A trek amidst a riot of colours and scents
“Valley of Flowers is one trek where many people begin their journey of trekking in the Himalayas. And why not? It is one of those rare natural botanical gardens in India. Flowers bloom everywhere in a riot of colours. On one side of the flower-decked valley tall cliffs climb to the sky. The other side is guarded by snow-clad mountains. A serene river glides through the middle of the valley. If there is a picturesque setting that is perfect, then this must be it.
Don’t discount the exhilarating climb to Hemkund Sahib – an alpine lake at 14,300 ft. That such a large clear water lake can be present at this altitude is hard to fathom! Of course, the langar (meal) at the Gurudwara is to die for!
The Valley of Flowers trek manages to show you a glimpse of the joys of Himalayan trekking in just about four days. Once you finish this trek, it doesn’t come as a surprise when you find yourself planning your next big Himalayan adventure.
On a very practical note, to see the valley in its floral splendour, you need to time your trek correctly. July and August, during monsoon, is the best time to do the trek.”
Many tales are spun around the Valley of Flowers – usually about trekkers falling unconscious from the heavy scent of flowers on the valley floor. Whatever the stories, they do have a grain of truth in them, in a good way! It is rare to find a valley so full of flowers. Flowers bloom everywhere in a riot of colours – purple, yellow, white, pink… They blanket the valley in such a way that sometimes, you can’t see the valley floor at all!
Yet, to see the flowers, you need to time your trek correctly. In July and August, during monsoon, is the best time to do the trek. There might be a day or two of rain on the trek but the sight of flowers in full bloom makes up for any discomfort.
Day 1: Getting to base camp, Govind Ghat
The trek to Valley of Flowers (VoF) and Hemkund starts a little beyond Joshimath, at a pilgrim hamlet called Govind Ghat. Leave Haridwar or Rishikesh early in the morning and travel along River Alakananda on the Badrinath highway. The roads are dangerously cut on mountains edges and at times, you only see the river flowing in the gorge deep below.
Do not carry food with you as there are plenty of eateries on the way. As a trekker, there is no need to hire porters or mules on this trail but if you need one to carry your backpack, Govind Ghat is the place to hire a porter or mule.
- Altitude: 6,300 ft
- Time taken: 11 hours drive to Govind Ghat. Pick up from Haridwar Railway station at 6.30 am.
Day 2: Govind Ghat to Ghangria via Poolna
- Altitude: 6,300 ft to 9,600 ft via 7,200 ft
- Time taken: 4 km drive to Poolna. 5-6 hours trek, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Easy – moderate. Gradual ascent throughout on a well- defined trail
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at any of the several dhabas that you will find on the trail.
There is now a motor able road to Poolna. This reduces the distance to be trekked today to 9 km from the earlier 13 km. Start with a 4 km cab ride to Poolna.
The trail is well-defined. It is usually full of Sikh pilgrims walking up and down. Notice the cleanliness on the trail despite hundreds treading upon it every day. It’s a heartening and motivating sight. All thanks to volunteers who sweep the trail every day.
The 9 km trek from Poolna to Ghangria goes all the way along the river. Stop by any roadside dabha for a drink or a bite to eat. The trail is alternately sunny and shaded. At around the midpoint of the day’s trek, you cross the river and go to the other bank. After this, you no longer trek alongside the river.
The trek takes 5-6 hours and you approach a tabular land. This is when you know you are close to Ghangria. Ghangria has a helipad and some space for camping. Half a kilometer from the helipad is the one-street village of Ghangria, lined with hotels, restaurants and a Gurudwara. The Gurudwara offers free accommodation and food to all.
Day 3: Ghangria to Valley of Flowers and back
- Altitude: 9,600 ft to 11,500 ft and back
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 3.7 km each way
- Trek gradient: Easy. Flat walk in the valley
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You can refill your water bottles from streams that you will find in the Valley, after a couple of hours of trekking.
Leave Ghangria early (6.00 am) to give yourself the whole day to spend at Valley of Flowers. The trail splits in less than a kilometre. There is a gate to buy entry tickets to the valley. Walk inside and notice the small flowering plants springing up on either side.
A kilometre into the gate, there is a scenic bridge across a stream gushing below. Tall rocky mountains rise before you. Notice that the well-laid-out trail has now become a small footway along the side of the valley. The stream flows below you and there are small, hard snow patches by the side. On the trek inside Valley of Flowers, you see very few people around you. This may come across as a big and welcome contrast to the previous day’s trek, where there were hundreds. The scenery has also taken a drastic turn for the better and any direction you turn to looks picture-perfect.
Trek along for a couple of kilometers on the flat path and to your right opens up the valley. Cross another rickety bridge and collect water to drink from below. The entire valley is generally a carpet of colours – green, yellow, red, blue. It is surrounded by mountains with trees at lower levels, brown and grey soil in the middle and bright snow at the top. A bright sunny day will ensure deep blue skies completing the picture and taking it beyond your imagination.
The valley is really a botanists’ dreamland! One can find flowers, leaves, buds of various shapes, sizes, colours, all growing together. Notice various types of bees and insects hovering on these strange flowers. Walk further into the valley and you will be engulfed with an amazing scent, which unfortunately cannot be captured but can only be felt. The valley stretches 5-7 km further, until it ends with a glacier visible at a distance. The stream flows all the way through the valley. Take off your shoes and dip your feet into it to experience the icy cold water.
Prominent flowers that you will see in July-August include Meadow Geranium, Snake Foil, Hooked Stick Seed, Himalayan Rose, Blue Poppy, River Anemone, White Leaf Hog Foot and Dog Flower.
Carry packed lunch from Ghangria on the Valley of Flowers trek day. There is no food available in the valley. Overnight camping isn’t allowed either. Plan your return along the same path by early afternoon.
The afternoon sun falling on the valley from a different direction, gives a whole new perspective to the same place you saw in the morning.
Day 4: Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib and back
- Altitude: 9,600 ft to 14,107 ft and back
- Time taken: 9-10 hours, 6 km each way
- Trek gradient: Moderate – difficult. Steep ascent for about 4 hours to reach Hemkund Sahib and steep descent all the way back.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at the hotels that line the trail.
Start your day early. The weather can be impulsive in the afternoon and sudden cloud cover and rain can get you stranded if you do not get down on time. The thought of getting up before 5.00 am can be daunting but the Gurudwara makes it easy. Their day starts at 4.00 am with singing of bhajans. By 5.00 am, you hear people outside the gate of the Gurudwara chanting in chorus and the horses being readied to go up to Hemkund Sahib. Get up and grab a hot drink of chai. A poncho (light rain coat) and a trekking pole can be handy on the trek to Hemkund. Pass the deviation to Valley of flowers. Continue to trek up the steep path slowly but steadily. Spot a pretty water fall on your right falling through the rock walls on the right.
After about 2 hours of walking, you are higher than the tree line and the views begin to get better. Mark the route to Valley of Flowers on the mountain in front across the river gorge. After another hour of slow walking with numerous breaks, you begin to feel reduced oxygen levels in the air. A melting glacier lies on the way.
Take generous breaks while climbing up the steep path. These breaks are important as going up very fast could only mean inviting altitude sickness. Do not sit down during these breaks. Sitting down causes your muscles to relax and getting back on track can be very difficult. An hour of stiff climbing brings you to Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. The lake lies just behind it. The Hemkund Sahib lake remains frozen for six months. Warm yourself in the Gurudwara and have generous helpings of hot tea and khichdi.
Walk around to the other side of the Hemkund Lake. It exudes an aura of peace and serenity. It’s crystal clear, undisturbed and reflects mountains the mountains surrounding it. The lake and the Gurudwara in this setting are a sight to watch. Around Hemkund, the Himalayan flower, Brahma Kamal grows abundantly. This flower grows only at heights of 10,000 ft to 15,000 ft.
Leave Hemkund by early afternoon. The walk down can be strenuous on the knees and toes. It takes 4- 5 hours to walk down the 6 km.
Day 5: Ghangria to Govind Ghat via Poolna
- Altitude: 9,600 ft to 6,300 ft via 7,200 ft
- Time taken: 4 hours, 9 km + 4 km drive
- Trek gradient: Easy descent to Poolna on the same trail that you trekked on earlier.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at the several dhabas that line the trail.
The trail back to Poolna is on the same path that you took on Day 1. Drive from Poolna to Govind Ghat. Start after breakfast and reach Govind Ghat by 2.00 pm.
Day 6: Govind Ghat to Haridwar
Drive down to Haridwar.
How to get fit for the Valley of Flowers trek
The Valley of Flowers trek is classified as a moderate trek. You trek up to an altitude of 14,100 feet at Hemkund Sahib from 6,234 ft at Govind Ghat. That is a huge altitude gain and you have to make sure your lungs are strong enough to acclimatise to thin air for more work.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin
- Gradually increase the distance to 7 km. Target completing this in 63 minutes
- Before you go on the trek, you should be able to walk at least 10 km at a stretch. Target completing this in 90 minutes
In terms of speed, make sure you’re able to jog 5 km in 35 minutes before the start of the trek. If you are 45 years old and above, your target should be completing at least 3 km within 29 minutes before you go on the trek.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 15 in each set
This is another area you should work on. Hemkund Sahib is quite a stiff climb and the descent from Hemkund Sahib is quite brutal to your knees. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.’
What to take on the Valley of Flowers trek
- Trekking shoes: The climb to Hemkund Sahib is especially steep and you need shoes with ankle support. Sport shoes won’t be comfortable enough. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Daypack (20 litres): You will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks for your trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib.
The Valley of Flowers trek happens during monsoons so make sure you take a poncho for this trek.
- Three Warm Layers: You will be trekking and staying at high altitudes. So make sure you have the apt clothes for the climatic conditions. It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
- Two trek pants: Wear one pair and carry the other.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Mandatory
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a suncap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Click on the images to see them in full screen
Trek fee: Rs. 7,950/-*
*GST 5% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (lodges – 3 people per room)
- All meals – vegetarian
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp. Transport cost from Haridwar to Govind Ghat and return is additional, and is to be paid directly to the driver.
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs. 500* plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 350 per day inclusive of tax. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Haridwar on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under:
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
2.The trek fee includes all cost from the start of the trek at Govind Ghat to the end of the trek at Govind Ghat.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Haridwar railway station at 6:30 am.Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels to the base camp together in shared cabs.
4. Transport: The cost of transport from Haridwar to Govind Ghat and return from Govind Ghat to Haridwar has to be borne by the trekker and paid directly to the driver. The transport is arranged through local operators in shared cabs/mini bus. Each shared cab costs approximately Rs. 6000/- one way and mini bus costs Rs.10,000. Trekkers are expected to share the cost likewise.
Note: In case you do not want the Indiahikes pick up, please let us know at least 20 days in advance.
5. Backpack carrying: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 500 + 5% GST. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading – Rs.350 per day inclusive of tax The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
6. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non – liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of any of your gears/equipment on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation will be terminated with immediate effect.
11. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
How safe is the Valley of Flowers trek?
The Valley of Flowers trek by is of moderate difficulty. You would need to be careful on slippery sections on the trail especially if it’s raining. The altitude gain while trekking from Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib is something that you will need to be mindful of since AMS can hit trekkers at this altitude.
If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitudes.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow, and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Valley of Flowers trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Valley of Flowers trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Valley of Flowers trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Valley of Flowers trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At altitudes above 10,000 ft, the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out. On the Valley of Flowers trek, Hemkund Sahib is where AMS is most likely to hit a trekker. You might also notice its symptoms while descending if your body hasn’t adjusted to the altitude.
At any point in the trek, especially around Hemkund Sahib, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you identify any symptom of AMS. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to Ghangria immediately.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours.And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
Exit points on the Valley of Flowers trek
Valley of Flowers, being a pilgrims trail, is well laid out and has easy exits from Ghangria.
Joshimath, around an hour’s drive from Govindghat, has a hospital in case of a medical emergency during the trek.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
Valley of Flowers, being a pilgrim’s trail, is well-laid out and has easy exits.
If there is a medical emergency on the trek, your trek leaders are trained to handle crisis, especially related to altitude and medical emergencies. Indiahikes team carries high altitude medical equipment, oxygen cylinders, and other emergency kits.
Most situations are resolved by the trek leader’s intervention. If, however, evacuation is required, it is carried out by the Indiahikes team. There are plenty of exit points throughout the trek so any evacuation needed is taken care of. The affected participant is moved down to the nearest emergency medical centre as soon as possible. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Accommodation on all days of the trek will be in lodges, where you will be sharing rooms with fellow trekkers.
2. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 12-20ºC and night time temperature will range from 4-10ºC.
3. Will there be snow on this trek?
There will be no snow on the trek.
4. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games.
5, How do we reach Govind Ghat?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Haridwar railway station to Govind Ghat, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs. 6,000 per vehicle (5-6 seater) or Rs.9,500 per vehicle (11-12 seater). You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Govind Ghat will take 11-12 hours.
6. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Govind Ghat to Haridwar. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
7. If we want to visit Badrinath or Vasudhara falls after the trek, will Indiahikes arrange for this?
You will have to make these trips on your own. Indiahikes will not arrange for this. Shared cabs are easily available from Govindghat to Badrinath. A seat in a shared jeep to Badrinath costs Rs.150-Rs.200. From Badrinath, you can hire a vehicle to Mana for around Rs.800 – Vasudhara falls is a 4 km trek from Mana.
Before you set off for Badrinath or Mana, make sure you check with locals about current weather conditions.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Valley of Flowers trek?
This trek is best done during monsoon, July – September, when the valley comes alive with the alpine flowers that it is known for.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Valley of Flower trek is easy-moderate and the trail is popular and well established. It is suitable for a first time trekker provided you are fit and prepare for the trek before setting off.
11. If not the Valley of Flowers trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
The Tarsar Marsar trek in Kashmir is a good alternative. This is a trek of moderate difficulty. You will walk through some stunning alpine landscape on this trek.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.500 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Govind Ghat, the amount will be Rs.350 per day inclusive of tax. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision.
Offloading cost is charged for only 2 days – Govindghat – Ghangria and Ghangria – Govindghat. Since you will be returning to the same guest house at Ghangria on the other days, you will need to carry only a small day pack.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
The minimum age requirement for this trek is 8 years. If your child meets this criterion and is physically fit, you can take her/him along.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest houses where you will be staying have concrete toilets.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. You will also find water sources along the trail on all days of the trek.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
Mobile network (BSNL) is available only up to Govindghat. Make sure you inform anxious family members about poor connectivity in the mountains. Electricity charging points are available at lodges. However, you need to be mindful of the fact that here could be power cuts.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of shoes that is water resistant. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – You will be picked up from Haridwar for the 10-12 hour drive to Govind Ghat.
Day 2 – The trail from Govind Ghat to Ghangria is 13 km and will take you 5 hours.
Day 3 – Ghangria to Valley of Flowers is 5 km each way. It’ll take you around 6 hours in all.
Day 4 – Ghangria to Hemkund and back is 12 km and will take you 8-9 hours.
Day 5 – Returning from Ghangria to Govind Ghat will take you around 5 hours.
23. How do I manage the low temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
However, the temperature is unlikely to dip into negative on this trek. You may want to decide on the thermals based on how resistant you are to cold weather.
24. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
25. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
26. What are the other places that we can see around Valley of Flowers?
Having come all the way to Govind Ghat, there are two options that you could explore if you add a day to your trip.
Option 1: Govind Ghat to Mana Village and Vasudhara Falls via Badrinath
From Govind Ghat, Badrinath is just 36 km away. It takes around two hours to cover this distance. The scenery en route can take your breath away. Do not fail to read the boards along the road put up by the border roads organization. They are meaningful and humorous.
From Badrinath, take a shared cab to Mana (3 km), which is the last village within Indian territory across the border from Tibet. It’s a very picturesque village, with small streams and a small waterfall. The views from here of Neelkant peak are gorgeous. The village also has a lot of folklore associated with. The Pandavas are said to have rested here during their exile. Befriend a localite here and chat him up to learn more about the village.
From Mana, you could also trek to Vasudhara Falls, which is an easy 6 km trek that takes around 2 hours. Vasudhara is a milky – white waterfall that plunges from a height of 400 ft. The best part about it is that if the water isn’t too forceful, you could go stand underneath it and enjoy a refreshing shower.
Trek back to Mana or Badrinath from here before sunset.
Option 2: Visit Auli from Govind Ghat via Joshimath
If you’re looking for a more relaxing excursion after your trek to Valley of Flowers, you could visit Auli. Auli is a popular ski destination. It is stark white with snow in winter and full of green meadows in summer. It’s also called Auli Bugyal. It’s more of a leisurely holiday to Auli and it’s a tad bit expensive.
After reaching Govind Ghat, drive down to Joshimath, which is an hour’s drive away. Auli is situated above Joshimath and is accessible via a cable car. This ride in the cable car is a wonderful experience.
Auli is situated at a height of 3,049 m. It is surrounded by lovely oaks and coniferous forests. It offers are 270 degree view of Mt. Nandadevi, Kamet, and even Neelkant.
From Auli, you can head back to Badrinath the next day or the same day.
27. Is it possible to go to Badrinath on Day 5 and return to Govindghat?
You can go to Badrinath on Day 5. However, it will not be possible to return to Govindghat on the same day since the roads close in the evening. It is worth spending an evening and a morning in Badrinath so we recommend that you stay there overnight.
28. Is locker facility available at Govindghat to leave a bag behind?
You can leave a bag at the hotel in Govindghat. Make sure this has only clothes and no valuables such as money, mobile phone, jewellery, laptop etc.
How to get Base camp Govind Ghat
Delhi → Haridwar → Govind Ghat
Govind Ghat is a small town 20 kms from Joshimath. Joshimath is a city, located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is the gateway to Hemkund Sahib and Valley of flowers. Take an overnight train from Delhi to Haridwar. We will organise pick-up vehicles from Haridwar railway station at 6:30am. The total cost of transportation one way is Rs.6,000 for the SUV and 9,500 for the Tempo traveller (to be shared among the trekkers). The journey to Govind Ghat is approximately 10-12 hours.
If you are trekking independently
Reach Haridwar via overnight train from New Delhi. Buses run from Haridwar to Joshimath and Badrinath early morning. There is a bus every 30 minutes. You can also take a shared taxi from Haridwar to Joshimath or Govind Ghat. In case you are coming from Rishikesh, shared jeeps are available near the GMVN Bharat-Bhoomi Guest House. Stay at Joshimath/Govind Ghat for the night.
There is a GMVN and a couple of private lodges to choose from at Joshimath. There are lodges in Govind Ghat. In case of emergencies and if there is a need to break journey then one can halt overnight at Rudraprayag or Srinagar. The next day you can take a shared taxi to Govind Ghat ( 20 kilometres and 45 minutes away) which is the starting point of our trek to Valley of flowers and Hemkund.
You can choose to stay overnight or head to Badrinath or you may hire shared cabs which will take you to Haridwar/Rishikesh.
Here is what our trekkers have to say about the trek!
