Conventional wisdom dictates that trekking is best avoided during the monsoon months, especially in the Himalayas. However, reality is quite the opposite. Monsoons are one of the best times to trek in the Himalayas. And in this article, I will tell you why you must trek to Valley of Flowers in July and August.
But first, here’s what Co-founder and CTO of Indiahikes, Sandhya UC says, “The moment you enter the valley, you see a variety of flowers with towering mountains on either side. There is also the Pushpavati river flowing in the middle of it. It is a sight to behold, especially in the monsoon months of July, August and early September.” Here’s a link to her video where she talks about the Valley of Flowers trek.
An overview of the trek
The Valley of Flowers trek spans over six days, covering a distance of 38 km. It is located in two protected regions – the Valley of Flowers National Park and the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. And, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This region is also renowned for its Himalayan beauty as it marks the confluence between the Zanskar, Eastern and Western Himalayas.
The Valley of Flowers trek holds sweeping views of the Pushpavati river. The trail snakes through ancient oak and rhododendron forests and climbs to the holy Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara.
Prathima Chabbira, Trek Coordinator at Indiahikes says, “The Valley of Flowers trek is a unique trek in the sense that the window for this trek is open only during the monsoon months, which is great as it is the most beautiful in the monsoon months when the flowers blossom and the valley changes colour every other day.”
The beauty of trekking in July-August
Valley of Flowers trek can be the most rewarding treks for your senses if done in the right season. From the myriad colours of flowers, trees and sunsets to the heavy scent of flowers and the earthy smell of fresh rain to the buzzing and chirping of life in the Himalayas, this trek has it all.
The thriving biodiversity
The valley transforms in the monsoons. Trekkers often get to witness the bloom of rare species of flowers such as the Meadow Geranium, Snake Foil, Hooked Stick Seed, Brahma Kamal, Blue Poppy, River Anemone, White Leaf Hog Foot and the Dog flower to name a few.
The blooming flowers completely transform the landscape as it covers the deep valley (8km long and 2 km wide) in different hues. This sight is extremely rare and for most, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The most beautiful section
The most beautiful part of the trek is the journey to Hemkund Sahib. As you ascend towards the Gurudwara and gain altitude over the Valley, it seems as though you’ve climbed into the world of “Avatar” with mountains floating in seas of clouds and every few minutes you can glimpse a burst of colour and magnificent Pushpavati river through the lazy sea of clouds.
Choose your time carefully
Although it is open from June to September, the best time to do this trek is in July and August. The best way to enjoy this trek is to be well prepared. Trekking in the rain can be extremely enjoyable if planned well.
How much does it rain, and when
First, it’s important to note that the Valley of Flowers trek receives a fair amount of rainfall during the monsoon months. This means, on certain days it rains heavily, but there are many days with light rainfall or no rainfall.
As a thumb rule, you may experience 1-2 days of rainfall out of 6 days (of course, this may vary a little). In the experience of our trek leaders, it generally tends to rain in the second half of the day, usually when you’re almost or already done with trekking for the day.
Be mentally prepared for the monsoon trails
There are three things you must keep in mind while trekking in monsoon.
- Understand that trekking in monsoon does not mean that the trails will be washed out, or that you will have to navigate through knee-deep muddy fields or slippery paths. Yes, the trail does get slippery and a little muddy, but you can easily navigate it.
- Be prepared to get a little drenched. After all, that’s the whole point of trekking in the monsoons, right? Wearing a poncho will protect you and your belongings from getting wet. But expect odd splashes which might get your legs a little wet.
Tip: Choose poncho over a raincoat as it protects you and your belongings. It easily covers your backpack. And when not in use, is compact enough to fit into your backpack. A poncho gives you the flexibility to trek comfortably in the mountains.
- Finally, pack your belongings well in separate compartments by wrapping them in different polythene or plastic bags. Refer to this video by Swathi Chatrapathy to know more. Packing well and covering your backpack with your poncho saves you from a lot of trouble later on.
Here are some additional tips to keep dry during a monsoon trek.
If trekking in monsoon has been on your wish-list for a while, then the legendary Valley of Flowers trek can fit into your plans. It is a moderate trek for which you need to prepare well. But the unparalleled beauty of the trek is worth all the preparation.
Have questions regarding trekking in monsoon? Drop them in the comments below and an expert from Team Indiahikes will address them for you.