The amazing Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand is now open for all travelers – both from within and outside the Uttrakhand. The valley of flowers is located in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve—a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For the first time that the valley of flowers has not opened for travelers at its scheduled time.
If you are planning of heading out for a weekend trek, you need to carry a COVID19 negative test certificate issued within the past 72 hours before your arrival. Failing to submit a negative test report will mean being quarantined for 7 days.
The valley of flowers
The 38km, 4-days trek begins from Govindghat. You can drive from Rishikesh to reach the start point. The nearest airport is Dehradun. The best part is it is open at the moment. You can fly from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Ahmedabad.
The valley of flowers is also sheltered to a number of animals such as the Himalayan musk deer, Himalayan snow leopard, and other exotic plant species. Valley usually opens from June to October (it remains covered with snow during other months of the year), the valley fo flowers faced some loss in tourist inflow in 2020 due to the lockdown in India.
How to Visit the Valley of Flowers National Park
The beautiful landscape of The Valley of Flowers in the north India state of Uttarakhand, bordered by Tibet and Nepal, comes alive with the monsoon rain in the month of June.
This high-altitude Himalayan valley has around 300 different varieties of alpine flowers, which look like a colorful carpet against a mountainous snow-capped background. This valley spread over 87.5 square KM and was become a national park in 1982. This valley is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main Valley of Flowers is a glacial corridor, around 5 KM long and 2 KM wide.
Location of Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers is located in Chamoli Garhwal, close to Nanda Devi National Park. It’s about 595 KM from Delhi and has an altitude that varies from 3,200 m to 6,675 m above sea level.
The closest airport is in Dehradun Capital of Uttrakhand, 295 KM away. The nearest train station is in Rishikesh, 276 KM away.
How to Reach Valley of Flowers
Some effort is needed to reach the Valley of Flowers. The trek starts at Pulna village near Govind Ghat. To reach the starting point, you will need to ride 10 hours Apx. by road to Joshimath from Dehradun, Rishikesh or Haridwar. This is followed by another hour by road from Joshimath. The route is on the way to Badrinath temple.
From Pulna village you will need to trek to the base camp at Ghangaria. Due to the 2013 flood, the trail has been rerouted at many places and the total distance has increased from 13 KM to 16 KM. However, the new trail from Govind Ghat to Pulna village will take about an hour off your trek time. Depending on your fitness level and trekking experience, you will be expected to take 6 to 8 hours. Please note that there is a checkpoint at the starting point of the trek and they won’t allow you to cross it after 2 p.m. So, its better to go as early as possible!
The beginning of the main valley, where all the flowers are, is a further 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from Ghangaria. The trek has become steeper since the flood, as part of the path has been rebuilt. Inside the valley, you’ll need to trek for a further 5-10 kilometers to see all the flowers.
Trek Difficulty Level
The first go, from Govind Ghat to Ghangaria, is easy to moderately difficult level. It becomes more challenging after that. However, you’ll feel like heaven in this magical place. Colorful flowers and foliage can be found all along the trail from Ghangria to the valley.
Travelers who are concerned about their fitness can hire a porter at Govind Ghat to carry their baggage to Ghangaria or ride mule (or you can go by helicopter if the weather is in favor).
Best Time to Visit Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers is open from the starting of June until the starting of October, as it’s covered with heavy snow the rest of the months. The best time to explore is from mid of July to mid of August when all the colorful flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain.
If you are planning to visit before July, you’ll hardly find any flowers at all. However, you will be able to enjoy the snow and view of melting glaciers. After mid of August, the color of the Valley changes quite surprisingly from green to yellow, and the flowers slowly die. In the month of September, the sky becomes clearer with less rain but the flowers start drying.
In regards to the weather of the valley, the temperatures get quite cold at night and early morning.
To prevent trekkers and travelers from taking too much of a toll in the national park, access to The Valley is restricted to daylight time (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and camping is restricted. The last time to enter the park is at 2 p.m. You’ll need to go and return to Ghangaria on the same day.
Entry Fees and Charges
The entry fee for the national park is 650 INR for foreign tourists and 150 INR for Indian tourists for a 3-day pass. Each additional day is 250 INR for foreigners and 50 INR for Indians. There’s a Forest Department check post less than a KM from Ghangaria, which marks the official starting point of The Valley of Flowers. This is the point you pay and obtain your permit. (Note: carry appropriate ID).
Expect to pay 1,000 INR upwards per head for a porter or a mule, for the trek to Ghangaria. You can buy cheap plastic raincoats at Govind Ghat. A personal guide will cost around 2,000 INR. Travel by helicopter from Govind Ghat to Ghangaria one way (or the opposite direction) costs around 3,500 INR per head.
Place to Stay
Government operated Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) guesthouses is a pocket-friendly option for staying in the area, You can book it in advance.
You can enjoy a night at Joshimath or Govind Ghat before begins the trek to Ghangaria. The stay is more plentiful and of a good standard in Joshimath. One of my favorite places to stay there is Himalayan Abode Homestay, as the owner is a professional mountaineer and runs an adventure travel company. Nanda Inn homestay is also recommended.
There are Sikh gurudwaras at Govind Ghat and Ghangaria that provide clean accommodations, and free food (Lunger). Just in case all the private accommodations are occupied at the Ghangaria gurudwara, you can sleep in the hall.
At Ghangaria you’ll find a different range of rooms from cheap guesthouses to luxury tents, priced between 200 INR to 1,500 INR per night. However, comforts are minimal, and the water and electricity supply is erratic. The Sri Nanda Lokpal Palace is my recommended place to stay.
Things to Pack
Make sure you bring enough clothes just in case your clothes get wet due to rain. Other useful stuff packs include a flashlight, raincoat, sunscreen, headlamp, cap, first aid kit, water bottles, toiletries, small towel, and plastic bags to protect your electronic items from rain. It is recommended to wear water-resistant trekking shoes and carry a waterproof backpack.
Also Read: Hiking and Backpacking Tips
Travel Tips for Valley of Flowers
It will take 3 days to finish the trek — 1 day from Govind Ghat to Ghangaria, another 1 day for the Valley of Flowers, and last day for the return trek.
Govind Ghat and Ghangaria become more crowded from July to September with Sikh pilgrims on their way to Hem Kund (the highest altitude Sikh shrine in India), so it is advised to prebook a accommodations.
If you have one extra day, you can also go to Hem Kund. It has a beautiful mountain setting with a lake. The trek is more steeper than that to the Valley of Flowers. It will take 3-5 hrs from Ghangaria. The altitude of Hem Kund is 4,300 Meters, so it will be cold in Hem Kund.
There are many food joints serving Indian food along the way up to Ghangaria. You will also find shops on the route from Ghangaria to Hem Kund, and free delicious food at the shrine. However, you need to take your own food from Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers as not food is available on that route.
Note: There are very few washrooms on the trekking route and no toilet in the valley. And Most cellular network coverage disappears after Govind Ghat.