Our Valley of Flowers trip was not successful if you consider the disappointment of the park being closed after such an arduous journey. However, it was a breathtaking experience and definitely taught me a few travel lessons the hard way. A lot of Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib (with/without Badrinath) package tours are available online and while some might offer good deals, most have very bad customer reviews. Blue Poppy Holidays is one such disreputable company offering Valley of Flowers tours. Usually, I do not leave bad reviews of any service provider, especially on my blog, but the unprofessional and dangerous practices followed by this company left me with no choice. I used them to visit the Valley of Flowers and neither did the owner/accompanying guide inform me about the park closure nor did he have any safety equipment, including a first aid kit with him. Trekking is not a walk in the park and in monsoon, it is not advisable to foolishly venture into remote Himalayan areas without proper precaution. This was more applicable at the time of my visit in 2014 when the whole region was still strewn with remnants of the devastating 2013 floods which claimed hundreds of lives. Having said this, my own experience told me that this trip can be easily done on your own which is why I have compiled this detailed Valley of Flowers travel guide. I hope this helps a lot of aspiring visitors to the valley to go there safely and on their own.
Table of Contents
Where is the Valley of Flowers located?
A sprawling expanse of 87 square kilometers in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, the Valley of Flowers is set in the backdrop of the majestic Zanskar Ranges. It is the core zone of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and is located at an altitude of 3658 m above sea level. The remote Bhyundar Valley is the home to this surreal place. Historically, the beauty of the place was unknown to the world until in 1931, three British mountaineers came here. They lost their way and happened to discover this alluring valley and named it Valley of Flowers. It is a very remote location and a minimum of 3 days are needed to reach the Valley of Flowers from Haridwar. The last motorable point is Govindghat.
The Valley of Flowers route
Haridwar-Joshimath = 250 kilometers approx
Joshimath-Govindghat = 20 kilometers approx
Govindghat-Ghangaria = 13 kilometers trek/one way approx
Ghangaria-Valley of Flowers = 3 kilometers approx
Ghangaria-Hemkund Sahib = 7 kilometers approx
The best time to visit
The Valley of Flowers national park remains open from the 1st of June-4th to October and the best time to visit it is in August. The Valley of Flowers opens at 7.00 am every day and last entry is allowed till 2.00 pm. You need to get out of the valley by 5 pm. You should be at the entry gate at 6.45 so as to take your entry ticket sooner and enter by 7.00 am. You should start back by 1.30 pm so as to reach back by 5.00 pm.
How many days are required for this trek?
One week is enough to complete this trek at an easy pace and if you can rush through, Badrinath and/or Auli can be added to the itinerary too.
How to reach the Valley of Flowers
Haridwar is easily reachable from Delhi by bus, taxi and train (although train gets full pretty fast and needs to be booked beforehand). The nearest airport is at Dehradun and from there, taxis or buses can be availed to reach Haridwar. Buses for Uttarakhand leave from ISBT bus stand in Delhi and it takes around 6 hours to reach Haridwar by road. Rishikesh is 25 kilometres away from Haridwar, easily accessible by an auto-rickshaw, and is a much nicer place to base for the trek. Shared and private taxis and public buses are available for Joshimath and it takes a minimum of 10 hours to reach there. In the case of landslides, this journey gets extended by hours. Motion sickness pills are advisable for those suffering from vertigo because the route is both circuitous and high.
The options for overnight stops
The first overnight stop happens at Haridwar or Rishikesh. Then the next most preferred option is Joshimath. Although Govindghat is closer to the actual trekking point, Joshimath offers better accommodation, dining options as well as ATMs, medicine shops, internet cafes and phone connectivity. Tourists are not permitted to stay inside the Valley of Flowers national park and accommodation facilities are available only in Ghangaria. Ghangaria hotels are extremely basic and the best option apart from the luxurious Sarovar Portico Camps is the GMVN bungalow. Prior booking is advised since VOF is a very popular trekking destination. Those on an extreme budget can stay at the gurudwaras at both Govindghat and Ghangaria.
What to pack for the Valley of Flowers trek
Ghangaria gets cold at night and the temperature at Hemkund Sahib is freezing. Warm woollens, raincoats, waterproof backpack/backpack covers, hiking boots and sticks are recommended for both the treks-Govindghat-Ghangaria and Ghangaria-Hemkund Sahib. While woollen caps are recommended for chilly evenings, gloves are not required. Sunscreens are required as the mountain sun is pretty harsh but snow goggles are not required at all, even at Hemkund. Candy bars, granola sticks, nuts and water need to carried on self during both the treks as they are extremely arduous and dehydrating. Torches are required if venturing out at night in and around Ghangaria.
Other Valley of Flowers FAQs
Is it an easy or difficult trek? Can it be done with children and the elderly? How about travellers with restricted mobility?
- The Valley of Flowers is an easy to moderate trek. It can be done with children and the elderly. There are ponies, palanquins, helicopters, and porters available to help them travel. However, it is not a restricted mobility-friendly trip. Ponies and porters are available at Govindghat and it is possible to send your bags by either if you want to trek up. Similar facilities are available for Hemkund trek too, although hiring a pony for going up makes sense.
Are permits required to visit the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib?
- No permits are required for visiting both the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. The entry tickets to the park are mandatory and I have given the cost below.
The Valley of Flowers sights and sounds
Apart from the beautiful national park, there are many scenic spots on the way to Joshimath. The Rudraprayag, Devprayag, Vishnuprayag and glimpses of the Nanda Devi National Park are worth stopping for. Flowers can be seen everywhere during the whole trip and from blue poppies, cobra lilies, brahmakamal, primula, anemones, and many different trees are found there.
Valley of Flowers Entrance Fee
Entry fee for Valley of Flowers is Rs. 150 for Indian Nationals and Rs. 600 for foreigners. This entry ticket is valid for 3 days for an extra day Indians need to pay Rs. 50 whereas foreigners need to pay Rs. 250. To take a professional video camera inside the valley Indians need to pay Rs. 500 and for foreigners, it is Rs. 1500 for a day. The still cameras are allowed free of cost. Filming charges inside the Valley of Flowers are given below.
|Feature Film Per Day||100,000||200,000|
|Documentary Film Per Day||10,000||30,000|
|Feature Film Per Day||100,000||200,000|
|Documentary Film Per Day||50,000||100,000|
Details of the VOF trek cost (in Indian Rupees)
This cost was incurred by me in 2014. The entire trip approximately costs around 15-20,000 INR (250-300 USD approx) if done on a moderate budget, but for those willing to splurge, helicopter charters (3,500 INR/58 USD one way) and Sarovar Portico Camps are much easier options.
Here’s a list of travel expenses incurred during my 2014 VOF and Hemkund Sahib trip
Semi-deluxe air-conditioned bus from Delhi-Haridwar = 550 INR
Dinner at Rishikesh = 135 INR
Pony for lugging bags from Govindghat-Ghangaria = 175 INR/person and it was shared by 4 people
Lunch en route Ghangaria = 120 INR
Pony to Hemkund Sahib = 450 INR/person/one way
EDC (eco-development corporation tax) = 50 INR
Breakfast at Govindghat and Ghangaria = 50 INR
Hotel at Joshimath = 2000 INR
Hotel at Ghangaria = 3,500 INR
Foot massage at Ghangaria = 100 INR/30 minutes
Laundry at Govindghat = 400/6 pieces
Hotel at Rishikesh (air-conditioned double room) = 1200 INR
Taxi from Rishikesh-Delhi = 3,500 INR
The Valley of Flowers precaution to be kept in mind
Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib are high altitude treks and chances of acute mountain sickness are pretty common. Prescribed medicines are advised for people prone to lung, heart, and respiratory illnesses.
A bit of responsible travelling, please
Last but not the least, here are some tips to maintain and preserve the beauty of these destinations and the Himalayas
- Do not walk on unmarked trails, pluck or trample on flowers.
- Take back whatever rubbish you have made. Please do not litter the Himalayas.
- Try to support the local businesses.
- Say no to plastic and child labour
For more information and travel tips check out How to plan the Valley of Flowers trek and Five points to remember before doing the Valley of Flowers trek
Follow the rest of the Uttarakhand series
- INTRODUCING RISHIKESH AND HARIDWAR
- NIRVANA OF RISHIKESH
- HARIDWAR AND CHAOS
- VALLEY OF FLOWERS PHOTO ESSAY
- JOURNEY TO THE VALLEY OF FLOWERS
- KAVARIYA MANIA IN HARIDWAR
- THE BEAUTIFUL UTTARAKHAND PRAYAGS
- JOSHIMATH MOMENTS BEFORE THE TREK
- REACHING GHANGARIA AT LAST
- WHEN VALLEY OF FLOWERS WAS CLOSED
- HIGHER UP TO HEMKUND SAHIB
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE