Valley of Flowers is a fairy-land situated high in the Himalayas of the Uttaranchal, at an altitude of 3,600 meters above sea-level, protected by snowy mountains. Unknown to humans, for centuries this enchanting valley lay frozen during the colder months, and burst into its youthful beauty every year, as the snow melted with the advent of summer. Every year, the valley was splashed with color as it bloomed with hundreds of kinds of flowers, taking on various shades of colors as months progressed. Finally one day, nature condescended to bless humans with this heavenly sight, when Frank Smith – mountaineer, explorer, botanist – chanced upon it in the monsoon of 1931. He authored a book called “The Valley of Flowers” which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and made the world sit up and watch. It was declared a national park in 1982, and now it is a World Heritage Site. The locals, of course, always knew of the existence of the valley, and believed that it was inhabited by fairies. The valley is home to many celebrated flowers like the Brahmakamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily. It is a much sought after haunt for flower-lovers, botanists and of course trekkers, for whom a sufficient excuse to embark on a mission to reach a place, is that it exists!
FIXED DEPARTURE TREK SCHEDULE – 2019
Valley of Flowers is situated at an altitude of 3300 mts to 3650 mts is the paradise of nature lovers. Starting from about 6 kms from Bhuindhar village it covers an area of about 87 square kms. The valley is exceptionally rich of the flowers wealth and has the largest collection of wild flowers species. The river Pushpawati flows through the verdant valley.
The valley blooms with exotic flower from June, July till early September. There are about 520 species of flowering plants and the area was declared as a National Park in 1982. The animal like Himalayan black bears, musk deer's, brown bears, Bharal and rich variety of birds and butter flies are found in this national Park. Myriad of colours - purple, yellow, red, blue and white, that forms like a carpet on the valley floor during its full blossoming season, the Valley of Flowers National Park in the Garhwal Himalayan region is just like a plot plucked from one of the childhood fairy tales.
Representing the bond of nature and human soul, the Valley of Flowers trek is one of the beautiful treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region that receives travellers of all age from different corners of the world. The major highlight remains the blue Primula, which is the most beautiful flower of the entire Himalayan flowers and one can feast his eyes on this beautiful flower during the peak season that stretches from mid July to mid August. Further, the trek goes forward, divulging from Ghangaria to a lofty height of 4,300 meters to Hemkund Sahib, which is one of the Sikh pilgrimage sites bound within the mountains.
The tranquil and crystal clear water of the lake that reflects the surrounding peaks is another major highlight on the Valley of Flowers trek. Wooing with natural colours and faith among the travellers, the Valley of Flowers Trek expunged from Govindghat, which is approximately a 22 kilometers drive from Joshimath. The trail continues along the Alaknanda River to Ghangaria with a gentle climb passing through an evergreen forest that is abundant with wide range of Himalayan trees. The trail is strategically located with eateries along the way and is frequented by Sikh pilgrims going either ways.
You would not fail to notice the cleanliness of the trail in spite of being trodden by hundreds every day. Thanks to the volunteers who sweep the trail every day. From Ghangaria the trail splits in two. One route heads to Valley of Flowers and the other to Hemkund Sahib. The trek to Valley of Flowers National Park passes through different elements of nature, gurgling streams, ridges, forest and majestic sight of towering peaks at a distant. Slowly the trail leads to a small footway along the side of the valley followed by a sharp turn which allows you to discover the distinct and colourful nature hidden within the mountains. A botanist's haven, photographer's natural reel and frame and leisure escapers paradise, the Valley of Flowers National Park is a complete contrast to any other trekking destination in the Garhwal Himalayan region. One can even walk through the valley for another 5-7 more kms until one strikes at the glacier, which is visible at a distance. The stream flows all the way through the valley. Take off your shoes and dip your feet into it to experience the icy cold water.
Best Time to Visit Valley of Flowers
In June and July: These months one can enjoy watching waterfalls and beautiful glaciers in the valley of flowers. The big benefit of visiting in this month is that there will be very less to no rain and flowers almost start blooming.
In August and September: As snow starts melting in May and new plants starts germinating and grow up till August. One can see a lot of flowers blooming till mid August. The Best time to see maximum number of flowers is August and September one can say this is the last month for visiting valley of flower. The plants and flowers are starts drying up and put their seeds on the earth for the next season.
The season for this trek is June to September. In the initial days of the season there will be snow on the higher reaches which generally melts by mid-June. Post mid-June it could rain anytime and for any duration. In the higher mountains it normally drizzles and doesn’t pour the way it does in the plains. You will have lot of mist. Day temperatures could fall to 10-15 °C. There is possibility of sunny days also and in this case your day temperatures could go up to 20-23 °C. Evenings and nights are going to be moderately cold with temperatures around 6-14 °C.
Day 1: Drive from Haridwar - Govindghat/ Pandukeshwar via Joshimath and Devprayag
- Altitude: 1,950m/6,400ft.
- Drive: 10 hours, 270 km.
- Time taken: Expected arrival time at Sankri – 5:00 pm
- Stay: Check in local Guest House Stay.
Today morning by 6 am we start our long journey from the plains of Haridwar toward the holy Sikh shrine of Govindghat. The road (NH 58) follows initially the valley of Ganga, and later for a major section of its main tributary Alaknanda. On route we cross Rishikesh and then the confluence at Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag to reach Joshimath.
From here Govindghat (~1815 m/5950 ft) is another 20 Km. The entire distance is 290 Km and can take around 12/13 hours. There are number of private hotels and lodges serving to the tourists and pilgrims. Gurudwara provides shelter to the pilgrims going to Hemkund Sahib. Night stay at lodge/rest house.
Day 2: Drive from Govindghat/Pandukeshwar to Pulna - Trek from Pulna - Ghangaria.
- Altitude: 9,800ft
- Drive: Govindghat to Pulna (Drive 14 km) ( 20 minutes)
- Trek: Pulna to Ghangharia (9 km 4 hours)
- Trek gradient: Easy
- Water sources: Water is available along the route.
- Stay: Overnight stay in guest house/ Tent.
We start our trek to Ghangaria in the morning. We leave the Badrinath highway (NH58) and get down to the Alaknanda Rived bed and cross the bridge at the confluence of Alaknanda and Laxman/Bhyundar Ganga river. From here onward we will enter in to the Bhyundar Ganga valley. The wide track climbs steadily as we enter through the gate of the National Park.
The track is cemented or cobble stoned till Ghangaria. During the month of May and June the route is crowded due to the thousands of pilgrims. Small tea shops, Dhabas and temporary stalls offer variety of choice in every 10/15 minutes walk. We walk on the gentle inclined gradient while the river on our right (TRUE right of Laxman Ganga) to reach the first village on the route named “Pulna (~ 2050 m/6725 ft)” at a distance of 4 Km. The houses on the river bank washed off in 2013 disaster (Flash flood started in the morning so no fatalities reported in this valley). In 2/2 and half hours we reach “Jungle Chatti” at a distance of 5 Km. From here we walk another 3 Km to reach the last village on this valley called Bhyundar (~ 2550 m/8365 ft). The village destroyed in 2013 flash flood and residents were shifted lower in the valley. The river (with a tributary coming from Kagbhusandi Tal) has taken a course on the erstwhile village.
At Bhyundar we cross the bridge on the Laxman Ganga and turn left. From here the climb is somewhat steep for next hour and half on a ridge. The trail is moist, full of Maple, Deodar and Rhododendron trees. Drongo, Magpie, Bushchat and Thrushes are common. After climbing to the top the ridge a View Point welcomes us in the left. From this point the valley widens and the track is flat for next 15 minutes. Ghangaria helipad and the camping ground is on our left. It is another 10 minutes walk to the main street of Ghangaria (~3050 m/10000 ft). Total distance is 13 Km and may take 6/7 hours. Ghangaria is not a village but essentially a one street/main Bazaar based settlement serving the tourists and pilgrims. There are several hotels/lodges, shops and a Gurudwara. Electricity and STD booths are available. Night stay in lodge.
Day 3: Trek from Ghangaria - Valley Of Flowers and back.
- Altitude: 11,500ft
- Trek: 5 km one side/ 4-5 Hrs
- Trek gradient: Easy
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles in the river along the trail.
- Stay: Overnight stay in Guest house.
