Valley Of Flowers Trek

Rishikesh | India
  From  INR 8,500  | From 5 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Valley of Flowers Trek

The Himalayas present a multitude of options to the enthusiastic and the curious. Some trekkers brave the challenging terrains to watch the sunrise from the snow-capped mountains and accomplish a feeling of fulfillment after summiting those mighty peaks. Whereas others are contented to breathe in the fresh air, listen to the humming of the birds, and witness incredible spectacles like the sprawling, lush valleys, gushing waterfalls, alpine lakes, and dense forests under star-lit skies.

Tourists and trekkers alike hold the Indian state of Uttarakhand in high esteem for the diverse beauty of the Himalayas that it presents. One of those major Himalayan attractions here is the Valley of Flowers Trek. It matters the least whether you are traveling solo, with your partner, or with a group of fellow trekkers; the Valley of Flowers trail is mesmerizing enough to captivate your soul.

Experience the bounty of mother nature when you walk through the colorful arrays of rare alpine flowers. This colorful extravaganza continues for a whopping length of 17 km! However, it takes less than a week to cover the Valley of Flowers National Park. If you are an amateur trekker looking for easy trails to cover and kickstart your trekking experience, this could be the perfect trip for you.

An Overview of the Valley of Flowers Trek

One of India's oldest known trekking routes, the Valley of Flowers, is in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, which covers an extensive area of 87 sq. km. In 1982, the Government of India declared the Valley of Flowers to be a National Park. Some decades later, in 2002, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Besides the Nanda Devi National Park, the Valley of the Flowers forms the second core zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It is believed to have been discovered in 1931 by three British climbers who lost their way while returning from Mt. Kamet. From then on, the popularity of the valley snowballed because of the breathtaking visuals it offers.

The Valley of Flowers National Park stretches for 8 km in length and has a width of 2 km. Vast meadows of endemic alpine flowers carpet the landscape here. Several rare and endangered birds and animals have also found a home in this lush greenery.

Curious about what attractions the Valley of Flowers trekking entails? Read on to know all about them.

  • Enjoy the breathtaking views of the diversity of endemic alpine flora in this part of Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows ecoregion.
  • Encounter the local people at the last village on the trek to the valley, Ghangaria, and experience their rustic lifestyle. They are warm and welcoming to trekkers and provide food and lodging at very affordable rates.
  • The greenery is soothing to your eyes. In 1993, Prof. Chandra Prakash Kala recorded around 520 alpine plants that grow only in the valley and could be classified into 31 species of rare and endangered categories. It also includes several medicinal plants exclusive to the national park's vegetation. Among the most astonishing things about the Valley of Flowers is the floral diversity that shuffles almost every week.
  • Witness the cascading waterfalls and the gushing Pushpawati River running through the Valley of Flowers. You can experience the bounty of various natural habitats here, alternating between forests, meadows, valley bottoms, plateaus, bogs, caves, and stone deserts.
  • There aren't many wild animals in the national park. Rare and endangered animals, including the Himalayan langur, Asiatic black bear, musk deer, snow leopard, red fox, and blue sheep, are seen in this area. Birds like the Himalayan monal pheasant, snow pigeon, Himalayan vulture, and scaly-bellied and yellow-nape woodpeckers can be spotted here. This makes the valley popular among wildlife photographers and birdwatchers.
  • Experience the enriching religious significance of Hemkund Sahib, which is the highest Gurudwara for Sikh pilgrims at an altitude of 4329 meters. This gurudwara, located in the Chamoli district, can be reached from Govindghat via the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. It attracts around 150,000 pilgrims every trekking season. It is situated next to the glacial lake Hemkund- the Lake of Snow, surrounded by seven mountain peaks and considered a sacred spot. Ghangaria (base camp of the Valley of Flowers Trek) is just about 9.7 kilometers from Govindghat. So, you can embark on the adventurous Valley of Flower trek after fulfilling your spiritual journey at Hemkund Sahib.

However, camping in tents, an indispensable part of a splendid trekking experience, is not allowed in the Valley of Flowers. It is a protected ecoregion and a national park. Lodging is available at Ghangaria and Govindghat.

How difficult is Valley of Flowers Trek?

Expert trekkers have classified the Valley of the Flowers trek as an easy to moderate level trek. The highest point here is at an altitude of 4390 meters. If you are geared up well and live an active life year-round, this is not much of a challenge.

Some of the reasons that give this trek a moderate rating are:

  • Since there are no provisions for camping in the national park, you will have to start trekking from your lodging at Ghangaria or Govindghat and return there by 5 p.m. The entire expanse is to be covered in 3 days according to the permit issued by the authorities here. This makes the trekking days longer.
  • It has smooth terrain up to Bhyudar Village. But the route from here to Ghangaria village is rugged and slippery, demanding proper physical fitness.
  • There are some steep climbs like the one on the route to Hemkund Sahib from Ghangaria. Altitude sickness is common on these tracks when you are climbing around 1220 meters every day.
  • The Valley of Flowers trail remains open to trekkers from June to October. During the monsoon season, the trek can be quite challenging and demanding with the constant gain in altitude. You may encounter melting snow from the mountains as you keep moving forward on the trail.

Best time to visit Valley of Flowers Trek

The Valley of Flowers is a monsoon trek. Both expert and uninitiated trekkers prefer the rainy season, especially the months of July and August, to visit the valley and witness the wonders of nature. During this time, the valley is in full bloom. You will find endless stretches of colorful flora. The national park remains open from the first week of June to the first week of October.

Therefore, the rainy season is considered to be the best time for Valley of Flowers trek. Note that this is also the time of the year when the area is prone to accidental landslides and torrential downpours. It would be wise to check weather forecasts before embarking on this trip.

Gear guide and checklist for Valley of Flowers Trek

While packing for any hike, remember to pack for all eventualities. But, also remember to minimize your luggage as much as possible. The Valley of Flowers trek Uttarakhand is a short trek, so carrying only your essentials will be enough. Here's an extensive guide on how to pack for the trek.

Clothes, footwear, and other essentials for the trek

Pack light and comfortable clothes that are quick to dry. Polyester t-shirts are the best in this category for trekking through the day. The temperature starts to drop after sunset, so make sure to have warm jackets and pullovers to bundle up for the night. Thermal innerwear may help maintain optimal body temperature but do not let yourself overheat since the temperature during this time fluctuates between 20°C and 8°C. Carrying extra pairs of socks and underwear is always a safe option.

If you're traveling in the rainy season, you will need a raincoat with a hood, along with an umbrella. Alternatively, you can carry a waterproof poncho. Having waterproof bags for your wallet and electronics and covers for your backpack is also advisable.

When it comes to footwear, you should make a very thoughtful and informed purchase decision. When traveling in mountainous regions like the Valley of Flowers National Park, you must wear high-quality and sturdy hiking boots. Since you will be ideally visiting the Valley of Flowers during monsoons, you need to take special care about the grip of your hiking boots to avoid any mishaps.

Although you should pack exhaustively when visiting the Himalayas, it is advised to keep your backpack light. A 40 to 50-liter backpack should suffice for your entire journey. Additionally, you can keep a 20-liter backpack handy if you are offloading. A sturdy hiking pole is a must-have for the trek.

A first-aid kit is a must-have

Remember to pack your regular medicines if you are taking any, and also have a first-aid kit in your backpack. Minor injuries and blisters can be easily treated with antiseptic liquid, ointment, and a few bandaids. To treat bigger wounds and sprains, keep a crepe bandage, gauze swabs, and medical adhesive tape. Pain-relieving sprays and balms can help muscle aches and sprains.

Stock up on common medicines like paracetamols for fever, antihistamines for allergic reactions, anti-nausea medications for motion sickness, and antacids for stomach troubles. Carry water-purification tablets in case of water scarcity.

Toiletries and Hygienic Products

Have your own set of toothbrushes, toothpaste, towel, and biodegradable soap when you're taking on a journey like this. Hand sanitizers, lip balms, and moisturizers are also helpful in maintaining hygiene. Ensure to be well-stocked in products for menstrual hygiene — menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and tampons to prevent any discomfort. Additionally, carry rolls of toilet paper and wet wipes for freshening up.

