Many people who wish to go for a trek in Kashmir have one question in common – is it really safe to trek in Kashmir?
With a plethora of amazing trekking options including Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar, and trekking in the Karakoram, Zanskar, and Pir Panjal Ranges, Kashmir is a trekker’s dream destination. However, being in News for attacks by terrorists, stone pelting by ingrown militants, sudden curfews, and much talked about cross border infiltration and tension, this gem of a nation often considered a troubled State remains an avoided destination on the bucket list of trekkers.
The honest answer is – although some of the information aired by the media is true, Kashmir is still a safe place for travelers if they follow the tips mentioned here:
Book accommodation near Dal Lake, Srinagar: When picking up a hotel in Kashmir, prefer booking a hotel near Dal Lake, Srinagar. It is a prime tourist area and is much safer than other places in Kashmir as there is a 24×7 army presence. Apart from a wide range of hotels in Srinagar, you can book a houseboat in Dal Lake. If you want to experience something new and mesmerizing, we suggest you live in a wooden king-size houseboat in Dal Lake with your family or group of friends. Keep Srinagar as your base point or connecting point when you are planning
Be in a group: When planning a trek to Kashmir, always consider going in a group. Go with your family members, cousins, or friends. A group size of 4-6 people is ideal. Stay with your group during the trek or going for a site-seeing in Kashmir. Avoid going alone to unfamiliar or unsafe places.
Avoid going to troubled areas: Avoid going to conflict-prone areas like Sopore, Uri, Baramulla, Anantnag, and places near LOC. Conflict may break any moment in these areas. Even if you have to visit or pass through these areas, make sure you stay in your group and walk in the areas where you can witness the presence of police or army personnel.
Keep buffer days: Always keep buffer days in your plan to be safe from sudden unexpected problems. For example, if your trek takes 7-8 days, plan a plan for at least 10 days. You can take rest after your trek, enjoy the Shikara ride, or cover attractions like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Srinagar, and others.
Don’t trust everyone around you: Remember, you are going to a troubled State, and even a single mistake can land you in trouble. Your guide, travel agent, driver, hotel; staff, trekking partners, and security personnel are the people you can rely on. Avoid any clashes with the locals.
Keep basic medical aid in your luggage: Never forget to pack basic medical items in your luggage such as medicines for a headache and stomach ache, band-aid, antiseptic cream or lotion, anti-allergy pills, and other things you might need because you might not get them in your 8-10 days long trek.
Apart from these considerations, respect the rules of the place you’re visiting and abide by the guidelines of your guide. On a positive note, tourism in Kashmir has grown significantly and people are feeling much safer to go there now due to increased police and army presence nearby treks and tourist areas. So, keep the things mentioned above in mind, and enjoy your trek to paradise!