Noted as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the Valley of Flowers National Park, just as its name says, is a beautiful valley filled with many different colours of flowers. Its location is in North Chamoli, in Uttarakhand to be precise. Many tourists love to go on the challenging valley of Flowers trek and this affords them the opportunity of seeing the valley’s richly diverse area of endemic alpine flowers as well as rare and endangered species of animals such as the red fox, the brown bear, snow leopard, the musk deer, the blue sheep and other animals.
You might be wondering how the valley got its name, but this beautiful valley and its flower meadows were brought to the limelight and to the knowledge of the rest of the world in 1931 by British mountaineers, Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton and R. Holdsworth. After returning from their successful expedition, they lost their way and it was in this process they stumbled upon the valley, were so attracted by the alpine flowers and other colorful flowers they found.
This attraction brought up the simple name, ‘the Valley of Flowers’ and it was named in that manner. The Valley of Flowers is situated at about 3,352 to 3,658 meters above sea level and the expanse of the Park is notable. As a high altitude Himalayan Valley, tourists and travelers who partake in the valley of Flowers trek, as challenging as it might be, need to prepare for altitude sickness in case they begin to feel wary of the height.
What you need to know about the journey to the Valley of Flowers
The trek begins from Haridwar first. You can get to Haridwar either by air, by train or by bus. Partaking in the Valley of Flowers Trek would take you six days to complete, and thus you must be fit and ready, not just physically but you must also be ready for many moments of excitement and the things you would see and explore on your journey. Beautiful Himalayan flowers such as the blue primula can be seen thriving all over the meadows. If you decide to go on the valley of Flowers trek in the summer then you’re in luck as many of the flowers would be seen blooming and blossoming.
Some of the things you are advised to carry with you on this trip include the following, but are not limited to these: water resistant trekking pants, gaiters, sturdy walking stick, a scarf or a muffler, personal medicine and toiletries, sun glasses or a face cap, sunscreen, comfortable water proofed shoes that you can hike in with thick soles, rain coat, a thick jacket, other warm clothing, refillable water bottle for hydration, woolen socks, lip balm, thermos flask, energy bar and dry fruits, long sleeves and much more.
Important Things to Note
Other things you should put into consideration before going for this trip are:
- If you are one to regularly suffer from altitude sickness it’s advised that you take advice from your doctor if to join the valley of Flowers trek or not, as your health is of utmost importance and it’s unwise and unsafe to fall badly ill during the treks.
- You must never stray too far from your group leader or the members of your trekking group during the trek.
- Avoid consuming alcohol and other intoxicating drinks.
- Keep your wraps and dirt to yourself and properly dispose of them. The valley of Flowers is a beautiful place and you should also try and be eco-friendly.
- The valley of Flowers trek is beautiful but don’t trek at night, stay safe with your group.
Details of the Valley of Flowers Trek
Starting the journey from Haridwar to Joshimath
On the first day you will have to begin your journey from Haridwar. Make sure to leave Haridwar or Rishikesh early in the morning as you will have to travel along River Alaknanda on the Badrinath Highway. You will notice that the roads have been quite dangerously routed and you will only see the river flowing as you look out from your vantage point. During the journey, you may choose if you wish to carry food or not as there are plenty of places to buy your food at on the way. Remember to also try and travel light so don’t take a backpack too heavy.
Your journey from Haridwar to Joshimath would take about nine hours and so it would be long. You’ll constantly keep seeing the river as you trudge uphill. You’ll also pass the 4 holy confluences of the Ganga known as Nandaprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag and Devprayag. It would be a good opportunity for you to look around.
Journey to Ghangaria via Joshimath
On the second day you will be going to Govindghat all the way from Joshimath, and it’s about 22 km distance from each other. Make sure to have your sumptuous breakfast as your breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. From Joshimath, on your way to Govindghat you will see the final Vishnuprayag, one of the confluences of the Ganga. You will begin the Ghangaria trek from Pulna which is the starting point. You’ll have to go 9 km uphill along the Pushpawati river route. You’ll see that you aren’t the only one going on a trek and thus the pathways would usually be crowded, but you’ll also notice how despite how many people are walking past these path, the route is clean, many thanks to the people who also volunteer to sweep it and keep the paths clean. You’ll also find many snack shops around so make sure you refill your water bottles and get something to eat ranging from hot noodles to bread.
You’ll arrive at Bhyundar village after walking for 5km, you can take a stop here to have a clear view point of Hathi Pathi. You can also take many pictures on the way. Though the trek takes about 5-6 hours, you’ll reach Ghangaria before dusk. In Ghangaria you’ll find out there’s space for camping and there’s a helipad. You can also stay in the hotels.
Trek from Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers and back
On the third day, be sure again to have your breakfast as the journey to the valley of Flowers is about 4 km from Ghangaria. Although the valley is 6-7 km long, yourself and other trekkers will get to decide how far you want to travel and how much of the valley you wish to explore. It’s challenging to go on the valley of flowers trek so having enough stamina is important. To help you with energy make sure that before leaving Ghangaria for the Valley of Flowers, pack your own lunch from Ghangaria as there would be no food available in the valley and camping overnight isn’t allowed, this is why you have to go back to Ghangaria later on that day.
After trekking for about thirty minutes from Ghangaria, right after the check post you’ll find the incredible Laxman Waterfall which is such an amazing sight to see. In another 30 minutes you will see again as the Pushpavati river excitedly runs through, under a wooden bridge. When the afternoon sun comes up, you’ll see how it gives the valley a beautiful glow and from this, you’ll also notice beautiful flowers like the Meadow Perineum, Hooked Stick Seed, Blue Poppy, Snake Foil, Himalayan Rose and others. The valley is indeed more beautiful than what you would have seen in pictures, so after your trek in the valley of Flowers, you will head back to Ghangaria before the night.
Ghangaria Trek to Hemkund Sahib and Return
For this, you have to begin your day early. Hemkund Sahib is about 6 km away and this is one of the most revered Sikh Shrines there is. Known as the World’s Highest Gurudwara, Hemkund Sahib is really high at about 4,329 meters. As you walk you will see the trail and paths paved with stone. On this particular trail there are also shops for you to buy snacks and energize yourself. Ask your guide as well to point out to you the rare Brahma Kamal flower that is littered around the pathways and also look out for the beautiful lake in Hemkund.
Remember to take breaks often to refill your energy and stamina before climbing up more peaks. When you take a break or sit down, you get to relax your muscles and your back. Also lay down and enjoy looking into the beautiful sky and scenery around you. Later on in the afternoon you will head back so you can spend your evening relaxing and perhaps making new friends or reminiscing over the day’s trek.
Ghangaria to Govindghat to Pulna and drive to Joshimath
After your breakfast in the morning, you will descend to Govindghat via Pulna and then drive to Joshimath. Make sure on this day, you take in the full scenery and enjoy your last few moments there. From this place also, Badrinath an hour away but you can only visit Badrinath if the road and weather conditions are clement enough. Because Govindghat to Badrinath is prone to landslides, if the weather is unfavorable then a trip to Badrinath will be skipped and instead you’ll go directly to Joshimath where you’ll stay overnight in a hotel.
Departure from Joshimath to Haridwar
To head towards Haridwar from Joshimath, you have to leave on time as early as 6am as the drive is a very lengthy one. Be sure to have your breakfast and lunch so you don’t get weary and tired. You should get to Haridwar around 6 or 7pm.