“Indiahikes offers the best of all I have seen in other groups! I must admit it that for the first time in my life I did something which took me out of my comfort zone. Not only this trek helped me to learn a lot of things but also helped me to inculcate discipline in my life.”-Abhishek Jain, batch of May 2016
“The trek was really awesome. I personally learnt a lot from the trek. Indiahikes provided us with good services, even at the time of emergencies. Also, the entire team is a group of concerned nature lovers!”-Aishwarya, batch of May 2016
“Indiahikes is by far the most organized and caring trek company I know, if safety is the point then Indiahikes is the best, also you have routes throughout the country.”-Paramahamsa Kolagani, batch of May 2016
“Locations, guides, group and general itinerary were fantastic!” – Dinesh, batch of July 2015
“The entire experience was just incredible.Walk to the fairyland that is Valley of flowers is unmatchable- the snowpeak mountains, the misty views , glittering waterfalls starting from the clouds , old young all aged people struggling to watch the beauty of the flowers everything is just amazing. And I was pleasantly surprised by the haridwar world hemkund Sahib. Loved everypart of the trek” – Vinaya, batch of July 2015
“The Valley of Flowers and the Hemkund were very beautiful ,the weather was also very pleasant” – Sunil, batch of July 2015
“The views are awesome!” – Seemanthini, batch of July 2015
“Location of the trek was very good. The variety of flowers and birds that we came across was just unbelievable. I was very happy to be at such a heavenly place.” – Supriya, batch of July 2015
“The Valley and Hemkund Sahab are the high points of the trek.” – Nistha, batch of July 2015
“Trek was evenly divided over 4 days. Stay, Food and transportation are taken care or arranged. We get a lot of information form the trek Leads regarding locality, types of plants and animals, suggestions on what is better to be done and so on.” – Vijay , batch of August 2015
“The valley was fantastic!” – Deepak Kasthwal, batch of August 2015
“-The location -The trails -Weather -Flora -Other trekkers in the IH group -The people I encountered during the trek -The initiative to clean the trails -Maggi and boiled eggs -Amar (the trek sweeper)” – Paras Chaudhary, batch of August 2015
“The trek took us to Valley of flowers through a beautiful route and that was the best part of trek. The second guide, Amar helping Salman was a friendly chap and special thanks to him for staying with me till end of each leg. The food was tasty at both Ghangria and Govindghat. My trek mates were really cool people and I thank India hikes for bringing so many amazing people to trek on this scenic route.” – Rohit Talekar, batch of August 2015
“Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Trek was the second with India hikes and the highest I have done so far. It was an amazing experience in the lap nature which was made unforgettable by the great hospitality of Indiahikes team both Dineshji and kaushal. The stories from the indiahikes team made the hike to 14,400 feet easy and memorable.” – Monika Agarwal, batch of August 2015
“The trek leaders were amazing, guided us really well. Met a group of awesome people who gelled really quickly.. Lot of fun memories attached to this trek. But the best part of the trek was THE HIMALAYAS. The valley of flowers with its enchanting beauty just took my breath away.. Those myriad of flowers dotting a carpet of green was the best sight I’ve caught in my life.” – Shruthi.N.R, batch of August 2015
“The Hemkund trip It didn’t rain on that day We reached the top only to see the lake covered with fog. But just before we left the fog cleared and we saw a great view. It was quite fantastic. That day while coming down we got to talk with Dineshji about the birds and flowers of the valley which was another great experience” – Sumeet KD, batch of August 2015
“Trek to Hemakund sahib lake. though the trail was steep ascent, the valley vies were amazing and fantastic.” – Guruprasad, batch of August 2015
“The beauty of nature, the people around!” – Nayana Bhat, batch of August 2015
“Rejuvenating Experience after a year. Loved the Himalayas. All the co-trekkers were friendly and enthusiastic. Will be surely doing more treks in Himalayas in the coming months.” – Ravindra Nayak, batch of August 2015
“Everything about the trek was absolutely fantastic!” – Shubhankar Roy, batch of August 2015
“It was a wonderful experience for a first time trekker to Himalayas. The dip at hemkund sahib lake just vanished all the tiredness. The views we get to see were amazing and it kept changing frequently. The carpet of flowers were beautiful.” – Nitesh Bothra, September 2015
“Every thing during the Trek was Fantastic, as it iwas the first ever trek I undertook!! The leader, the group and the arrangements for stay & food were all very good!!” – Dheerendra, September 2015