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 your own.

Valley of Flowers I…How did the journey start?

What is the Valley of Flowers and where is it located?

A sprawling expanse of 87 square kilometres 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 minimum 3 days are needed to reach Valley of Flowers from Haridwar. The last motorable point is Govindghat.

Valley of Flowers II…Reaching the chaotic madness of Haridwar and Rishikesh

The Valley of Flowers route 

Delhi-Haridwar/Rishikesh-Joshimath-Govindghat-Ghangaria-VOF-Ghangaria-Hemkund Sahib-Ghangaria-Joshimath/Govindghat-Rishikesh/Haridwar

Distances between

Haridwar-Joshimath = 250 kilometres approx

Joshimath-Govindghat = 20 kilometres approx

Govindghat-Ghangaria = 13 kilometres trek/one way approx

Ghangaria-Valley of Flowers = 3 kilometres approx

Ghangaria-Hemkund Sahib = 7 kilometres approx

Valley of Flowers III…Driving past the river prayags of Uttarakhand

The best time and timings of the Valley of Flowers

The Valley of Flowers national park remains open from 1st of June-4th of 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 1.30pm so as to reach back by 5.00 pm.

Valley of Flowers IV…Reaching Joshimath, the second overnight stop

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 minimum 10 hours to reach there. In 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.

Valley of Flowers V…The trek from Govindghat to Ghangaria

The options for overnight stops

The first overnight stop happens at Haridwar or Rishikesh. Then the next most prefered 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.

Valley of Flowers VI…And the Valley of Flowers was closed for that year

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.

Valley of Flowers VII…The trek to Hemkund Sahib from 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 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.

Filming Charges
Feature Film Per Day 100,000 200,000
Documentary Film Per Day 10,000 30,000
4. Security deposit 
Feature Film Per Day 100,000 200,000
Documentary Film Per Day 50,000 100,000

Details of the Valley of Flowers 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

More 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

Beautiful road trips

Beautiful road trips

Flower filled mountains

Flower-filled mountains

Play of sun and shade

Play of sun and shade

Magical confluences

Magical confluences

Misty rivers

Misty rivers

Childlike simple people

Childlike simple people

Green meadows

Green meadows

And flower filled fields

And flower filled fields

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

And Hemkund Sahib treks

And Hemkund Sahib treks

Are simply magical

Are simply magical

Flowers

Flowers

Bees

Bees

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

And strange

And strange

Beautiful sights

Beautiful sights

Make these treks

Make these treks

Experiences of a lifetime

Experiences of a lifetime

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE