No matter what your experience levels are when it comes to trekking, if you haven’t embarked upon the Valley of Flowers trek of Uttarakhand, you haven’t trekked enough. Nestled in the Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, the Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most well-known Himalayan treks in the world, and the oldest trek of India. Discovered by a group of British mountaineers in 1931, the awe-inspiring valley is a sight to behold, and lives up to its name in the most enchanting ways.
Open to visitors from the months of June to September, the monsoon-drenched valley spreads through the Himalayas and is a vibrant abode of alpine flora. Home of more than 600 different varieties of flowers, including some rare and exotic variants, Valley of Flowers brings the most beautiful fairytale of nature to life. Located at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet, the serene valley offers a bewitching glimpse into the Himalayan beauty that encompasses tall mountains, lush green valleys, crystal clear streams, and a purity that remains unmatched.
Trek to Valley of Flowers is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers trekkers, both experienced and amateur, an adrenaline rush that stunningly contrasts with the soothing spiritual aura of Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and the tranquil blooms of nature.
The itinerary for a standard six-day Valley of Flowers trek package starts from and ends at Haridwar.
Day 1: Reach the base camp at Govindghat.
Day 2: Reach Ghangharia from Govindghat, the first stop en route to Valley of Flowers, via Poolna.
Day 3: Trek to Valley of Flowers from Ghangaria and return along the same path to Ghangaria.
Day 4: Head to Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara from Ghangaria and trek back to Ghangaria.
Day 5: Trek from Ghangaria to Poolna and take a ride back to Govindghat base camp.
Day 6: Head back to Haridwar from Govindghat base camp.
Reaching the base camp at Govindghat
Distance: 300 kilometres
Duration: 10 hours
Elevation: 6,215 feet
Govindghat to Ghangharia via Poolna
Distance: 13 kilometres
Duration: Approx 6 hours
Elevation: 10,250 feet
Ghangharia – Valley of Flowers – Ghangharia
Distance: 3.7 kilometres (one side)
Duration: Approx 7 hours
Elevation: 11,550 feet
Ghangharia – Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara - Ghangaria
Distance 6 kilometres (one side)
Duration: 10 hours
Elevation: 14,107 feet
An early start to the day is absolutely essential, as you would have to cover 6 kilometres each way between Ghangaria and Hemkund Sahib.
Trekkers reach an altitude of 14,107 feet from 10,520 feet and come back down over a period of approximately 10 hours.
This moderate-difficult trek, which includes a steep ascent of around 4 hours to Hemkund Sahib and steep descent back, is popular as a serenely beautiful pilgrimage trek.
A highlight of the trek is the Hemkund Sahib Lake, a calm attraction in the midst of tall mountains. This trail is the most strenuous part of the Valley of Flowers trek.
By afternoon, begin the steep descent back to Ghangharia, where you would stay overnight.
Ghangharia to Govindghat via Poolna
Distance: 13 kilometres
Duration: Approx 5 hours
Elevation: 6,215 feet
Govindghat to Haridwar
Distance: 300 kilometres
Duration: 10 hours
Elevation: 1,030 feet
Valley of Flowers is among the most popular attractions of Uttarakhand and is the epitome of Himalayan exquisiteness. From lush greenery to vibrant blooms, experience nature at its finest as you trek through the valley and witness snow-clad peaks, tall mountains, and flowing rivers amidst a sea of flora.
It was in 1931 that a group of British mountaineers, lost on their way to Mt Kamet, stumbled upon a valley full of alpine flowers, and named it ‘The Valley of Flowers’. Locals, however, knew of the valley as a land of the gods and fairies.
The legend also mentioned how when one went to the valley, they were captured by the fairies and never came back. By 1980, the Indian government had recognised this abode of nature as a National Park, and it was in 2002 that the site got its most prestigious tag, that of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While the traditional trek route is known to be the Govindghat – Ghangaria route, there once existed another route that has recently been reopened to visitors. It was in 1970 that the alternate route, known as the Kunthkhal – Hanuman Chatti route, was closed for visitors due to the rising popularity of the Ghangaria route.
After a long period of no human contact, the Kunthkhal route is more adventurous and has stunning visual treats that can’t be found on the traditional route. So, if you are looking for a trek that indulges your explorer instincts, try out this alternate route for your Valley of Flowers trek.
