Each year, as the sun starts beating down a little more, the frigid Upper Himalayas become warmer. Winters bid goodbye and the snow melts and feeds rivers that race to the lower regions. Waterfalls are in full spate, lakes are filled to the brim with freshwater, and streams spew over their banks, fertilising acres of plains as they gush by.
Lower down in the Garhwal Himalayas, in the Nanda Devi National Park that sprawls around the base of the towering Nanda Devi mountain, there is a valley that turns into a paradise, filled with wildflowers, waterfalls, streams, and cool mist. Known as the Valley of Flowers, this region is home to one of the best trekking routes in India.
About the Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers is one of the top treks in Uttarakhand. It nestles between the towering peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand. Thanks to this sheltered location, the valley is usually dry and cold. It remains covered in snow for about six months of the year, from October to March. When the monsoon hits, the peaks prevent the rain clouds from moving too far, and the otherwise dry ground gets a thorough drenching. The mist hangs low over the slopes, and the air is filled with moisture.
From deep within the earth, wildflowers push their delicate heads through the mud and cover the valley in a carpet of riotous colour. During the monsoon months from June to September, the Valley of Flowers is filled with flowers, wild strawberries, perfumed wild roses, and the twisting vines of all kinds of shrubs.
Can I do the Valley of Flowers trek?
The Valley of Flowers trek is one of the easy treks in India. It is suitable for beginners and groups of friends. It’s also popular as a Himalayan trek for families. It’s a perfect trek for nature lovers, and attracts botanists from around the world. Most of the route is paved, albeit with uneven stones, so a good pair of shoes with ankle support will make it easier. As long as you don’t suffer from knee or back/spine problems, or any cardiac or respiratory conditions, you should be good to go.
About the trek
The trek usually starts from Govindghat, which is near the hubs of Joshimath and Auli. You’ll have to head to Ghangaria from here, and can do this on foot (about 11 kms), mule, or by helicopter. Ghangaria is a small settlement on the outskirts of the Valley of Flowers. Trekkers stay the night here as camping is banned in the valley, and set off early in the morning to explore the valley. For the next two days, you’ll be able to explore the park, visiting view points and hiking through the gorgeous wilderness for hours.
One of the popular points to visit is the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, a sacred pilgrimage spot for Sikh devotees, but an interesting spot for anyone. The gurudwara lies on the bank of a lake, and you’ll see pilgrims taking dips in the water, which often has a sheet of thin ice formed on the surface. Each night, you’ll return to Ghangaria. Some trekking itineraries combine the trek with a visit to the famous Badrinath Temple, or with a stop in Auli, which is famous for skiing during winter.
What is the best time to visit the Valley of Flowers?
The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is during the monsoon months, from July to early September. Read more about this season here. This is peak blooming season, and you’re likely to see many different types of flowers. For those who are interested, you’ll get to see everything from the more common daisy and marigold, to the more exotic orchid, blue poppy, and primula. The Brahma Kamal is a rare flower to find, but grows along the route to Hemkund Sahib during the later monsoon months.
Find out more about The Best Season for Valley of Flowers 2021.
What’s the weather like in the Valley of Flowers?
You can expect temperatures ranging from 17 degrees Celsius during the day, to 7-10 degrees Celsius during the night. If the sun comes out for a short while, you might feel a bit warm during the trek, so make sure you dress in layers, and have a hat, gloves, and scarf in your bag. There is always a chance of rain, so snap a rain cover over your backpack, and keep a poncho at hand. During the night, you’ll be in a hotel in Ghangaria, so it won’t be as cold, but you’ll need your sweater and maybe even thermals for the evenings.
Packing list for your Valley of Flowers trek
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please make sure you carry your mask and a bottle of sanitiser. July 2021 onwards, fully vaccinated air travellers need not carry a negative RT-PCR report, however, if you’re partially vaccinated, entirely unvaccinated, or not travelling by air, it is mandatory to carry a negative RT-PCR report taken within 72 hours of travelling to Uttarakhand.
Apart from these COVID essentials, here’s all that you will need for your Valley of Flowers trek:
BEFORE YOU GO:
– Before you pack your backpack, go over it carefully. Look for missing buckles, zips that are stuck or broken, or rips and tears that need mending.
– It’s very important that your shoes are broken in and comfortable. Make sure the soles are intact, the laces are strong, and the seams are in place.
– Get new batteries for your camera, flashlight, etc.
– Check that all your clothing has zips, buttons, velcro in place and functioning properly.
– Pack your clothing and gear in separate waterproof/plastic bags to keep everything dry.
– Pack your bag and weigh it. You shouldn’t have more than 7-10 kgs in your large backpack.
– Hoist your backpack onto your shoulders and check that the larger, heavier items are not shifting around inside the pack.
– If you have a medical kit that you carry for all your treks, go through it once to make sure all the essential items are still inside and have not crossed the expiry date.
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