Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah Tuesday morning flagged off first batch of 41 hikers to Great Lakes trek at Youth Hostel, Sonamarg.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 will spend two days at base camp for acclimatization out of which 41 have started their journey to Great Lakes today.The trekking is organized by Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) for its members who come from across India. Every day only 40 are allowed to proceed for trekking.Mahmood Shah who was the chief guest on the occasion urged the trekkers to keep 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 month long trekking programme.
Director Tourism Kashmir said it is after a long time that such big groups have visited Kashmir for high altitude lake trekking.“YHAI is doing commendable job and we are providing them all possible help in organizing such trekking programs,” said Shah. Shah urged the trekkers to be the ambassadors of Kashmir and spread good word about Kashmir beauty and hospitality. 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 seven-day trekking programme is highly subsidized and 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 holidays from across country.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.