Trekking permits and travel documents

When you're entering the Valley of Flowers National Park, you will be issued a 3-days permit for INR 150 (USD 2-3) for Indians and INR 600 (USD 8-9) for foreign tourists (rates may change). This permit must be kept safely. If you plan to stay for more days, an extra fee of INR 50 (less than USD 1) for Indians and INR 250 (USD 3-4) for foreign tourists is charged per day. Photography and videography are primarily free inside, but in the case of professional videography, there are tickets available at INR 500 (USD 7-8) for Indians and INR 1500 (USD 20-25) for foreign tourists.

Carry a photo ID with address proof in case of emergencies, some photocopies of it, air/train tickets, car bookings, a map, and a guidebook.

Other important items

Carry extra batteries for your camera, chargers for your electronics, power banks, plug adapters, and spare change as ATMs are hard to come by in these remote, mountainous regions. A small, battery-operated torch, water bottles (not disposable plastic ones), sturdy trekking poles, and binoculars will come in handy on this trek.

Valley of Flowers Trek Itinerary

The most popular trekking itinerary for the Valley of Flowers is one that starts from Rishikesh. Read on to find out more in detail.

  • Day 1: Upon arriving at Rishikesh, look for public transportation to Joshimath. It takes around 10 hours to travel this distance of 255 km. You can either get a direct bus to Joshimath or opt for a more comfortable journey by booking a cab. This is at an altitude of 1828 meters. You can get any affordable hotel room here for an overnight stay.
  • Day 2: After an early breakfast, get ready for traveling up to an altitude of 3049 meters. The drive to Govindghat from Joshimath is an hour-long, covering a distance of 22 km. From Govindghat to Pulna village, the 4 km distance now has a memorable bridge. Here onwards begins your trekking adventure. Remember to pack a lunch before leaving for the 10 km trek to Ghangaria. If you have too much luggage with you, there are ponies you can book to help carry your load. You will get accommodation here for the night in the local lodges, guest houses, and luxury tents.
  • Day 3: A round trip from Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers and back to Ghangaria covers approx 7.5 km. You will climb up to reach an altitude of 3658 meters here at the Valley of Flowers. The trail will take you through winding paths of fantastic Himalayan scenery. Bask in the sight of the colorful carpet of endemic alpine flowers and exotic vegetation. There are several cascades and waterfalls on the way. The small but picturesque Pushpawati River meanders through this valley. The national park stays open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last entry into the park is allowed until 2 p.m. Make sure to return to Ghangaria by 5 p.m., or at least by sunset to spend the night here.
  • Day 4: From Ghangaria, trek to Hemkund Sahib and back, covering around 12 km. Hemkund Sahib has an elevation of about 4329 meters. Staying overnight at Hemkund Sahib is not allowed, so you have to leave by 2 p.m. to make it back to Ghangaria by sunset.
  • Day 5: Get ready to say goodbye as you leave after early morning breakfast. After trekking down to Pulna from Ghangaria, avail a car back to Govindghat.
  • Day 6: Leave for Rishikesh (via Joshimath) from Govindghat by bus or cab. Book the transportation back to your hometown accordingly.

Getting fit for the Valley of Flowers Trek

Both mental and physical fitness is of utmost importance for trekking to the Valley of Flowers. This is a moderate-level trek with a high altitude gain in only 3-4 days. So you must ensure that your body and mind are ready to take on the journey.

Your heart and lungs should be in good shape for this trek. With a disciplined, regular fitness regime, you can achieve this easily. Walking, jogging, squatting, skipping, cycling, and swimming will help you build your cardiovascular endurance. Stair climbing is another exercise that is bound to help you get more fit over time. Apart from aerobics, you can also take care of your core, back, shoulder, and leg muscles. A few gym sessions every week followed by long walks or brisk running over undulating topography will be highly beneficial for your body before this journey.

Although the Valley of Flowers Trek is an easy to moderate level trek and can be attempted by beginners, you can never know what hazards and surprises the Himalayas have in store for you. If you believe in yourself, you can certainly overcome any of the challenges that this trek poses. Train your mind to be resolute and determined. Upon completing the trek, the feeling of accomplishment is unparalleled, and that should be your desired prize if things get hard in between.

Take all necessary precautions and trekking gear while trekking to the Valley of Flowers. Regularly checking the news and weather forecast can help you plan the best trip here. Trekking to the Valley of Flowers will be a wonderful experience if you stay alert and safe.