Gulmarg Activities & Tours

Wagner Custome Skis
Gulmarg Ski ToursWhilst the Gulmarg ski area has some fabulous terrain, the most amazing powder terrain is beyond its boundaries in the backcountry and there is only one way to experience it safely, and that is with a qualified and experienced guide. There are a growing number of backcountry tour operators appearing in Gulmarg offering such services and one operator we have personal experience with and can highly recommend is Bill's Trips.

Gulmarg Activities & Sightseeing The sensory overload experienced in Kashmir and its associated cultural differences means that one of the more interesting local activities is people watching. Going to the market can absorb an entire day.

The local native monkeys are also a never ending source of amusement. You’ll find them all through the forested sections of the village. Sadly they spend a lot of time fossicking for food amongst the numerous rubbish piles in the village.

Ice skating is available in a recently constructed ice rink. Sled rides can also be arranged, although the sleds are human powered!

Srinagar Houseboats All of the travel brochures and even fellow travellers will tell you that no trip to Gulmarg is complete without a stay on a Srinagar houseboat (aka Kashmir houseboats) at Dal Lake. Rubbish! Whilst there are a few notable exceptions to this rule (e.g. warm sunny days and true quality boats like the H.B.New Sherin), a few days on a houseboat in Dal Lake at the end of a big ski trip just leaves you scratching your head wondering what just happened. The lifestyle of those that live on Dal Lake is absolutely fascinating, but comments such as it being the “Venice of Asia” are laughable at best, downright deceptive at worst.

The dulcet tones of the pre dawn ‘Call to Prayer’ blaring from speakers at the local mosque set the scene for the day. (Yes, I did write pre-dawn!) The steady procession of hawkers selling their wares will appeal to some, but will test the resolve and patience of even the most hardened shopper. All of the wares tend to be made locally and some are exquisite – local jewellery, pashminas, ornaments and intricately carved furniture made from local timbers such as walnut, handmade clothing (leather, fur, wool, cotton & linen) plus delicately decorated linen Manchester (sheets, pillow cases, table cloths etc.). The traders that arrive at your houseboat appear to be in cahoots with the houseboat operators so turning them away becomes difficult. Locking the door works, but if you invite them in and show the slightest interest in a particular item, the trader will wait out the front of the houseboat until you go to bed in an attempt to sell the item. Expect them to return in the morning as well. Telling them to piss off or getting your houseboat host to do so, will go some way to stopping their intrusions.

Escaping the Lake can be problematic if there is unrest in the city of Srinagar. Otherwise a journey into Old Srinagar is an eye, ear and nose popping experience. Prudent travellers will have a local guide with them to assist in dealing with any ‘difficulties’ along the way.

One of the best houseboat operators is Rasool Wangnoo and his associate Yousef whom operate the H.B. New Sherin & Taif - deluxe category houseboats (deluxe meaning relative to the other houseboats on the lake). The crew serves up superb food, will stop the hawkers if you request it, and will ensure you have a relaxing stay. Rasool and Yousef can take care of tours into Srinagar, quality shopping for local specialties, transfers to and from Gulmarg and the airport, and assist with any other requests. Rates are some of the best around. Contact Rasool by email on hb_newsherin@yahoo.co.in

Gulmarg Heli SkiingIt goes without saying that heli skiing is an awesome experience. The helicopter flight alone is spectacular, but after you’ve finished taking photos of the amazing vistas, the ride down the mountain is even better. And if you’re exhausted from all the hiking and skinning at the Gulmarg ski resort, heli skiing is the perfect alternative. Kashmir Heliski offers two different packages: either the Powder Shot, a single run to get a taste of heli skiing; or the Powder Week, a fully inclusive multi-day package with heli skiing, accommodation, meals and transfers.

Kashmir Heliski also offer helicopter assisted ski touring, and you can even stay overnight in a Kashmir shepherd hut. This sort of skiing experience is definitely one of a kind.
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