How to plan Valley Of Flowers Trek /12 point guide

In continuation of my previous post – 5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek sometime back (read it here) I thought of answering another set of questions for wannabe visitors and trekkers to Valley of Flowers as well as Hemkund Sahib. In comparison, this post addresses a different set of questions. Here I go.

1. Best Month for Valley of Flowers Trek :

No one can say for sure, which is the best month as the blooming of flowers depends on the weather conditions even though Valley of flowers opens in June every year for visitors. Also, there is a certain time frame when each species of flower blooms. You may find certain flower species in July, which might not be present in the valley during August. Ideally July-August is the best time frame, going by how monsoon normally behaves & number of people visiting VOF.

inside-valley-of-flowers-bloom-in-august-curated-experiences-and-impressions
Bloom inside valley of flowers. Valley of Flowers Trek is a  lifetime experience.

2. Going solo or using Trek operator

People get perplexed whether to plan and visit on their own or to use services of a trek operator. It’s not an easy answer, however let me try to offer you some breather. Whether you should use trek operator or not  depends on your mindset, largely. If you are comfortable in planning and organizing things on your own, it’s not tough since this trek can be termed as “tea-house” trek. Tea house treks are popular in Nepal where lodges and food is easily available through out the trail; its a well marked trail. With tons of information available on internet, you can hunt for every information related to the trek. On the other hand, if you don’t want to get into hassles or don’t have time and resources to search around, trekking agencies make it all easy.  They take care of everything. If you’re wondering whether it’ll be cheaper to plan and organize on your own? Using similar level of services will not save you any significant amount of  money, if you are traveling alone. At the most, it’ll be marginal. However, with a group, you can save quite a bit in sum total. It’s a call between ease vs fun to do on your own! Take your pick.

Also read:

5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek

helicopter-service-to-hemkund-valley-of-flowers-gobindghat-curated-experiences-and-impressions
Helicopter taking off from Gobindghat to Ghangharia. It’s quite popular among the pilgrims heading to Hemkund Sahib. Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Trek

3. Trek/ Pony/ Helicopter?

As compared to many other treks, Valley Of Flowers  do offer you options between trekking, hiring pony or using helicopter for covering the 13 Km trail which runs between Govindghat to Ghangharia. However, from Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers you need to trek only -no other option! For hard core trek and fitness buffs, trekking is the biggest draw. For someone who has never ridden a pony before, uphill ride will be slight discomfort. Downhill ride offers even more discomfort! Helicopter ride on the other hand is comfortable, short and sweet. On flip side, It’s  pricey and it’s operation is dependent on weather. If the weather is bad, the helicopter service is not operational. My piece of advice would be to plan and prepare physically for the 13 km trek. It’s always easier when you plan for the eventuality!

ghangharia-tents-accomodation-valley-of-flowers-trek-curated-expereinces-and-impressions
Tents in Ghangharia set by various operators. Valley of Flowers and Hemkund trek

4. Accommodation

Accommodation in Ghangaria is tricky. Hotels/lodges in Ghangaria  offer claustrophobic rooms. There are Swiss tent camps too,  but you need to book ahead unless you want to test your luck!! These camps are located near helipad a kilometer prior to the main settlement of Ghangaria. In many ways, these camps are better than staying in Ghangaria as the views around are great; the food quality is consistent too. They will be expensive though and you should book them with all meals included as food is not available around these camps. Ghangharia market is located around a kilometer ahead through tricky and slippery ascend- not a good idea for making round trip for munching!! A good option is to stay at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam – GMVN, Ghangharia; getting a confirmed booking is an issue though. It is located in the market itself and the rooms are spacious. You can sit in the open area and enjoy great weather!

garhwal-mandal-vikas-nigam-gmvn-ghangharia-valley-of-flowers-hemkund-base-curated-experiences-and-impressions
View of GMVN Ghangharia hotel, overlooking rooms. Probably one of better accommodation option in Ghangharia. Enjoy the views and weather around!

Govindghat offers better choice than Ghangharia  when it comes to hotels/lodges. Some people prefer to stay at Auli/ Joshimath instead of Govindghat as it affords better facilities and choices. The downside is that you either need to get up early and cover half an hour drive to Govindghat on a trek day or start your trek late. Which is better? I will prefer to stay at Govindghat and cut on drive time in morning; saves lot of hassle!

 

Also read:

5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek

5. Best time to leave for Valley of Flowers from Ghangaria

VOF is located 4-5 km kilometers from Ghangharia. Ideally one should be able to reach the valley in an hour. However, in reality people tend to walk slowly exploring & photographing around. It’s best to leave for VOF asap in morning preferably around 6-6.30. You need to obtain entry ticket for VOF near entry gate of the park; its valid for multi day entry- 3 days to be precise. Some people claim that all entries to the park are tracked on return to ensure safety of the visitors. I cannot vouch for it’s authenticity, though.

6. Food inside Valley of  Flowers

There are no canteens/dhabas or any kind of food facility inside Valley of Flowers. You need to carry edible items with you. Get your lunch packed & carry with you or rely on pre-packed/packaged/ ready to eat stuff. Plan ahead and place order previous evening to save time next morning. Please don’t litter the pristine surroundings of valley by leaving or trashing left overs, wrappers, bottles and plastic. Bhyunder valley NGO – EDC is working hard in these trails to keep it clean. Let’s make their job easier  without littering and carrying all trash back to Ghangharia  or Govindghat for responsible disposal.

ngo-workers-edc-bhyundar-cleaning-trails-hemkund-valley-of-flowers-curated-experiences-and-impressions
NGO worker of EDC Bhyudar cleaning the Hemkund Sahib trail even during the rains. Do remember to carry the litter back with you to Gobindghat on Valley of Flowers trek

7. Should you hire guide for VOF?

It’ll be great if you can hire an expert guide from Ghangaria to show you around the valley -flora and life. It’ll enrich your experience. Without guide, you can only appreciate what you see. With guide you can interact and enrich your experience. If you find the fee charged by guide  stiff, you can try and pool in more people to spread the cost.  Ask around in your (and nearby) hotels. Every visitor in Ghangharia is for a reason, visiting either Valley Of Flowers or Hemkund Sahib.

 

Also read:

5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek

8. Backpack?

If you have never carried a 50-60 liter backpack weighting 7-8 kg ever, walking 13 Km uphill might be tough for you. We did a mistake of using a regular laptop bag and stuffing it to the brim on our first trek. In spite of being fit & trained for the trek, it was tiring. Realizing the mistake, I bought a hiking rucksack. These backpack/rucksack  are designed in a way that it doesn’t put pressure on your shoulders entirely rather it distributes the load evenly on your body. It made all the difference during my next trek. I will suggest first time trekker to carry a 10-20 liter day pack ,instead. Simply carry  the essentials with you in this day pack. The whole point of trekking is enjoying your trek & beautiful environs, let’s keep the focus on it. Hire a mule or porter to carry your luggage or rucksack if you’re trekking first time.

9. Backpack or regular duffle bags for VOF?

If you don’t intend to carry ruck sack and are not sure if you’ll  need it in future, you need not fret! Use duffle bag instead & hire a porter or mule to carry the same  from Gobindghat to Ghangharia. Do ensure that a rain cover protects your baggage. It’s best to avoid carrying suitcases for this trip. Duffle bags are best suited for ferrying via porter or mule.  Another safeguard would be to pack your belongings into plastic cover  before parking it inside the duffle bag. Double protection!

picture-of-hemkund-sahib-gurudwara-laxman-temple-lokpal-curated-experiences-and-impressions
View of Gurudwara at Hemkund Sahib along with Lokpal and Laxman temple on left

10. Hemkund Sahib… Should you visit?

A large number of trekkers also visit Hemkund Sahib along with Valley of Flowers on the  following day. This seems to have become standard itinerary with both travelers and trek operators. Lot of people are in fix whether it is worth going to Hemkund Sahib. It’s a difficult question to answer. Let’s be clear, Hemkund Sahib is actually a pilgrim site for Sikhs. For a trekker it’s a bonus. The trek from Ghangharia to Hemkund Sahib is 4 Km long and it’s a steep one! On a clear day you can enjoy great views of surrounding peaks and mountains. The views are amazing.  During monsoon season however, you are likely to encounter overcast sky and possibly rain! You also get chance to witness rare Brahamkamal flower, which blooms at height of around 4000 meters. You won’t be able to see this rare flower in Valley of Flower!! would you like to miss this?

If all this doesn’t sound attractive, you can consider  visiting Valley of Flower again or choose to descend to Govindghat. The idea is to enjoy your journey and not merely tick off the places on a list.

 

Also read:

5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek

11. Badrinath… Should you visit?

Like Hemkund Sahib, Badrinath is usually bundled with Valley Of Flower trip by many operators. If you’re traveling with operator, this question is irrelevant for you. If it’s not the case with you, you need to weight your interest level and time available. The 13 Km descend from Ghangharia to Govindghat can be completed in around 4-5 hours by a fit person. If you start early you can visit Badrinath shrine for darshan and head back to Joshimath for the night stay. The route from Govindghat to Badrinath has few landslide zones and it’s better to cover as much distance as you can in a day during  rainy season. I found Badrinath temple quite charming. It’s colorful and during monsoon season it takes no time to have darshan since char dham yatra has few takers.

 

12. Trekking pole on Valley of Flower Trek?

Like all other treks, trekking pole makes descend easier. You’re more likely to see the pilgrims carrying wooden sticks on this trail. These are available easily in Govindghat market. These are locally made with no standardization. In comparison, Hiking pole affords you better conveniences – height can be adjusted, loop to secure the pole, easier to store as it’s length can be collapsed. While local wooden sticks cost Rs 30 or so hiking poles costs upwards Rs 500 and you need to source them prior as these are not available locally. If you don’t intend to trek in future, it’s best to use local wooden sticks. In case you are trekking with a operator you can rent hiking poles through them.Most trek operators offer rental facility of hiking equipment. Currently, Rs 50/day is all you have to pay to hire hiking pole.

pilgrim-sardars-on-way-to-hemkund-sahib-valley-of-flowers-ghangharia-curated-experiences-and-impressions
Pilgrims on way to Hemkund Sahib near Ghangharia trekking with local wooden sticks. Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Trek

Before you embark for Valley of Flower trek, here is a piece of information that might come in handy. Ghangharia has electricity but no mobile network. However there are satellite phone booth from where you can make a call. Mobile network is available all through the route till Govindghat.

