Essential tips for doing the Valley of Flowers trek

Pallavi and Prakash Chitnis, who did the Valley of Flowers trek with Indiahikes in August 2012, tell us their experience. Having a bit of knowledge about high-altitude trekking, they hand out useful tips for trekkers.

Q. Why did you choose this trek?

Prakash: We had been hearing about the Valley of Flowers for a long time. Last year, I had gone on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through MEA and KMVN.  So this year, we decided to take the plunge.

Pallavi: The beautiful alpine meadow and the high altitude lake surrounded by brahmakamals, was on my list of places to see for a long time. Had a glimpse of the route from Govindghat on the way to Badrinath in 1998 and knew that I too would trek up that path someday.

Q. How did you prepare for the trek? 

Prakash: I was walking practically everyday about 6 km in a little over an hour and climbing five floors up to our flat at least once a day. I should have prepared more, especially climbing and descending stairs, since we wanted to walk and not use a pony.

Pallavi: My exercise schedule included brisk walk for an hour, combined with stretching and climbing up and down 7-8 flights of stairs. Besides, yoga and pranayam exercises to regulate breathing helped in preparation for the high altitude trek. Also, my mental preparation came from the fact that I’m an avid birder. I hoped to see high altitude Himalayan birds. If one strongly desires to experience such places then the mental preparation is automatic.

Valley of Flowers Uttarakhand
Valley of Flowers Uttarakhand

Q. What kind of equipment do you think is necessary or would help while doing this trek?

  • It always rains in the hills, usually in the afternoon. A light coverall worn loosely would be better than a Duckback-type raincoat. You get as wet due to heat and sweating in the latter. There were light-weight plastic ponchos available at shops in Govind Ghat, which could be worn quickly in case of rain and stashed away when the weather was clear.
  • The locals do go about in hawai chappals and barefoot, but a good pair of waterproof trekking boots are essential for trekkers. And learn how to lace these properly. In spite of all the precautions I took, while coming down to Govind Ghat on the last day my small toes were squeezed! My foot was sliding forward, making my toes crash into the shoe.  I did retie the lace twice but to no avail.
  • Clothes will get wet one way or another.  A clothes string will always come in handy.  Also separate polythene bags for wet/damp clothes are essential.
  • Proper walking sticks with a curved handle are most useful.
  • Fleece jacket (instead of woollen) is an excellent option for the monsoon season in Himalayas. It provides good insulation, is light weight and dries easily. Keep an extra pair of socks and medicines for tummy aches, headaches and diarrhea handy while walking.
Valley of flowers trek
Valley of Flowers National Park

Q. Do you have and tips on how to prepare for the Valley of Flowers trek?

Walk 10 km a day, plus ascending descending stairs of, say, an eight storey building, about twice a day.

Q. What were the major highlights of the trek for you?

The flowers, the birds, the ever-changing panorama, the cold mountain streams rushing down, the greenery. Beautiful blue poppies and brahmakamals growing along the Hemkund sahib route. Bonding with people while trekking up to Hemkund. Water, dry fruits and encouragement offered by strangers to complete the trek. Breakfast of parathas and aloo sabji under the large rock at Valley of Flowers. Watching finches and butterflies amongst alpine flowers in the valley.

 Q. What was the most difficult part of the trek?

The last two kilometres to Hemkund took our measure.  Every now and then, we would stop to catch our breath and rest our legs on the pretext of enjoying the scenery, looking closely at the flowers or taking a photograph!

Q. Please share some moments while on the trek that stuck the most in your memory.

The feeling of “I’ve done it” on reaching Hemkund was of course the peak. On the way, a halo appeared on the top of the mountain, as though highlighting a divine presence. The lovely lake set in the middle of the peaks when the weather cleared up for a while. Also, a bullfinch took a closer look at people lunching under the big rock at Valley of flowers.

 Q. Do you have any suggestions for the future trekkers?

  • Be well-prepared mentally and physically; when you’re not struggling, you will be able to enjoy the glamour of the mountains no words can describe.
  • Above 10,000 ft, take things slowly and steadily. Eat/snack lightly but frequently and drink water regularly.
  • Not a medical authority however can offer following tips from my experience. High altitude sickness can appear as headache, Nausea or diarrhea. Keep medicines near you in case of emergency. Ginger lime juice is a good remedy for travel & altitude related sickness
  • Enjoy the beautiful surroundings; they energise you to achieve your goal. Avoid binging on glucose and sugar granules while walking. Eat dry fruits, biscuits or granola bars instead. While trekking up, do not sit down for long. The muscles that have been warmed up by exercise cool off quickly and get jammed. Walk at your own pace, set small targets, keep walking with a group and don’t give up.