Valley of Flowers trek package offers an easy to moderate trekking experience, but it's not that simple! From amateurs to senior trekkers, all those opting to embark on this trek need to remember a few important tips to ensure they make the best out of this journey to the crowning jewel of Himalayan treks.
There has traditionally been one route for the Valley of Flowers trek, known as the Govindghat – Ghangaria route. Recently, however, another route, which was the original route before it was closed off in 1970, has been reopened for visitors and is known as the Kunthkhal – Hanuman Chatti route.
Govindghat – Ghangaria route: This route begins from Govindghat, which is the base camp for the Valley of Flowers trek. Govindghat is accessible from Haridwar, Rishikesh and Joshimath. The next stop on the journey is Ghangaria, which one reaches via Pulna village. After Ghangaria, trek up to the iconic Valley of Flowers via the well-trodden path. Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is the highest and final point in this route. Trace back the same trail back until you reach Govindghat.
Koonthal – Hanuman Chatti route: This alternate route is more difficult than the regular route, and is meant for adventurous trekkers wishing to explore new trails. The base camp is at Govindghat, and the route is similar to the traditional one till Ghangaria and changes thereafter. Experience the Valley of Flowers as you climb up to Kunthkhal via the newly opened route after Ghangharia. The next stop is at Palsi Uddyar, which is a small meadow. The final stop is at Hanuman Chatti, from where you can take a ride directly to Badrinath or Joshimath.
The best time to embark on the Valley of Flowers trek, which opens to visitors in June, is during the months of July, August, and September. The trek is not known for its snow experience, but trekkers might witness snow patches in the early season. The day temperatures in these months range between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius, while temperatures at night drop to a minimum of 3 degrees.
The Valley of Flowers trek package offers unique experiences in different months. In July, when the snow is still melting, trekkers can witness flowers as they begin to bloom. A vision to behold with the myriad colours of the flowers, the valley has the least number of visitors this month. As monsoon gains momentum in the second half of the month, expect lush greenery like never before as you trek through the valley.
The maximum number of flowers can be witnessed in August when monsoon rains wash the valley and bring alive a world of stunning colours. While weekends see crowds, if you plan a trek on the weekdays, you would be able to enjoy the blossoms at leisure.
With the end of August and by September, flowers have mostly wilted, but visitors are graced with views of the bewitching mountains as the monsoon ends. September sees the highest crowds in the valley as pilgrims visit the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara.
Trekking shoes: Durable trekking shoes that withstand snow and rain as well as provide ankle support and good grip.
Backpack: Ideal capacity of 50 to 60 litres and offers proper hip and shoulder support and has quick access pockets.
Clothes: Choose synthetic dry-fit T-shirts for the base camp and a minimum of three warm layers for the trek. Include light woollens like inner thermals, fleece layers, light sweaters, and a padded jacket.
Trek Pants: Take a maximum of two pairs of quick-dry trek pants with zippered pockets for your necessary accessories.
Accessories: Some mandatory accessories include sunglasses, sun caps, hand gloves, woollen caps, socks, headlamps, a pair of trekking poles, rainwear, a rain cover for your backpack, and an optional daypack of 20-30 litres.
Kits: Take along a toilet kit that includes basics like toothbrush and toothpaste, small soap and toilet paper, small moisturiser, roll-on deodorant, lip balm, and sanitary napkins. Cutlery like a lunchbox, mug, spoon, and plastic bags to keep your used clothes come in handy too.
It is advised that you carry a medical kit with all necessary supplies with you at all times. Important recommended medications include Diamox for ACM, Dolo 650 for fevers, Avomine for motion sickness, Combiflam for muscle aches, Digene for indigestion, and ORS for replenishment. Remember to carry simple first aid items and your specific medications in your kit.
Carrying an original government-approved ID card and its photocopy, a passport-size photograph, a disclaimer certificate, and a medical certificate from a practising doctor are necessary for the Valley of Flowers trek package. It is advised that you take them along in a plastic folder in your trekking backpack.
The starting point for the Valley of Flowers trek package is at Haridwar, Uttarakhand. One can reach this stunning town either by air from Dehradun or by train and bus from Delhi, which are the nearest centres that offer direct connectivity to Haridwar.