Valley of Flower has become immensely popular in recent years, thanks to the internet and social media. It’s one of the most sought after treks in India, even though it’s not a technical trek. Do visit Valley of Flowers once in your lifetime.

If you have questions, please free to write in the comment box along with your email so I can help you with it.

Check out previous post on Valley of Flowers Trek – 5 Important things to consider before undertaking Valley of Flowers Trek

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25 thoughts on “How to plan Valley Of Flowers Trek /12 point guide

  1. We made the arduous trek to Hemkunt Sahib in 1995, even went to Badrinath, which was much easier as there is a motor able road but didn’t visit the Valley Of Flowers due to the trip being soooo long and tiring. Also the religious-minded friend who was with us didn’t seem enthusiastic about the Valley Of Flowers. Driving from Delhi to Badrinath, with one night halt halfway was quite taxing for the nerves, with the narrow road starting from Joshimath but the enthusiasm keeps you going yet it ends after the first trek from Gobind ghat to Gobind dham! The hotels were not good and failed to provide even the basic comfort. So visiting all the places together is not advisable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I trust back then there used to be gate system allowing only one way traffic in some sections. I’m sure it would have been taxing journey. during my last visit things have changed dramatically; but some things are still the same. It’s actually surprising how old and elderly pilgrims coming from interior of Punjab make it all the way to hemkund sahib without footwear or equipments. it’s a eye opener that faith makes it all possible. yes the lodges are basic even today. It’s being said that ghangharia is buried under snow for many months making it a difficult place to offer better facilities. Of late there has been spike in interest in VOF and many trek agencies have sprung up. Thanks for reading and offering your views. appreciate it truly! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on WANDER THE HIMALAYAS and commented:
    Planning a Trek to Valley of Flowers this month? Take into consideration the carefully thought FAQs on this trek. We feature Arvind as our Guest Blogger who answers 12 most asked questions about Valley of Flowers Trek. Read more below.

    Permission to feature the Blog obtained from Arvind

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this list! My plan was to do the VOF trek this weekend but had was warned by family and friends to postpone it due to the rains and roads this year again. I really do hope to do it soon. Any suggestions which week would be best now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy that you liked the post. This post was created to help fellow travelers since I too faced these dilemmas. I think you should read part 1 of this post, which I feel you haven’t. Here is a link.

      https://capturesthrumylens.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/5-important-things-about-valley-of-flowers-trek-uttarakhand-india/

      Don’t postpone your trip. Rains and landslides are part and parcel of this trip. Unless something major happens which blocks the road for days, you should just go ahead. Landslides are cleared in no time, since every time it rains for few hours, landslides take place. There’s no escape. I also cancelled my trip for 2 consecutive years at last moment due to rains and landslides. Third time, I decided to go…in all eventuality. And I did complete it despite all small landslides. So my suggestion..Go ahead! Do remember when you travel on these roads preferably cover as much as you can in a day. All the best

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am visiting valley of flowers in second week of September. I want to know about the number of days one should spend for visiting VOF. Earlier i had considered one day for VOF and one day for Hemkund sahib, but confused now. You suggestion would be helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adarsh. Generally one day for VOF is sufficient. It works for most people. unless you are into flowers or weather is not favorable on the day you visit or you love spending time in that sort of environ second day is not needed.
      If your plan don’t require prior reservations for your return journey you can take this call on the spot. Else you can sacrifice Hemkund visit in favor of VOF. A third option would be to provision for 3 days into your plan. In case you feel you don’t need to visit VOF second day, you can utilize your day in Badrinath or Auli as another option.

      Like

    1. Do try to visit next year. it’s not a difficult trek anyways! I’m happy you liked the post and found it useful. if you feel this post helped you pls share it with your followers. The post has been made to cut through lots of confusion that usually flows in during VOF trek planning! Thank You Ashu 🙂

      Like

  5. This is very informative! Thanks a ton for such a detailed blog. I am planning to visit VOF this year (2017) and this post came as a blessing in disguise. I hail from Uttarakhand and not having seen this beautiful place in my own state makes me feel miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shilpi. I was inspired to create this post because I faced some difficulties in planning my VOF trip. I had planned this trip thrice before actually making it through. Please do visit this beautiful place. You intend to visit on your own or through some operator? Happy to know that you found this post, useful. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks. I had planned for vof quite a few times but it just didn’t materialise. But after waiting for five years, I finally did this trail. It was a self planned trip. I’m hoping you get to visit vof soon. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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