5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley Of Flowers Trek

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Bloom captured in Valley of Flowers Trek.

Valley of Flowers, seems to have become the most sought after trek  in India over the last few years. I first heard about this trek in 2007. Being a nature lover, it captured my mind space and became a must visit place for me. After “last-minute” cancellations both in 2009 and 2010, I was not sure if I would ever make it to Valley of Flowers. But then my luck took a U-turn & I made it to Valley of Flowers in 2012. Despite many “if’s and but’s” like fitness of the road, accommodation, weather etc all went well. Looking back, I’m sure there are many more like me anxious to seek information and prepare fully before embarking on a Valley of Flowers trek.  So here is a small primer to help you with Valley of Flowers Trek preparation.

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5 things to prepare for Valley of Flower

1. Weather Conditions for Valley of Flowers trek

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Rains on way to Valley of Flowers trek. Badrinath Highway with Ganga running parallel to the road

Valley of Flowers (VOF) is a monsoon trek therefore rain is  part and parcel of this journey. There are every chances that it’ll rain during your trip; It might rain everyday or if you’re super lucky, may be just for few hours!!. So before you begin, please understand VOF and rains are inseparable. Once you accept it and prepare so, it’ll make things easier. 

2. Landslides

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BRO – Border Road Organization guys working hard to clear the roadblock due to Landslide on Badrinath Highway on way to Valley Of Flowers trek.

Now that we have accepted that rains are part and parcel of Valley of Flowers trek, landslides are “byproduct” of rainy season on this route – Badrinath Highway. Almost all major landslide zones have been identified and provisioned for by Border Road Organization(BRO) who maintain this highway . The BRO is doing excellent job to keep the highway open for the vehicular traffic. A bulldozer is always on the standby at all such landslide zones. However, avoid travelling on the highway when the rains are in full force, specially during night time. I did not face any inconvenience when the traffic was stalled due to landslides, the road was cleared within half an hour. On a positive note, If you have never seen a landslide, it’s something to add on to your experiences.

3. Valley of flowers trek difficulty level?

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Zig zag inclined trail do tend to sap you out of energy especially if you are not fit or have never trekked before. Valley of Flowers Trek trail, steep ascend just before Ghangharia village.

In reality, it’s technically not a serious trek. The walking path is quite wide and surface is either  cemented or  stones have been laid over it. Some sections do have steep ascend, but they form a very small part of the entire trail. Overall, the trail can be covered within 6-8 hours at an easy pace. I will suggest you to improve your fitness level and stamina before undertaking this trek if you lead a sedentary life. Ideally, prepare your body for a month and half by working out and stretching routines. You need to ensure that your legs and calves are in great shape to undertake long uphill walk. Also, focus on your upper body parts  too like shoulder and chest to prepare them well to bear the load of backpack/ daypack. Prepare yourself well and enjoy the trail.

Check out Part 2 of this series: How to plan Valley Of Flowers Trek /12 points Guide

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Uneven surface which trail upwards for 12-13 kms in Valley of Flowers Trek requires physical fitness.

4. Shoes…. What type of shoes for Valley of Flowers?

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Trekking shoes used by me during Valley Of Flower trek. FILA outdoor shoes. Even though FILA is not known for outdoor shoes but this pair lasted me for good 4 years!

Shoe is the most important aspect of walking and surely it needs a special emphasis when you have to walk uphill  for 6-8 hours and more on the subsequent days.  As I wrote earlier, Valley Of Flowers is not a technical trek, you can use any sturdy, well cushioned shoes. Even then, there are two factors which needs special attention. One, rain makes things difficult. Two, stone laden path needs side support/ enforcement which an average sports shoes lacks.

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One needs good shoes to traverse through such trail. On way to Valley of Flowers trek, Uttarakhand, India.

Shoes with water resistant property will surely make things easier as wet shoe is the most difficult part to handle in this trek. Damp and cloudy weather doesn’t help to make shoe walk worthy, if it gets drenched in rain. You can opt for water resistant, high ankle shoes from Decathlon or Hi-Tec brands. Quechua Forclaz 500/100 from Decathlon is the most popular trekking shoe in India which can be bought from Decathlon stores or online through their website. Hi-Tec shoes are available on Amazon.in website. I’m not mentioning any specific Hi-Tec models since availability of these shoes is erratic. You can buy any other brand which offers sturdy shoes having water resistant property and has side wall enforcement for protection with adequate sole cushioning. Do note following points.

  • If you have bought new pair of shoe, wear it for at least 15 days prior to trek so that your feet get used to it and its adequately broken in.
  • Do not trek in old shoes which are on the verge of giving away. Some sites suggest you to carry spare pair if you are using old shoes to trek. I personally believe that it’s  better to use a new shoes rather than to carry around extra pair which only adds to your backpack weight!
  • High ankle is preferable, but if you don’t have one, it should not be a major cause of worry. I trekked VOF and Hemkund Sahib with low ankle shoes.

You’ll meet many pilgrims walking all the way to Hemkund Sahib on same trail wearing slippers, cheap Rs 200 sports shoes bought in Gobindghat and some are even barefoot. It makes one wonder – is expensive gear is actually important? I guess faith & strong mental mindset makes it all possible!

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Valley of Flowers Trail running close to the river; note the uneven surface of the Valley of Flower Trek that shoe need to encounter.

5. Rain Gear for Valley of Flower trek

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Rain gear is must on Valley of Flowers & Hem Kund trek

Rain protection is another important aspect to prepare for in this trek. There are various options to choose from.  Poncho, rain suit, rain jacket, umbrella….which one? Let me offer few points for your to consider each of them.

  • Poncho will protect your upper body  and  backpack/daypack during rains. It offers no protection for your lower body,socks and shoes
  • 2 piece Rain Suit. It offers complete  rain protection barring your backpack/daypack. You need to buy rain cover for backpack/daypack  separately.
  • Rain jacket offers protection only for your upper body. No protection for your lower body and backpack. Usually, it has a built in hood.
  • Umbrella is useless for this trek, as walking uphill for long period with umbrella is a tough choice. You can consider taking one along if you like to do some photography during light drizzle. It might also come handy when you are camping/ staying in Ghangharia.
  • Gobindghat market offers cheap use and throw plastic ponchos. They are no re-usable as it’s made of flimsy material. If you intend to use these disposable ponchos do carry  adequate numbers to last you for  the entire trek trail. This can be your best option if you don’t wish to invest in rain suit or re-usable ponchos. I personally don’t prefer to use disposable ponchos. These ponchos are not disposed properly by users. Most trekkers & pilgrims heading to Hemkund Sahib dump them on the trail or wherever it pleases them adding to the growing plastic menace in ecological fragile zone.

Using any kind of rain gear mentioned above except umbrella during trek will surely cause lot of sweating as the material is not breathable. It’s best to wear no sweat material as cotton gets drenched with sweat and is difficult to dry off. Also, synthetic garments tend to dry faster in humid conditions in comparison to cotton.

The above five points deal with psychological aspects of Valley of Flowers trek which is not exhaustive in any ways. If you have some more questions or queries do post them here in comment section, I’ll be happy to answer them for you.   

Check out Part 2 of this series: How to plan Valley Of Flowers Trek /12 points Guide

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Beautiful vistas inside Valley of Flowers. Valley of Flowers Trek

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61 thoughts on “5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley Of Flowers Trek

  1. Well thought Article. I would second the pointers on being prepared to handle the weather and its elements. A good quality Poncho and a water resistant Hiking Boot is a life saver. A Trekking Pole or a walking stick is a useful assistant in any Himalayan Trek. Also if you are a photographer, you want to carry protection for your expensive DSLR and the lenses. Water seeping into Sensor is a real threat on this trek.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Vaibhav! Initially this was meant to be a 10 pointer guide but then I curtailed it to 5 focusing more on aspects beyond the gear -the mental preparation. I feel not many articles focus on psychology aspect which is important part of trek preparations. If you know what is expected,it saves you lot of trouble!! Taking your suggestion I will post another one, with other aspects including the ones suggested by you. Thanks for the feedback – as always.:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vaibhav, I will let this blog be as it is. I will post another one, very soon with more things added that I feel will help fellow trekkers. I don’t prefer posting travelogue which are pretty detailed, internet is full of these.I feel resources in our country for hikers are quite limited, I’ll rather add on something else. You are free to reblog this one and next one too! Friends don’t need permissions 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am trekking with my wife who is not an ardent Trekker, let’s just keep it as zzz she is like wives generally are.
    Guess making her read this and getting her present to what VOF is about should cushion the blow while on trek.
    Great write up buddy !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sadhana, camping is prohibited inside valley of flowers. you stay at ghangharia, base camp settlement before VOF. options for stay at ghangharia are in form of concrete structures. if you wish to stay in tents you can book tented accommodation by Camp Sarover. These are located a km prior to Ghangharia near helipad. If you prefer using trek agency, GIO adventure also has tented accommodation located right next to Camp Sarover.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. hey very nicely explained. I have planned to VOF in AUG 2016 with my wife. Hope I will get accommodation in Ghanghariya. Is there any way to get guide who can guide us in VOF and Hemkund to get more flowers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vyankatesh! Thank you for reading the write up.happy to know that you’re visiting VOF in August. finding accommodation in ghangharia is not a problem if you can adjust as per what is available – quality of lodge /rooms. The best bet would be Sarover portico tents, if you like swiss tents. Other good option is Gmvn hotel. Finding room here is tricky though. I’ll be addressing some more issues related to VOF in next post along with accommodation.
      There are guides available in ghangharia. I remember there’s a office of a guide in main market. It’s a good idea to hire a guide, it’ll enhance your experience. Book before hand -a day prior upon reaching ghangharia. Let me know if you need anymore information.

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    1. Sure, you must rule out those things before you embark on a trek. It’s not a tough trek. Quite easy except certain sections. Let’s connect on Facebook, will make it easy. 🙂

      Like

  4. Hi, thanks for the write up. Very useful. I am planning to go to VoF in late July. Just wanted to check given it will be monsoon time …would there be worms(especially earthworms) around. Sorry to be asking this question but i have a phobia of worms.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice Writeup.. visiting VOF with the wife over the end of this month and the first week of July.. I hope I am up to it.. Going with Blue Poppy and hopefully will have a good time.
    Will take you up on the hiking gear from Decathlon..
    Thanks Arv

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  6. Hi Arv . We are going to vof in August. I have bought one woodland water resistant low ankle trekking shoe. A pair of gaiters will work to avoid sipage of water? What about carrying an extra pair of shoes like a duckback jungle shoe. Please reciprocate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Daniel, Happy to know that you are interested in VOF trek. I have already written 2 post on VOF and there’s huge amount of information available on internet which is just a search away.

      In past, Indiamike was a great forum for solo trekkers and travelers where it was possible to bump into other travelers but now that’s not the case! thanks to the trekking operators!

      Technically, it’s quite easy. Let me know what information you require, will help you out with it.

      Like

  7. Hi
    Considering rains & water crossings I am thinking about buying a trekking floaters available at Decathlon instead of Waterproof or any other trekking shoes.
    Would that be a good idea? We are doing the VoF & Hemkund Sahib treks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karan, I also carried a floater sandal with me during vof trek. However I never used it. The opportunity never arose. Its not right to claim that you’ll encounter same situations. You can carry it as a back-up plan i.e. your shoes get drenched. Do ensure that you get used to them by using them for few days. Personally I feel that walking in sandal on an uphill trail is not comfortable unless you are used to it.

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  8. Thanks a lot,arvji,for such an honest & straight forward information with valuable points. Planning to visit VOF soon on our own(with a friend). Just a query,can we Booki for Swiss tents or for GNVM in advance online ? Kindly put light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Raju. Swiss tent were offered by two operators when I visited. One of them was Sarover based in Haridwar and other is GIO. I haven’t heard about any other operator till now. Earlier booking GMVN in advance was difficult due to poor connectivity. It is best to call and check with GMVN office in Haridwar or Rishikesh. Hope this helps.

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  9. Hi I am planning for VOF in July end or mid august 2018. After going through so many reviews and write up of yours . I am confused as I was planning this with my kids 10 n 7 . Need your suggestion whether to go with travel operator Blue Poppy holidays or go on our own and do bookings but wondering with kids how safe n secure it would be just to avoid any last minute rushes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Neetu, Valley of Flowers is quite doable on your own. While I have planned it out on my own and found no issues, many of my friends have used GIO adventure for their VOF trek. I haven’t heard any issues from either of them. So I assume you too can use their service. The advantage with this operator is that they have their own campsite in Ghangharia. If you need any further information let me know your email id, will share more details.

      Taking kids on a trek is a great idea and kids can surprise you with their stamina. 🙂

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  10. Hey,. We girls are planning to go VOF in June. We have no trekking experience. One of the girls has some legs pain. But she wants to go. Can she trek easily. What other things we should keep in mind. Like booking hotels offline or online. Or there are cheaper accomodation available.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anubha, the best thing for your friend is to visit a doctor. He is best person to recommend What is good for her. I don’t think you have much choice when it comes to booking online beyond Rishikesh. In general, the hotels on this route are basic and reasonably priced. Since this will be a Yatra season, plan well so that you have good choice of hotels. Rishikesh, Rudraprayag and Joshimath have better accommodation options. How are you traveling on this route?

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    2. Great place to go .. me and the wife went there last summer .. Ideal time to go would be last week of July or early August. Trekking to VOF is not very strenuous and can be done .. However, your friend with the knee pain may need a bit more time than the rest..
      Accomodation is not that great but manageable given the living conditions there…When you are there coax your friends to go to Hemkund – now that is a place to experience , the climb is steep and difficult but can be managed.. The thrilling feeling on top cannot be expressed.

      By the way Age is just a number since both me and my wife are in the 50 bracket …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for sharing this information. Yes, age is just a number. It’s good to know that you are 50+ but were able to complete it successfully! I have met an old lady on high altitude trek who was 90 and it was her 19th trek!

        I will recommend anyone with medical condition to refer to a doctor because in all such terrain there are no medical facilities or hospitals. Do not push yourself without getting yourself checked with the doctor. It can result in a serious situation.

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  11. Hi Arv,

    Very nice informative things in your post. Good for solo travellers like me who are planning for both VOF and HK duo trip. Actually I am planning for trip in mid of September only concern is it advisable to go for trip in September. I know best time is July and August when valley is in full glow. I can only manage my trip in mid of September. Can you please share more details in email probably I am planning solo trip with details where to stay and trek.

    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kishor, if you feel July and August won’t work for you at all, go ahead with September plan. Vof is not worth missing. You will find different species of flowers in comparison to July and August. Let me know your email id.

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  12. Quite a helpful blog, Arv! I’m planning VoF->HK-> Badrinath-> Mana->Vasundhara->Rishikesh from July 18 to July 28 this year. I am trekking with IndiaHikes and the plan is to see VoF on 20th July, do you think this is the best time to witness VoF in full bloom? Also, any tips for the itinerary above? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paresh, as such July 20th seems good. Reality is that no one can predict with surety. Every flower has a season. In all likelihood, you will get to see a beautiful vof. As for itinerary, it’s pretty much fixed since you are going with a group. Seems fine to me. I’m sure you will have a great trip. Let me know if you need any other information, Paresh.

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  13. Thanks Arv for the swift reply. Yes, I will be trekking with IndiaHikes but for VoF/HK only…the rest I plan to do it on my own. Do you have any idea or have visited Badrinath-> Mana->Vasundhara for trek lately? I am wondering if it’s a good idea to visit Mana before VoF (say, 15th?) or vice versa…thoughts?

    Any other suggestions for trek around VoF, other than the above, would be appreciated

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paresh, I have visited both Badrinath and Mana. Time was too short to visit Vasundhara falls, so skipped it. I will suggest you to visit Badrinath after the trek and use it as a rest day if you can stay at Badrinath. Else you can also stay at Joshimath. I will suggest you leave Ghangharia early morning so you can make it to Govindghat early and leave for Badrinath on the same day. Stay overnight at Badrinath and leave next day after doing Mana and Vasundhara falls. Let me know how this sounds.

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    1. Paresh, I don’t think you should have any problem in finding accommodation in Badrinath since yatra is suspended owing to monsoon. As a check, do call up a few budget guest houses/ dharamshala/hotels to know the situation beforehand.

      Do keep in mind that on this route owing to monsoon and landslides, you may have to reprogram your route. Have a great trip. If you need any further information, feel free to email me. 🙂

      Like

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