Wrapped in snowy mountains and bountiful valleys, Kashmir is indeed heaven on earth. The land offers so much to see - from the great Himalayas to the pristine lakes, its beauty never fails to mesmerise. However, what many don’t know is that there are many ways to experience its unparalleled beauty. Shikara rides are unforgettable, but adventure activities and things to do in Kashmir are unmatched. Go rafting, paragliding, mountain biking and take wildlife tours to truly immerse yourself in Kashmir’s magic. Lose yourself to discover a land that is so much more than what it seems to be. If you are an adventure-lover looking for something exciting in Kashmir, this guide to adventure activities in Kashmir is for you.
10 best adventure activities to do in Kashmir
Paragliding gives you an exclusive bird’s eye view of a land loved by many. You float through the clouds, basking in the beauty of the mountains below, and letting the adrenaline take away all your fear. This adventure sport allows people to cruise in the air with the support of a gliding aircraft. The aircraft has no hard structure and participants need not have any experience in flying to do this. Most organisations offer a co-pilot who helps the paraglider make a safe landing. This is one of the must-try activities in Kashmir.
However, there are some prerequisites to keep in mind: The paraglider must not be heavier than 95kg, cannot be under six years of age, cannot be pregnant, have a heart condition, respiratory issues, ear infections, sinus conditions or claustrophobia.
The best locations to paraglide in Kashmir are Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sansar, Pahalgam and Nathatop.
2. River rafting
River rafting is like getting on a rollercoaster with lots of water and no fixed track. You let the currents guide you over rocks and down minor drops until you can hear your heartbeat. River rafting helps you tick off your list of things to see in Kashmir. It is a great idea for adventure lovers because it opens up a unique side of the state’s beauty. For those who may not know, river rafting focuses on a group of people who sit in a shared tube-like boat (called the raft) and float along on a river. It usually goes on for a fixed duration and usually, a guide ensures that you reach your destination safely. Sonmarg and Pahalgam are the best destinations for river rafting among all things to do in Kashmir.
Of all things to see in Kashmir, its peaks top the list. Depending on your fitness level and experience, you can opt for either high-intensity or low-intensity treks. The best part about trekking in Kashmir is that you get to see morning sunlight engulf the snow-capped mountains in a golden hue. Apart from that, the feeling of having conquered a majestic mountain is incomparable. Some popular treks include Kousarnag lake, snow treks, great lakes trek, Kolahoi glacier trek and Warwan valley trek. It is best to consult a trekking organisation so you can find a trek that you can enjoy without giving up. Don’t leave without experiencing one of the most thrilling activities in Kashmir.
4. Skiing or snowboarding
What always felt like an international activity is now closer home. You don’t need to spend lakhs on skiing in the Alps when the Himalayas offer much more magnificent views. Ski lovers and snowboarders were seen frequenting Gulmarg when COVID-related international travel restrictions had not been lifted. And, guess what? The ski resort is the third-highest in the entire world. At an elevation of 3950 metres, it offers the perfect terrain for you to have a fine skiing or snowboarding experience. Hit the Apharwat peak for your next winter vacation. It is believed to be the longest ski slope in Asia. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Buy passes at the ski station and consult an expert before you take the leap. You can rent skiing equipment in Gulmarg for about Rs 800 /day, and buy tickets starting at Rs 750/ day. If this is your first time, you can also hire a local ski instructor for about Rs 2,500/day. Make sure they are certified. Can’t beat this on the list of things to do in Kashmir.
5. Mountain biking
No thrill matches the rush of mountain biking, especially when you are moving along the edge of a cliff! Among all of Kashmir’s famous things, its terrain is perfect for a daring cycling adventure in Kashmir. What’s more, as you pedal through the mountains and forest, you get to experience an unseen side of the land. The flora, fauna and panoramic views will never match the ones you see on everyday tours. You pass streams, lakes, hamlets and meadows that feel straight out of a movie. The most recommended mountain biking route is from Gulmarg to Pahalgam. You can get your own bikes, rent them on location or book a complete mountain bicycling activity with local tour operators.
6. Hot air balloon ride
If you want to experience the magic of being up in the air but without the thrill of paragliding, hot air ballooning is for you. The best seat in the house isn’t at Dal Lake, but up in the skies of Srinagar. Bask in mesmerising views of the mountain ranges, the steep valleys, the lakes and the glaciers in your own private hot air balloon. The service is currently available at Zabarwan Park in Srinagar. The best time to experience this is during summers or early winters so that your views aren’t shrouded in snow. The rides usually start early in the morning, and there is no age limit for who can participate. However, people with health conditions and pregnant women are not advised to participate.
An unseen side of the many things to do in Kashmir are its expansive golf courses. The best time for golf lovers to hit these parks is in the summer. The skies are clear and the grass is green, perfect for showcasing your skills. It can be a great addition to your list of luxurious adventure activities in Kashmir. The highest green golf course and clubhouse right in the heart of Gulmarg, are one of Kashmir's famous things! You are surrounded by majestic mountains and the local flora of gorgeous pine trees. Apart from the Gulmarg Golf club, things to see in Kashmir for golf lovers are the Kashmir Golf Club and the Royal Spring Golf Club. Regardless of whether you are an expert or a beginner, there is a place for you at the golf clubs in Gulmarg and Srinagar.
8. Camel safari
It’s not just Rajasthan’s deserts where you can hop onto a camel’s back. Add old deserts and their panoramic landscapes to your list of things to see in Kashmir. You may not have seen camel safaris in most lists of things to do in Kashmir. However, the story goes that they were the primary means of conveyance up until the 20th century, even after India’s independence. The most popular local breed of camel here is the dual-humped camel or the Bactrian camel. Most of these camel excursions can be as short as a few hours or as long as 5 days, although the latter offers the most excitement. Generally, the camel safaris in Kashmir happen in the Ladakh region, and are open to people older than five years of age. These tours can be customised to meet your needs, and can be booked in Srinagar.
Kashmir’s pristine beauty offers so much for travellers to witness here. One of the most underrated things to do in Kashmir is camping and stargazing. The serene valleys of Sonmarg and Pahalgam undisputedly make camping one of Kashmir’s famous things. Initially, it was mostly trekkers who would set camp in the foothills of Kashmir, However, over time, it has come to be seen as an adventure in Kashmir where travellers, including families, partake in this experience. However, to really enjoy camping in Kashmir it is best to do it during summer when it isn’t too cold. You either book a camping activity with tour providers or rent a tent and supplies of your own to do it yourself.
10. Wildlife tours
The mountains are home to a plethora of unique flora and fauna. While you can spot most of Kashmir’s exotic flora on your sightseeing tours, it may be more difficult to spot the wildlife. This is why taking a wildlife tour could be a really interesting experience. Several wildlife parks such as the Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, Dachigam National Park and Overa National park offer exclusive wildlife tours to enthusiasts. You can spot pandas, stags, bears, musk deers, golden eagles and even tragopans. You can either book your stay with a tour operator or take a day trip to your destination.
Confused about planning your Kashmir itinerary? Consider planning a thrill-inspired trip with lots of trekking, mountain biking and camel safaris. The state is a budget-friendly and versatile place for those looking for adventure in India. It goes without saying that the list of adventure activities in Kashmir is endless.