Planning Valley of Flowers trek-A detailed guide
Trekking Valley of flowers would be an easy task if you have prepared for it well. Here is a useful guide to planning Valley of Flowers trek.
Breakup of the journey in details
Reach Haridwar or Rishikesh
You can reach the city at night and check-into a hotel for an early checkout. Since the next day journey would be extremely tiring, good rest in important for day zero.
Alternatively, if you have more time in hand, you can spend one whole day in Rishikesh or Haridwar and then leave the next morning. Try booking a hotel near the bus stand since buses for Kedarnath/Joshimath start as early as 4 am and start filling up quickly. The last bus leaves at 5 am and you don’t want to miss it.
- Board the bus leaving for Joshimath/Kedarnath at 4:30 am
- The long bus ride from Rishikesh to Joshimath is tedious and not so smooth. Its a twelve hour bumpy ride through the most dangerous hillscapes but breath taking views. On the way you would witness two river confluences – Devprayag (where Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet) and Rudraprayag (confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini).
Tip- You can choose to hire a taxi. The cost would get equally divided among members of the group. (Charges in 2019 were 6000 to 7000. Check with operators for current rates). The bus or taxi would halt in two places- Once for breakfast and the second time for lunch. Please eat whatever is available in those tiny shops. Don’t wait to eat after you reach your hotel. Dehydration might kick in, making you feel sick and drain your energy.
- Check into your hotel in Joshimath after the super tiring journey
- Get good rest over night.
Life saving tip- Leave half your luggage in the hotel at Joshimath and only pack essentials for Valley of Flowers/Hemkund trek. Most of the hotels or homestays in Joshimath have free locker facilities and they keep your belongings safe. Packing light is extremely important for this trek.
- This is the last city where you would find ATMs. Carry hard cash with you. Valley of Flowers has no ATM, mobile network or internet facility. A lot of people aren’t aware of this and do not carry enough cash with them. Mind you, internet doesn’t work there and you might just be in a fix.
Here is a video guide on planning Valley of Flowers trek with minute details.
- Board a shared jeep headed to Govindghat from taxi stand of Joshimath. At this point, they record your details and issue passes to you. This is to make sure help reaches passengers if needed and to check if everyone returned safely.
- Hop into another shared jeep at Govindghat to reach Pulna
- Start the km trek from Pulna to Ghangharia which you will most likely reach by late evening. Buy a walking stick at Pulna which costs merely Rs10. The stick will be a great support throughout the route and the trek in the valley. Later you can discard it. (Isn’t it an environment friendly and economical solution)
P.S- You can skip the trek of Pulna to Ghangharia if you opt for a chopper ride. The chopper operates between Govindghat and Ghangharia.
- The choppers cannot be pre-booked. You can book on the spot and seats are allocated on first come- first serve basis. The rates were Rs 1500 per person in 2019. Please note, weather plays an important role in this valley. Chopper services are halted in case of bad weather. If they are postponed for the next day, they return your ticket money.
- The entire trek route from Pulna to Ghangharia is dotted with shacks selling packaged snacks, noodles and soft drinks. The food items are doubly priced but you can’t really help it. Neither you can carry so much water and food with you, nor you can stay hungry or thirsty throughout the arduous trek. Several medical camps are also set up through the route, most of them operated by the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara committee.
- Check into the hotel in Ghangharia which you would reach by late evening. It rains throughout, sometimes non-stop 24 hours. So it is wise to have a plan B.
- Hotels in Ghangharia operate for 6 months only. All the hotels are basic accommodation with mediocre facilities. In a place where electricity and internet are rare, you cannot expect hygiene or luxury. Food is basic but priced high, for obvious reasons. Choose simple meals. The idea is to fuel up yourself before the trek. Avoid deep fried or sugary foods. Do keep medicines, mosquito repellents and ointments handy. Hotels and lodges in Ghangharia range between 3000-5000 per night.
- If you do not have enough cash with you, get in touch with a small store owner opposite to Satnam Medical Store. Call your relative or friend to transfer the required amount to the shopkeeper’s bank account. He gives you cash once the transfer is confirmed. The store owner charges a nominal fee for this transaction. He proved to be a life-saviour for us. (The only phone call you can make in Ghangharia is from BSNL phones, either in the shop or inside the Gurduwara.)
- After overnight rest, leave for Valley of Flowers trek, next morning. The trek opens from 7 am. All dhabas and hotels start operating from 5 am. Have a heavy breakfast before setting off for the trek.
- The park closes at 5 pm and the ticket window is shut at 12 noon. Start making your return max by 2 pm.
- If you have Hemkund Sahib on your bucket list, make that trek on this day. Or else check out from your hotel and return to Joshimath. You can trek all the way from Ghangharia to Pulna or take chopper ride from Ghangharia to Govindghat.
- Stay overnight stay in Joshimath (buses do not operate at night).
- If possible, use your legs and trek. Avoid mounting horses and mules. Many have been reported dead recently on Kedarnath trek due to overworking and hunger. The financial losses post pandemic is the primary reason the owners are pushing them into overworking. While we understand, humans need to earn their livelihood, beating their own animals to death is ultimately killing their source of income. Also it is unethical and unfair on these creatures.
- Check out from Joshimath to reach Rishikesh/Haridwar
- Onward journey to return to your city
Tips for packing right
- First of all, pack light and leave half your luggage at Joshimath.
- Valley of Flowers and Hemkund are cold areas. The latter remains slow clad most of the year. So yes, packing woollens is essential. However, don’t pack extremely heavy jackets or overcoats. Layering is the key to light packing.
- Don’t forget to carry raincoats and plastic covers. Though plastic covers are available in shops in Ghangharia, they are flimsy and render useless most of the times. Why add waste to the environment? Better carry your own raincoats and plastic sheets to stay dry and cover your bagpack. Remember, rains are unpredictable there.
- It is advisable to pack an extra pair of socks, just in case one pair gets soaked in rain (chances of which are high)
- For the trek in valley, layer up wisely. Wear a comfortable t-shirt with a sweater that you can button up. It would be easy to remove and tie it on your waist when you start sweating.
- Needless to mention, wear good quality shoes, preferably trekking shoes which should have been in use for some time. (New shoes always give shoe bite)
Preparing physically: An essential for planning Valley of Flowers trek
- Honestly, altitude is not a problem because the terrain is easy to cross but you should be physically fit enough. Practice running or walking atleast 30 minutes everyday for a month before your trek.
- Invest in good shoes. Spotting people in slippers and floaters was the most amusing thing ever.
- The trek inside the Valley is breath taking and worth all the pains. However, its the journey that might test your patience. Be mentally prepared for adverse conditions and handle the adverse situations.
Make sure you check for COVID protocols with the authorities before leaving. Have a safe journey!