We leave early in the morning after breakfast to the much revered valley. Crossing the last stretch of Ghangaria we cross a bridge on the Laxman Ganga. The the he track bifurcates and we move on to the left. The main trail on the right goes to Hemkund Sahib.
Suddenly the atmosphere changes and nature starts unfurling its treasure cove. The river Pushpawati flows to our left. Side streams forming waterfalls over the sheer rocky cliff are common in monsoon. We walk for half a Km to cross the river and stay on the true right of Pushpawati. Stories are often heard that people became senseless or unconscious inside the valley, thanks to the intoxicating smell!
Please DON’T touch and trample any flower or plant, and always stay on the well defined track. Pleasant smell of vegetation and fresh air enthral every visitor. The valley starts changing its hue and turns into a fairyland. Large swath of the valley is covered in pink due to the Himalayan Balsam, or white for Anemones. Observe the tiny myriad little flowers like Gentians or Asters. The entire area seems like Eden while sheer mountain cliffs encompassing the valley. The hike is gentle and we walk slowly to get the smell of the mist and contrasting colours. Closely observe the buds, leaves and flowers with combinations of different size, shape and colour.
The river Pushpawati cuts along the valley and gushing down to the bottom of the valley. Look out carefully for the many tiny to medium size of birds on the trees and flowering plants. After moving around 4 Km packed lunch is served. After 6 Km or so we reach the head of the valley. We can continue further north to the valley where the trail goes along almost river bed. You can see the Tipra glacier and Rataban peak towering the backdrop. We reach an altitude of ~3450 m/11320 ft. Spend some time and retrace the trail till Ghangaria. Distance is 8 Km and time spent around 6/8 hours. Night stay in hotel.
Day 4: Trek from Ghangaria to Hemkund and back.
- Altitude: 14,100 ft
- Trek: 6 km one side / 5-6 Hrs
- Trek gradient: Gradual and steep mixed ascent
- Water sources:Can refill water from road side dhabas
- Stay: Overnight stay in Guest house.
Today we will visit to the holy shrine of Hemkund Sahib. It is only 6 Km from Ghangaria but at an altitude which is alpine and above tree line. The track is wide and well defined as thousands of pilgrims visit every year. Tea stalls and Dhaba are available throughout. Brahma Kamal blooms in abundance around this trail while approaching altitude of 4000 m. The climb is continuous with a moderate gradient. It may take 3 and half/4 hours to reach.
The lake is a delight to watch and remains misty during monsoon . Spend some time around the lake and have a cup of milk tea served by the Gurudwara committee. Weather can turn bad easily at this altitude. Start your return by 1:30 pm. Total distance is 12 Km and may take 7/8 hours. Night stay at Ghangaria hotel.
Day 5: Trek from Ghangaria - Pulna and drive back from Pulna to Govindghat/ Pandukeshwar.
- Drive: Pulna to Govindghat (Drive 14 km) ( 20 minutes)
- Trek: Ghangharia to Pulna (9 km 4 hours)
- Trek gradient: Easy
- Water sources: Water is available along the route.
- Stay: Overnight stay in guest house.
Today we start our descent in the morning to Govindghat and reach by afternoon. May take 6/7 hours. Night stay in hotel.
Day 6: Drive back to Haridwar from Govindghat/ Pandukeshwar
By car we get back to Haridwar by 8 pm in the evening. Book your tickets for return journey 9 pm or later.
The Trip Cost Includes
- Transport Haridwar to Govindghat and return.
- All accommodation during trek. (Guesthouse, Homestay,).
- All meals during trek. (Veg. + Egg).
- Necessary Permits and first aid medical kits
- Qualified and experienced mountain guide, and support staff.
- Oxygen Cylinder and stretcher for emergency case.
- High altitude rescue expert trek leader.
- Necessary equipments for climbing, ropes, ice axe and other technical gear for climbing.
- Mules to carry the central luggage.
The Trip Cost Excludes
- Fees and permit for Non-Indian residence are excluded
- Any type of personal expenses
- Extra snacks and meals during trek from shop.
- Insurance of the trip
- Things not mentioned under Inclusions.
- Mule or porter to carry personal luggage.
- Personal gear, and equipment
- A rucksack with rain cover
- A water bottle or a hydration pack
- A Hand/Head Torch with spare batteries
- UV Protection Sunglasses
- A trekking pole
Since it is a high altitude trek, at least 3 layers of clothing is mandatory. A full sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket, and a padded jacket are imperative. An additional layer (Thermal bodywarmers) for the evenings in the high altitude campsites are strongly recommended
- Quick Dry Warm lower or Track Pants - 2
- Full sleeves T-shirts - 2
- Thermal Bodywarmer Upper & Lower - 1
- Fleece Jacket - 1
- Padded Jacket -1 (Goose down or feather is preferable)
- Full sleeves sweater - 1 (Needed if you feel cold at high altitudes despite 4 layers)
- Rainwear (Jacket & Pants) - 1
- Thick woolen socks - 1 pair
- Cotton socks - at least 2-3 pairs
- Undergarments - 1 for every day of trekking
- Pair of Warm Gloves - 1
- Woolen cap - 1
- Hiking shoes (Preferably ankle high) -1
- Pair of lightweight Slipper/Sandals - 1 pair.
- Sunscreen lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet roll, cold cream, small towel.
- Anti-fungal cream: Carry an antifungal cream if you are sensitive to sweating and prone to skin irritations around genitals or groin area due to lack of bathing.
- For women:
- Tampons or sanitary napkins,
- 2-3 zip pouches to dispose off non-biodegradable waste
- Vaginal wash to avoid any irritation due to lack of bathing.
- Water bottle
- Camera (optional)
- Personal medicine kit. Though our trek leaders carry a fully equipped first-aid kit, make sure you consult your doctor before the trek in case you have any special ailment.
- Dry fruits, energy bars
The Valley of Flowers trek is classified as a moderate trek. You trek up to an altitude of 14,100 feet at Hemkund Sahib from 6,234 ft at Govind Ghat. That is a huge altitude gain and you have to make sure your lungs are strong enough to acclimatise to thin air for more work.
Here is the training schedule to prepare for the trek. Our treks are generally planned in a way that on an average you have to cover around 6-7 Kms in 5 hours although there may be slight variation depending on the terrain. This works out to roughly 1.5km per hour which is equivalent to walking in the plains at 6 km per hour. You can train yourself to run 3 kms in 30 minutes as per the schedule given below. Remember always start your training program with stretching and warm up exercises.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
- Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better)
- Hold your breath for 40 seconds
- 3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch
- Push Ups – 10
- Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets
Monitoring health on a trek
Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
On the trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone . Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.
Acclimatisation in high altitude
This is one of the most important aspects of travelling in the high Himalayas and cannot be ignored or set aside. Acclimatisation basically means our body adjusting to lower levels of oxygen (rarefied air) & reduced air pressure as me move up. In case one does not acclimatise properly there are chances of the person facing extreme discomfort and this can be fatal in extreme cases. While there is no set route to getting properly acclimatised there are a general precautions and steps that one can take to initiate good acclimatisation.
Haridwar is the base location for our Valley of Flowers trek and not Govindghat or Joshimath. Our meeting point in Haridwar is railway station. We will pick you up at 6:00 AM in the morning and start the drive to Govindghat. The entire drive from Haridwar to Govindghat takes around 10 Hours.
Reaching Haridwar by Flights
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to Haridwar and is situated 36 Kms from Haridwar. Taxis are easily available from Jolly Grant Airport to Haridwar.
Reaching by train
Haridwar is well connected by railway network with major destinations of India because it’s a major pilgrim centre.
Following is the list of useful trains to reach Haridwar from Delhi:
12017 DEHRADUN SHTBDI
19565 UTTARANCHAL EXPRESS
22659 DEHRADUN EXPRESS
14309 UJJAINI EXPRESS
14317 IND DDN EXPRESS
12055 DDN JANSHTBDI
12687 DEHRADUN EXPRESS
14041 MUSSOORIE EXPRESS
12205 NANDA DEVI EXPRESS
For exact timings & Schedule of trains please check the Indian Railway official site.
Reaching Haridwar by Road (Bus)
Haridwar is well connected with comfortable Volvo buses run by government and private operators. You can catch luxury and normal buses to Haridwar which are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate.