Hostel, Sonamarg.
According to an official press note issued here, the trekkers will hike to seven lakes from Shitkari in Sonamarg to Naranag which will be completed in five days. Around 120 trekkers reached Sonamarg on August 5 and spent two days at the base camp for acclimatization, out of which 41 started their journey to the Great Lakes on Tuesday, while only 40 hikers are allowed to proceed for trekking each day.
The trekking is being organized by Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) for its members coming from across India who visit Kashmir in batches, the press note read.
Mahmood Shah who was the chief guest on the occasion urged the trekkers to “keep the environment clean while hiking to the Great Lakes”.
Highlighting the potential of trekking in Kashmir, director tourism Kashmir said the valley has best treks in the Himalayas for which trekkers from different parts of the world come to enjoy the thrill of adventure.
He complemented the participants for choosing Kashmir for their trekking programmes and assured them of all the support from the department.
“Around 500 trekkers have already registered for the Great Lakes trekking of which a batch of 40 will be flagged off at Sonamarg each day during this trekking programme,” he said.
“It is after a long time that such big groups have visited Kashmir for high altitude lake trekking,” Shah said.
“YHAI is doing a commendable job and we are providing them all possible help in organizing such trekking programs,” he added.
Shah urged the trekkers to be the ambassadors of Kashmir and spread a good word about Kashmir beauty and hospitality, the press note added.
Camp leader Shruthi Keerthi from Bangloare who is the camp leader said after reaching Kashmir all their apprehensions were proved wrong.
She said they have been staying here for few days and only felt that Kashmir is a must visit place for everyone.
The 7 day trekking programme is highly subsidized which includes insurance cover, accommodation and equipments. The trekkers will be accompanied by two environment leaders.
Earlier also YHAI organized camping programmes which also received overwhelming response from holidayers from across India.
Showkat Ashai chairman Srinagar Unit, Shabir Bhat Secretary Srinagar Unit, Ehtisham Khan Coordinator and Publicity head, Sr. Trekking Officer Navin Tiwari, Program officer Gulzar, were also present on the occasion.