10 things I wish I knew before going on ‘Valley of Flowers’ trek

While there’s a lot of information available online about this Himalayan trek, here’s some more I want to share. A few realistic tips I wish someone had told me:

  1. ‘Valley of flowers’ is not a beginner’s trek, as listed by various websites. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone climbing mountains for the first time. Here’s why – It’s a four-day trek, 3-6 hours a day, without a rest day in between, as offered by most companies and groups. If the motive is to just walk in the mountains while you’re still building up the stamina, ideally, one should start with day hikes or weekend treks.
    Also read : ‘Valley of flowers’ Trek – An account of six days
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  2. Be fit enough to carry a backpack all the way or hire a mule. I am not in favor of using animals to carry loads. So, I’d suggest to keep your bag light (head lighter), carrying only the essentials and practicing with it for a week before going on the trek. If you haven’t done that, pay for the mule instead of acting brave.
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  3. Once you’ve signed up for the trek, do basic exercises everyday if that’s not already a part of your routine. Being able to jog/brisk walk 4 kilometers in 30 minutes is recommended. Start slow, with a kilometer may be.
    Note: I didn’t take the advice and regretted later.
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  4. It’s not as colorful as they show in pictures. The speed at which some of the VOF posts have gone viral, I am sure everyone with a Facebook account has imagined themselves amidst the vibrant flowers, staring into oblivion or posing for the epic profile picture. False representation aside, the place is absolutely magnificent and the whole journey (not just the ultimate destination) is a unique experience.
    Reality check: Those viral pictures are morphed or taken from other parts of the world.
    Here are some real ones:

    As clicked in last week of July, 2015. Go in mid-August for full bloom.

     
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  5. Take it slow. The valley is spread over 80 kilometers. Since you aren’t allowed to stay overnight in the national park, it’s difficult to explore the entire region. When you go with a group, you climb from Ghangaria spending 2-3 hours, stay there for the same time and descend back, hardly covering 10 percent of the area. If you really want to walk around the valley and get familiarized, I’d suggest staying at Ghangaria for a week, making a few trips uphill, discovering new trails and soaking in the greens.
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  6. It’s better to camp than staying in a guest house. We were promised a campsite once we reach Ghangaria. But, at last-minute, they changed it to a dingy guest house saying the former would’ve been uncomfortable. I don’t think so. To sleep under a tent would’ve been far better than on wet sheets under dirty blankets in a stinking room.
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    Envious of the occupants inside

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  7. There’s no cellular network except BSNL/MTNL. You’ll be charged Rs. 10 per minute for an STD phone call at Ghangaria. Either you buy an applicable SIM card before going, or better disconnect for a while if you don’t want to pay ten times for a call. No bargaining happening there, a convenient way for them to earn extra money.
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  8. Take a rest day. I, along with my group members were of the opinion that a break was required between a day for ‘Valley of flowers’ and Hemkund sahib – not provided by most (or rather all) trek groups. If going on your own, take a day off. Walk around Ghangaria itself, chill in the sun, write or catch up on sleep.
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    Co-travelers en-route Hemkund Sahib

    Sun saying hello from between the leaves – at Ghangaria
  9. If you don’t own a walking stick, your trek organizer may trick into selling you one, for up to INR 1500. You may need it but you don’t have to shell out the asked amount of money. Here’s what to do – When you start hiking from Govindghat, there’s a Gurudwara that lends bamboo sticks. Just borrow one, and return on your way back.
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  10. It can be done on your own, depending on your familiarity with Himalayan treks. The path is clearly laid out. You’ll find many people going up and down the hill until 6 PM at least. The chances of getting lost or being eaten by a bear are nil, unless, you try to be extremely adventurous. Blame it on luck in that case.
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    Spot the humans!

I booked the trek with Thrillophilia and my trek provider was ‘Trip N Thrill’. They weren’t terrible but not far from it either.
Have a point to add? Something you think should be known to people planning the trek. Let me know in comments below.

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© 2016, Swati. All rights reserved.

44 comments

  1. How much did it cost u the overall trip ?
    Is it supposed to be pre booked somewhere..or what is it like ?
    A trek guide is must !?

    We have to come back to the same place where we start from evry day ! So how do we cover the whole valley ?
    I have so many questions..cuz the next vacation i m going to do it. So your inputs can b a great help. Thanks in advance 🙂 keep traveling n sharing.

    1. Overall it costed around 11-12k. As written in the post, I had booked it through Thrillophilia. Not a must, though. Covering the whole valley isn’t easy. All those questions were already answered in the post, except cost.

  2. I did this trek more than 20 years ago with a Sikh religious Jatha (Group) which was going to Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, the Valley of Flower was not included in its itinerary but i somehow managed do it with some of my friends. I again went for this trek in 1998 along with 4 of my trekking friends & enjoyed it a lot. I would say that rather than going with any Trekking / Adventure company we should do this Trek on our own. Things would have improved a lot more since i last went there so many years ago.

  3. Hello Swati, I found your article to be very read-worthy and user friendly. I am an avid trekker (and reader of trekking stories)- but I have hardly I noticed such informative post – crisp, to the point and devoid of romanticised english. Keep it up. I will start following you from here 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing such heart-to-heart thoughts. They’re very helpful and will save money of a few readers.

  5. Swati, great advice, very valuable. I will add two things:
    1. Even with spare days as I had, it is difficult to reach the end of the valley and see the base of mount Rataban. The time in, not before 0700, and time out by 1700, put brackets on any excursion.
    2. In the mountains the clouds descend by about 1030 or so,make it to Hemkund before that. Unless you are supremely fit, that is possible only by mule

    Please see my blog on Vof at http://xerxespa.blogspot.in/2015_08_01_archive.html

    And my pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/129459215@N08/albums/72157657142242599
    And
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/129459215@N08/albums/72157657562803801

  6. That’s a great insight, one question I have in my mind that is it possible to go without a trekking group and provider?

  7. Im disappointed because Thrillophillia claims to be an ecotourist website. However, they offer elephant trekking, animals circuses, and other programs that seriously abuse animals and damage the environment. Thrillophillia needs to more socially responsible and do better research with their vendors. The company lacks a moral compass.

  8. Thanks for the myth buster and very practical tips. It’s better to plan a trip based on the real picture of a place than dream about it and be disappointed later. However, the trekking route looks beautiful from your photos.

    1. Thanks 🙂
      Yeah, the path is spectacular. They have opened a new route for the valley this year which is supposed to be less crowded and even more beautiful, in case you’re planning to go.

  9. Hai swathi thanks for your inputs, I want to know can get any tent accommodation in Gangharia, if so at what price and how about the hotels/ guest house over there can guide me about staying at gangharia

    1. Hey Srinivas. Thanks for stopping by. You have to carry your own camping gear including the tents from Joshimath. There are several basic guest houses that provide rooms/beds from INR 500 per day. In my opinion, camping is a better option. Let me know if you need more detail 🙂

  10. Thank u 😊 I was planning to do this trek this year but after reading this I’m sure I’m not fit for it. Also I would love to do it at my pace not run from one place to the other. Do u know any groups of solo travelers?

  11. Really very nice article. To the point and very informative as well. Swati, Can you tell about the road conditions when we are going from Haridwar/ Rishikesh to Joshimath. (Or the itinerary you followed).
    Are the weather conditions favorable?

  12. Hello everybody I am going to VALLEY OF FLOWERS trek from 6th Aug along with 2 friends, if anyone wants to join us most welcome, not going through any organizers planned on our own hopefully weather will co-operate with us, I am eagerly waiting for the day, I am from Hyderabad.

  13. Loved reading all your posts, I could relate each part of the blog without even knowing the details of the characters and places, truly a very nice destination and a very good narration of the post. It has totally set me off on my own memories.

  14. Nice info..
    I am traveling solo to Uttarakhand in June 2017.
    Please suggest other places near Valley of Flowers to explore wildlife.

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