One of my favorite trips of 2018 has to be the solo trek to Valley of Flowers. And you know what the best part is? I did the entire Valley of Flowers trek of 7-8 days including Hemkund, Badrinath, and Mana in just 2500 INR! Yes, you heard me right!
And you can do it too. It is actually quite simple and anyone can complete this trek in 2500 INR or less too. To learn how to do that, read my Valley of Flowers itinerary.
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About Valley of Flowers
Valley of Flowers National Park is one of the most popular hill stations in Uttarakhand, situated at an altitude of approximately 3,500 meters. This national park has been tagged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 due to the abundance of a variety of flora.
This valley is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant and alluring places located in the West Himalaya. It is particularly famous for its alpine trees and a wide range of endemic flowers which add a magical feel to this valley. You are also likely to come across some magnificent and endangered animals like snow leopard, Asiatic black bear, brown bear, and so on.
The entire landscape is tranquil and you would come across a lot of beautiful views and waterfalls on the way. So, if you love mountain landscapes and natural views then you definitely should visit Valley of Flowers, at least once.
Best Time to Visit Valley of Flowers
Ideally, the monsoon is the best time to start the Valley of Flowers trek. But below, I will give you a proper breakdown of what you can expect during different seasons here.
Please note that the valley officially opens on 1st June and closes in the first week of October so, plan your trip carefully.
Monsoon Season (July – September)
As mentioned before, if you want to actually see the valley filled with a wide variety of flora then monsoon is the best time. For people who want to see the colorful blooming valley, mid-July to mid-August will actually be advisable. This is because after this time period, the flowers start waning and you don’t see as many flower varieties anymore.
Winter Season (October – February)
During the winter months, the valley is covered with a blanket of snow which makes it difficult to trek to this place. Also, the valley is closed for tourists this time and Ghangaria village is almost deserted too. So, if you want to come here during winters then you have to approach the officials and take special permission and a guide to trek here.
The chances of this happening are almost zero so, it would be better if you plan for the time when the valley is actually open.
Although if you do somehow get permission to visit, it would be pointless to come because this valley is more popular for its flora variety. So, if you are interested in experiencing snow then you can check out other places like Auli, Kedarkantha, Roopkund, etc.
Summer Season (March – June)
The valley stays covered with snow till the start of June so it would remain shut till 1st June. In June, the snow starts melting and the path becomes clear for the trekkers to visit this place. However, you won’t see any flowers during this time.
How to Reach Valley of Flowers
It is not difficult to reach the Valley of Flowers if you know the exact path to follow. For people who don’t live in Uttarakhand, your entire journey will be divided into three parts: Reaching Govindghat, Govindghat to Ghangharia, and Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers.
You will first need to reach Govindghat, from where the Valley of Flowers is just 16 – 17 km away. For this, you will first need to reach Rishikesh if you aren’t from Uttarakhand. People who stay in Uttarakhand or who are arriving from the Kathgodam side, your focus should be to reach Karnaprayag and then Govindghat.
There are two ways to reach Govindghat from Rishikesh by public transport:
From Rishikesh, you will get a direct bus to Badrinath which stops at Govindghat on the way and costs 450 INR. There are 4-5 buses in the entire day which leave between 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. and take around 10-11 hours to reach.
If you don’t get a direct bus, there is no need to worry. You can simply take a bus to Chamoli Gopeshwar or Karnaprayag and then take a shared jeep from there. These buses will cost you about 300 INR and again take 8-9 hours to reach.
You will also find a few shared jeeps directly going to Joshimath but the chances of finding these are fewer. Instead, once you reach Chamoli/Karnaprayag by bus or shared jeep, you can take a shared jeep from here to Joshimath for 100 INR. It would take you around 1.5 hours to reach.
From Joshimath, you will find several shared jeeps going to Govindghat which will cost you about 50 INR and take 1 hour to reach. If you are lucky, then you might also catch the Badrinath bus on the way and can reach Govindghat in 25 INR.
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This is certainly one of my most favorite trips till now, not because I traveled to a place which has been in my bucket list for a while. But because I did it solo and still I didn't really feel like I was alone here. I met so many amazing people on the way, other solo travelers too. And after spending 4-5 days with them, it never even felt like it was a solo trip. So, to everyone who has Valley of Flowers or Hemkund Sahib in their list, I urge you to go now. With or without friends because trust me, this is one of the few places where you would ever feel lonely. 🙂
Once you have reached Govindghat, you can take a shared jeep to the Pulna village which around 4 km away. From here, you will need to trek or take a mule to cover the 10 km distance to Ghangaria village.
If you are trekking, it is likely to take you 5-6 hours to reach the top if you trek slowly and steadily. On the other hand, you will spend easily 8 hours on the road if you stop often to click photographs and eat/drink on the way.
That doesn’t mean you will take that much time, you can easily do this trek in 3 hours as well if you are fit and don’t take a lot of breaks.
Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers
Once you have reached Ghangaria, the Valley of Flowers check post is just 600-700 m away. From here, you will purchase your entrance ticket which will be valid for 3 days and costs 150 INR. Then, after trekking for another 3.5 km, you will enter the Valley of Flowers.
The Valley of Flowers National park is 8 km long so, you can explore as long as you want.
Valley of Flowers Timings
Officially, the Valley of Flowers is open at 7 a.m. in the morning every day but you can still reach a little early and buy the ticket. The last entry to the Valley is at 2 p.m., after which the police doesn’t allow anyone to go inside. Here, you need to write down your entry timing as well. This way the officials know who all have entered on a particular day.
Start back for Ghangaria at 3 – 4 p.m. to make it to the Valley of Flowers Gate by 5 p.m. You will also need to write down the check-out time when leaving the premises so that the officials know you have safely returned from the national park.
Valley of Flowers Trek Route
Entrance Fee: 150 INR
Total Trekking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Trek Distance: 8-10 km
Trek Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate
While the trek to the Valley of Flowers isn’t particularly difficult, it can be a little tiring for people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activity. Personally, I don’t go to a gym or do a lot of physical activity every day but I found the trek doable and took 3 hours for the ascent and only 1.5 hours for the descent.
Here is a detailed route of the trek to give you an idea of how it is.
Once you leave the Ghangaria village, you will need to climb a few steps and reach the trek junction. From this point, if you walk on straight then you would reach Hemkund Sahib. To reach the Valley of Flowers, you will need to take a left from this junction. You will also see written on the rocks “Phoolon ki Ghaati” which translates to the Valley of Flowers in English.
After reaching this junction, you need to walk about 400 m on a straight stone path before you reach the Valley of Flowers gate. It will take you about 15-20 minutes to cover the distance till now from Ghangharia village. Once you have your ticket, you can move along to reach the Valley entrance.
You will see a well-laid out trail leading you on and then after another 10 minutes, you come across a small waterfall. There is a small crossing to reach the adjacent mountain and then you have to climb a little. After another 5 minutes, you will see a path of stones which leads to another bridge and a stream flowing beneath it. This is a bigger bridge and you can actually see the valley from this spot.
Once you cross the bridge, you will finally come to the hard part of the trek. From here, the distance of the Valley is 2 km which will easily take you another 1.5 hours to complete. For the next 1 km, you will be gradually climbing up and moving ahead through the mountains. You will also start noticing a few flowers and colorful shrubs on the way.
After almost 1-1.5 km, you will come across a glacier waterfall which is prominently marked. This spot is located another 700 – 800m from the valley entrance. Now, the path is narrow and rocky and you have to be really careful while making your way here. You will then come across a steep descent in the form of steps and you are almost to the entrance now.
After crossing another small, rickety bridge which goes over the waterfall and voila! You have now entered the Valley of Flowers enclosure. Now, inside the valley, there is only one straight path to explore which you must take. After 1-2 km, you will come across a signboard which will show you paths in two directions. The straight path will take you to the Tipra glacier while the right turn will take you to the Legge’s grave.
Things to Do in Valley of Flowers
Personally, I would recommend you to visit Valley of Flowers for two days to get the proper feel of the area. However, if you aren’t interested in trekking twice to this place, then here are a list of things that you should definitely try to do here.
Relax in the Valley of Flowers
This one is kinda obvious but if you come to this place and don’t relax to take in the environment, then your trip has been a total waste. Once you reach the entrance, you will start observing a variety of flowers in different colors. So take your time and just sit at one of the rocks to relax and appreciate your surroundings.
I absolutely loved sitting here to just listen to the sounds of the waterfalls and the birds around me. Trust me, it was damn peaceful and I really wish I could stay there longer.
Click Photographs of the Flowers and the Landscapes
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We keep this love in a photograph We made these memories for ourselves Where our eyes are never closing Hearts are never broken And time's forever frozen still So you can keep me Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans Holding me closer 'til our eyes meet You won't ever be alone, wait for me to come home – Photograph, Ed Sheeran #NomadsofIndiaClicks
Of course, if you go to the Valley of Flowers and not click photographs then what is even the point of going. Okay, I am kidding, that is not true. Yes, if you would rather enjoy the present and not click photographs then do that.
But if you are a photographer or a nature freak then this is the perfect place to snap loads of pictures. Trust me, you will capture lots of amazing perspectives and shots which you are going to cherish for the rest of your life.
Explore the Valley Trek to the Legge’s Grave
Another popular thing that you can do on your Valley of Flowers trek is to visit Joan Legge’s grave. Joan was a British botanist who died while researching the flora in the valley. While collecting the samples, she slipped off a slippery rock and lost her life.
While the grave is nothing special, it is truly humbling and a reminder that we should be careful when exploring the mountains.
Trek to the Tipra Glacier Point
Finally, a place I wished I could have visited but didn’t know about it the Tipra Glacier Point. This point is located about 3 km from the entrance of the valley. You would need to walk around 2 hours from the entrance to reach this spot but it is completely worth the effort.
You will see the glacier from where the river Pushpawati flows. I have been told that this is truly a magical sight so try to visit this point if you can.
Where to Stay in Valley of Flowers
Well, there is no provision to stay in Valley of Flowers and camping isn’t allowed here too. So, you will need to find a stay option in Ghangharia itself. Thankfully, Ghangharia has several accommodation options since this has become such a popular trek now along with the Hemkund Sahib Yatra.
Guesthouses and Hotels
There are many decent hotels and guesthouses here which offer you a room for anywhere between 300 – 1000 INR. So, you can choose one once you reach the village. The rooms are simple and the bathroom has the facility of hot water if you are interested in taking a bath.
Camps and Tents
Another great way to experience this trek is by staying in a tent on the outskirts of the Ghangaria village. A tent stay will cost you anywhere between 500 – 3000 INR and will be more peaceful and serene. Since the camps are away from the village and mostly near the helipad area, you also have an amazing view to wake up in the morning.
In case, you don’t want to spend money on camps, then you can get your own tent and camping equipment as well. For pitching your tent, you will need to ask the nearby restaurant or camp owner. Usually, they will charge you 200 INR for the tent but you can come to an arrangement by ordering the breakfast and dinner from them.
Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara in Ghangaria
Finally, you can also stay in the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara in Ghangaria free of cost. This is honestly the best way to experience this trek as you meet so many other solo travelers here. Plus, the food is delicious at the langar which is again free for you. So, you end up saving a lot on your trip.
They offer private rooms to the females and families. And for the rest of the people, there are dormitories to sleep in. Also, you need to check in every day and check out the next morning before you leave for the trek. Once you come back from the trek, you are allotted a new room where you can sleep for the night.
Where to Eat in Valley of Flowers
Once you leave for the Valley of Flowers trek, you won’t find any food or drink stalls on the way. Yes, that’s right! This trek is relatively isolated than Ghangaria or Hemkund Sahib trek so, you won’t find any option to purchase food and drinks. So, don’t forget to pack your lunch when leaving for this trek.
You can get your lunch packed at any food shop in Ghangaria or you can take some energy bars and snacks for the journey too. You can get a decent lunch packed for 100-150 INR from the shops here. But if you are one of those people who feel hungry often then it would be better to take proper provisions with you.
You don’t have to worry about buying water here because you will encounter many waterfalls on your way. So, just get your bottle and fill the water from one of these waterfall streams.
ATM and Network Availability in Valley of Flowers
ATMS in and Around Valley of Flowers
One of the most important things to remember about this trek is that once you reach Ghangaria, you won’t find any ATM to withdraw cash. Also, places don’t accept credit cards here so, it would be wise to withdraw cash before reaching Ghangaria.
Network Availability Around Valley of Flowers
Also, there is no Network available for Airtel, Jio, Vodafone, etc. users. If you have a BSNL sim, then you might get a signal near the start of the Ghangaria village to make a call. But I wouldn’t bet on it. So, keep in mind that once you reach Ghangaria, there are fewer chances of you being able to contact home. Keep your family and friends informed about this so they don’t worry.
If you still want to contact home, then there are a few STD shops available here which charge 10 INR for a 1-minute call. However, a lot of times it is difficult to get signal at these STD shops as well.
Important Tips to Remember for Valley of Flowers Trek
Make sure that you follow the below tips when you start planning for your Valley of Flowers trek.
Carry Extra Pair of Clothes With You
Yes, keep a few pairs of extra clothes in case you get wet in the waterfall or the rain. You can keep 3-4 pajamas and cotton shirts for the trek. Also, keep an extra pair of socks to protect your feet from cold. If you can, then get a pair of waterproof shirt and pajama as well which you can wear while trekking on top of your normal clothes.
This will help you stay dry and protected from the cold here.
Carry Your Own Lunch or Snacks When Going for the Valley of Flowers Trek
As I said before, you won’t find any food stalls while trekking from Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers. So, get your lunch packed or keep some snacks and energy bars for your lunch.
Keep Yourself Properly Hydrated While Trekking
It is extremely important to keep yourself appropriately hydrated if you don’t want to faint in the middle of the trek. Keep a water bottle and fill it with fresh waterfall water whenever you come across one on the Valley of Flowers trek.
Get a Raincoat or a Wind Cheater to Avoid Getting Drenched in the Rain
Since the Valley of Flowers trek is done during monsoon, it would be advisable to carry a raincoat or a windcheater with you too. If you don’t own both, then I would recommend you to borrow or purchase a windcheater instead of a raincoat.
A raincoat is good at keeping the rain at bay but will cause you trouble while trekking in the mountains. So, stick with a windcheater instead.
Keep Essential Medicines and a First Aid Kit
Another crucial tip for trekking in the Valley of Flowers is to keep your First Aid Kit with you at all times. Make sure that you keep necessary medicines for cold, fever, vomiting, high altitude sickness, etc. in this. Also, don’t forget to get band-aids, crepe rolled bandages, gauze dressings, antiseptic cream, etc.
You will obviously not find a clinic or a dispensary on the Valley of Flowers trek so, better be prepared for everything.
Avoid Going Alone for the Valley of Flowers Trek
Now, while I did this trek solo, I didn’t actually venture alone into the valley. I met another solo traveler in Ghangaria and both us decided to trek here together. So, find someone in the village if you came solo to Ghangaria or wait for one of the trekking groups to start for the Valley of Flowers trek.
Trust me, you will find at least 2-3 trekking groups going here every day so there is nothing to worry about really.
Start Early in the Morning for the Valley of Flowers Trek
The earlier you start for the Valley of Flowers trek, the better for you. Because this way, you can cover more area of the valley and would find it relatively quiet and empty. Most of the people start for this trek at 7 a.m.
So, if you start at least an hour early, you should be all set for an enjoyable time here.
Be Careful While Trekking
Another important tip is to be extremely careful while trekking to this valley. There are a lot of steep and narrow paths on the way where you could hurt yourself. So, don’t hurry and trek slowly and carefully to the entrance of the valley.
Avoid Standing Too Close to the Edges or Taking Selfies
Yes, this is one of extreme importance. Please don’t be a hero/heroine and stand too close to the edge to take selfies. You can always take a selfie from a safe distance, there is no need to put your life at a risk.
Things to Carry With You on the Valley of Flowers Trek
You need a good rucksack for your Valley of Flowers Trek as you will be carrying items for a 4-5 day trek. Make sure it is durable and comfortable and a rain cover as well. Personally, I suggest:
Once you reach Ghangaria, you will need a small day pack for the day treks to Hemkund and Valley of Flowers.
It can become very cold in the evening and night, so make sure you carry warm clothing. Also, carry multiple pair of clothes as you might get drenched in the rainfall.
Make sure you get synthetic gloves so that they won’t get wet in the rainfall and will keep your hands warm and comfy.
Carry a pair of merino wool socks to stay warm. And, make sure you use two of them to layer your feet during the night time when the temperature drops significantly.
Good Hiking Shoes
Take a good pair of hiking shoes which will protect you from cold and are comfortable at the same time. Make sure they are high ankle shoes and are waterproof as well.
There will be a couple of waterfalls on the way where you can fill your bottle. Mostly, the water is fresh and clean but if you aren’t sure, you can purchase a Steri Pen or a Purifying bottle.
You definitely need a raincoat/poncho when going for the Valley of Flowers trek as it rains frequently in the June – October period.
- Tissue Papers
- Moisturiser/Lip Balm
If you are planning to camp yourself, then do carry your camping equipment. Here are a few essential items that you will need
Choose a sturdy and durable tent to protect you from cold and wind during the night.
Buy a good, durable sleeping bag which will keep you warm throughout the night.
You would also need a sleeping mattress for your tent for proper padding and insulation purposes.
Tent Rain Cover
Finally, do make sure that you carry a rain cover for your tent if you won’t want to end up cold and shivering the morning.
Valley of Flowers trek is actually quite easy and is perfect beginners as well. And trust me, you’ll never regret visiting this place! So, convince your friends for the trek but if they refuse, pack your bag anyway and enjoy a memorable journey in the Himalayas.