By Air: If you wish to take a flight, Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, located around 28 kilometres away from Haridwar, is the nearest. Take a taxi, auto, or bus to reach Haridwar from the airport. One can also opt to fly to Delhi and take a train or bus to reach Haridwar.
By Train: Haridwar has its own railway station which is well-connected to the rest of India. One can get direct trains to Haridwar from major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Kochi, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, and Deharadun.
By Bus: One can find comfortable buses from Delhi’s ISBT Kashmere Gate for Haridwar. The journey takes approximately five hours.
Once you reach Haridwar, it is highly recommended that you spend a night here to ensure you are well-rested and acclimated to the environment before you embark on your Valley of Flowers trekking package.
One needs to hop on a bus from Haridwar to reach Govindghat, which is the base camp of the Valley of Flowers trek. Another drive from Govindghat to Poolna takes you to the starting point of your much-anticipated Himalayan trek.
If a Himalayan trek is on your bucket list, there’s no better destination than the Valley of Flowers to tick that off the list! Whether you are an amateur trekker or have years of experience, the Valley of Flowers trek offers an unmatched sight for the eyes and an adventure that is one-of-a-kind. Located at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet, the trek has an easy-to-moderate difficulty level, making it the perfect combination of thrilling yet comfortable. While the well-defined Govindghat-Ghangaria route is ideal for regular trekking, if you are looking for something challenging, take the Kunthkhal-Hanuman Chatti route. And if trekking for you is a way to get close to nature, the Valley of Flowers has everything from the mighty Himalayas and clear streams to flowers that bring to life every colour under the sun.
How Difficult is the trek to Valley of Flowers?
The difficulty level of a trek is determined based on many factors, which range from weather conditions and the nature of the terrain to the distance covered each day and the highest altitude. The Valley of Flowers trek, which at its highest altitude elevates 14,107 feet, has been rated as an easy to moderate level trek. Well paved and defined, the trek has several easy exits, with ponies available for hire if you wish to reduce the difficulty level of the trek.
Recommended for beginners and experienced trekkers alike, those choosing the Valley of Flowers trekking package need to have good fitness levels. If you plan to trek through the enchanting valley and want to know if you meet the required fitness levels, a simple test is running for five kilometres in less than forty minutes.
Make your workout consistent by aiming to complete 20 kilometres of jogging in a week to prepare for your Himalayan trek. Fitness is an important factor as you would have to walk approximately six to eight kilometres every day, walk through tricky patches and small streams, and experience deep ascents and descents.
How long is the Valley of Flowers trek?
The Valley of Flowers trek lasts for four days, excluding the time needed to drive to and from the trek starting point. The trek duration can also be extended as per your convenience. The trek is 38 kilometres long and encompasses exquisite floral blooms, serene water streams, and stunning views of the mighty mountains.
How fit do I need to be to do the Valley of Flowers trek?
The Valley of Flowers trek has an easy-to-moderate difficulty level, but nevertheless requires trekkers to have good fitness levels. The trek has lengthy high-altitude climbs on all days of the tour, so adequate fitness is necessary to ensure trekkers can embark on the journey. You must be able to run for five kilometres in less than forty minutes. Make your workout consistent by aiming to complete 20 kilometres of jogging in a week to prepare for your Himalayan trek.
How safe is the Valley of Flowers trek?
As one of the oldest and most well-known Himalayan treks, the Valley of Flowers is absolutely safe for trekkers of all experience levels. The paths are well-defined and well-laid, although the ascent can get a bit steep at places. Many visitors trek through the valley at all times so that you won’t be alone on your journey. Remember to carry along all the trek essentials to keep yourself ready for the monsoon rains and snow you might encounter on the trek.
What are the opening hours for Valley of Flowers?
The Valley of Flowers opens at 7 AM and the last entry is at 2 PM. It is open on all days during the trekking season.
Is there an entry fee for Valley of Flowers?
A nominal entry fee is charged from visitors to the Valley of Flowers. Indians need to pay INR 150 for three days, while foreigners are charged INR 600 for the same period of time.
Why it is Known as Valley of Flowers?
Valley of Flowers National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state in India. One of the best and most enchanting attractions nestled in the mighty Himalayas, the trek to Valley of Flowers is one of the oldest and best-known Himalayan treks. Home to a stunning variety of flora, the valley is an abode of colours and splendid views of mountains and their natural beauty.