For a detailed description of the trek take a look at the Valley of Flowers 2015 trek guide.

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Sandhya UC

Sandhya UC

Sandhya is a partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She believes in sustainable living just as she believes in sustainable trekking.

22 thoughts on “Essential tips for doing the Valley of Flowers trek

    1. Hi Manjula, July- September is a great time to do this trek. First two weeks of August is especially great to see valley in full bloom.

  1. Hi. My mother is very keen in doing this trek. She is 58 years old and never been on a trek before. She is medically fit, apart from some joint pains. I am apprehensive about her going for this trek. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Rahul Valley of Flowers would actually be the perfect trek for your mother to begin with. It does require a fair amount of fitness though. She will need to brisk walk regularly and increase her stamina. In terms of safety, this is one of the safest treks to do. We’ll be checking her vitals (BP, Oxygen, Pulse rate) every day, and in case of any problem, exit is easy as well. So it’s a good trek for her to do. 🙂

  2. Hi, I am planning to go to VoF in late July. Just wanted to check given it will be monsoon time …would there be worms(especially earthworms) around. Sorry to be asking this question but i have a phobia of worms.

    1. Hi Rachna we can’t promise you that there won’t be worms, given that the soil is usually wet. But perhaps you should do the trek simply to get over your fear of worms. 🙂 Also, you’ll be staying in clean lodges, where you’ll be safe and away from the worms.

  3. Hello, I am Jay. I am planning to go solo for this Trek and have never been on a trek before. Do you think it is the right decision or should I find some company ?

    1. Hi Jay, if you’re planning the Valley of Flowers trek, it is a very good trek to try independently. You don’t even need a guide. There are lodges so your stay is taken care of as well. You don’t need company.

  4. Hello. i am a first time trekker. can u suggest me shoes for this trek. also can i take along my five years old daughter on this trek. Would i get porter/pony for her.

    1. Hi Rekha, you can go for the Forclaz series by Decathlon. Basically you need something with ankle support and good grip to tackle the slippery terrain. As for your child, we wouldn’t advice taking such a young girl on the trek. Our minimum age criteria is seven. We don’t take children below that age.

  5. Hii ..i m indrani .nd i m 23 years old.this season i go to vally of flowers ..i m little afraid..can i do this ?? This is my first trek …nd i m little healthy …
    Please suggest me which type of dress nd woolen clothes i need for trek ….
    I walk every day almost 6 km ..but i have doubt can i do this ? ??

  6. Since we are going to be staying in lodges, is there a need to carry extra batteries for the DSLR camera or carry the charger ? do let me know

    1. Hi Umesh
      Its a good idea to carry both since the batteries die out quickly up there on the mountains. So keep your charger as well as extra batteries.

  7. Hi Swathi,

    I am Sachin Agrawal, planning to trek around 12th of August with one of my friend. But Can you tell me that is it safe to do? As lot of rain and landslides will be there.

    1. Hello Sachin
      You can most certainly do the trek. The landslides usually happen on the way to Govindghat. Our team is constantly in touch with each other making sure we do not get held up in a landslide. We make sure you reach the camp safely.

  8. Hi, I am a first time trekker, and a smoker too, but I do exercise regularly, and walk around 4-5 km daily. Will you please suggest if the same is safe for me or not, and what kind of precaution I should take ?

    1. Hi Jeet, if you meet the fitness requirements you can definitely do the trek. I would suggest you try walking long distances before the trek. But I hope you know that you will not be permitted to smoke during the days you will be trekking with Indiahikes.

      1. Thanks Karishma for your quick and prompt response, I know that I’ll be not permitted to smoke during the trek, and I am absolutely ok with that. But my concern is about AMS and weather in mid sept.

        1. Hi Jeet
          AMS has nothing to do with the condition of your lungs. Anyone can get AMS, even someone who has been on several high altitude treks. I suggest you take diamox as a preventive measure to AMS. The weather as of now is not that great especially with the recent landslide on the way to Valley of Flowers. It has been raining heavily in the region.

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