Trekking in India: Valley of Flowers
India’s Valley of Flowers is an exhilarating sight to behold. If you look up, you’ll see the high snow-capped mountains of the Greater Himalayas. Look down, and before you will be a rainbow carpet of budding alpine flowers. And ahead of you? Nothing but the trail and secluded wilderness.
We highly recommend the Valley of Flowers trek. It isn’t crowded, you see a variety of terrain ranging to meadows to snow, and the hike is paired with show-stopping views of the towering Himalayan mountains. Here, we take you along a journey of your senses, and prepare you for what’s in store in this spectacular adventure. The route was pioneered by our land partners in India who are experts in Himalayan treks.
About the Valley of Flowers India Trek:
Frank Smythe, a British Explorer and mountaineer, was descending to Bhundyar Valley after his successful climb of Mount Kamet in 1931, and saw a stunning valley covered with wildflowers. Suitably naming it the “Valley of Flowers", Smythe returned to the spot in 1937 to explore high altitude passes - including Bhundyar Khal.
The Valley of Flowers passage takes trekkers through the Greater Himalayas. It goes across the North-South Zanskar Range and connects the Alakhnanda river valley with the Dhauli Ganga river valley. The trek starts from Ghamsali, close to the India/Tibetan border. It passes through meadows, Bankund Glacier, over to Bhudyar Khal then down to Rataban, Tipra, and Nilgiri Glaciers.
Trekking Grade: Difficult
Best time to travel: May, June & October
Number of days: 8 trekking days plus 4 travel days
Accommodation: Camping and local inns
Starting point: Rishikesh is a city in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills beside the Ganges River. Flights are available from Delhi to Risikesh.
Surrounding you are the following great peaks:
Mount Nanda Devi (7,816 meters)
Mount Kamet (7,756 meters)
Mount Abi Gamin (7,355 meters)
Mount Mana (7,274 meters)
Mount Devban (6,855 meters)
Mount Bidhan Parbat (6,520 meters)
Mount Mandir Parbat (6,559 meters)
Mount Nigiri Parbat (6,474 meters)
Mount Ghori Parbat (6,708 meters)
Hathi Parbat (6,727 meters)
Needless to say, the Valley of Flowers is a spectacular trek.
Day 1: Trek to Damersen – 5 hours
You start with an easy trail along Amrit Ganga, a close valley. The vast expense of grassland stretches ahead, interrupted by the occasional rockfall. Here, you embark for 3400m – about 5 hours – towards Damersen Camp, where you stay the night. Damersen Camp can be described as a flat, open land with a clear pond, unique for its perfectly round pebbles. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see views of Bankund Glacier along the way!
Day 2: Trek to Eri Udiar – 8 hours
Today, you follow along the Amrit Ganga stream, which runs out of the Bank Kund valley. An hour and a half of easy walking will soon turn steep, as you ascent towards the Bank Kund Glacier. The terraine becomes moraine – the accumulation of rock debris deposited by a glacier – until you reach the Eri Udiar camp. Eri Udiar was found by mountaineer Frank Smythe himself, an idyllic camping site and natural rock garden with wildflowers, turf, a small waterfall, and a rivulet flowing in the centre.
Day 3: Trek to Rabatan East Glacier – 7 hours
Moraine will gradually turn into a section of snow on what may be your most challenging trekking day yet. You’ll continue to gain altitude as the day becomes more challenging and tiring... but you continue on, knowing that reaching the base camp will be worth the effort.
With this type of terrain, a flat camping spot is quite rare. Thus, comfort may be sacrificed for the sheer beauty of the area. Overnight camping will be spent on Rataban East Glacier.
Day 4: Acclimatization Day
On this day, we take it easier than in the previous days to acclimatize to the height gain. This doesn’t mean we rest all day – it is recommended to bask in the area’s beauty with a few day hikes and trails. The next day, we cross a high altitude pass.
Day 5: Trek to Bhyunder Khal Base – 7-8 hours
Rise and shine! We start early today, as the walk ahead on the glacier involves technical hiking which may take longer than usual. No matter your experience, 7-8 hours of steep, technical trekking is met with great fatigue – but you will forget about this once you reach the summit. The views of the Himalayas are astounding.
In the early days, this was the entrance to the valley. Frank Smythe came over in 1937, naming the Bhyundar Valley as 'Valley of Flowers'. Nowadays, this passage is being crossed quite often. It is as much of an easy passage as it is historic.
Day 6: Trek to Tipra Kharak – 6 hours
Following more of the glacier’s disposed moraine, you make your way over to Tipra Kharak camp. On your way, you pass by the Bhyundar Icefall. As you walk down towards the camp, the valley becomes more and more narrow.
Soon, the landscape becomes dotted with bushes of rhubarb, and the Tipra glacier comes to view. You’ve reached Tipra Kharak camp, a pretty setting surrounded by a glacier, mountain ranges, networks of streams and the unending meadows of the Valley of Flowers.
Day 7: Trek to Ghangaria – 5 hours
This next trail is frequented by the forest department. You’ll encounter sprawling meadows laden with varieties of alpine flowers, rivers, and big mountains all around. The prominent plant species in this area are anemone, geranium, marsh marigold, lilium, ranunculus, and corydalis.
You’ll cross River Pushpawati over a wooden bridge. Then, you’ll arrive at the forest check-post and continue walking down to the guest house for an overnight stay.
Day 8: The final trek to Pulna Village – 5-6 hours
Today marks your final day of trekking... your comfortable hotel stay is in-sight! The 9km trek is simple, paved, and follows River Pushpawati back to civilisation.
The trail passes by a number of waterfalls. It’s a picturesque finale to a spectacular trek through some of the most stunning sceneries that India – and the world – have to offer. The challenge of this trek is met at the very end with a phenomenal feeling of satisfaction and achievement – the dopamine surge is unparalleled.
At the end of the trail, your car... or rather, your chariot! ... awaits. You’ll drive to Joshimath for a much awaited warm shower, and a soft, comfortable bed.
The combination of snows, meadows, wild alpine flower, Himalayan birds and mammals, this is a not to be missed trekking route.
Other great Himalayan treks we offer
Sikkim: Mount Kanchenjunga Circular Trek
Mount Kanchenjunga along with its five great massifs forms the third highest peaks in the world. These five massifs along with, all the surrounding peaks makes this as one of the most beautiful mountain treks anywhere in the world where the trail is dominated with spectacular views all around. With views of Mounts Kabru 7,412 meters, Talung 7,375 meters, Siniolchu 6,890 meters, Simvo 6,850 meters, Pandim 6,708 meters, Rathong 6,678 meters, Kabru Dome 6,600 meters, Kok Thang 6,145 meters to mention some prominent peaks.
Trip details: Medium difficulty. 3 weeks through Bagdogra | Darjeeling | Uttaray | Chiwa Bhanjyang | Dhor | Pare Megu | Lam Pokhari | Gomathang | Pangden | Dzongri | Lamune | Goechala | Thangshing | Tshoka |Yuksom | Kalimpong | Bagdogra. Best months mid-March to end of April and October to November.
Ladakh: Stok to Shang Trek.
Flying across the Himalayas, the Great Himalayan Divide and the Pir Panjal ranges of Ladakh with views of the Eastern Karakorams are experiences you’ll have landing at Leh, This is likely one of the world’s most spectacular flying experiences. The quaint though now fairly bustling township of Leh is an ideal spot to take rest for the trek ahead while you acclimatize to an altitude of 3,500 meters.
This beautiful trek starting from Stok Village, under the shadows of the Mounts Stok Kangri (6,070 Meters), Matho Kangri (6,000 Meters) and Golep Kangri (5,950 Meters), crossing the Matho La pass (4,878 Meters) and the Shang La (4,945 Meters). Situated along the Pir Panjal mountains just South of Leh city and the Indus Valley, both the starting and ending roadheads of the trail are not far from the city and the valley. The trail starts with the Stok Village where the palace of the erstwhile rulers of Ladakh is located and ends in the village of Shang. In between we cross along with high passes with spectacular views, deep river gorges which offer amazing topography.
The two high passes give a great view of the towering Stok Kangri and the Golep Kangri peaks and the surrounding valleys. In the late season when heavy snows have still not come down and if one is really lucky, snow leopards, ibex and mountain goats can be seen here along with, marmots and many kinds of Himalayan birds.
This is considered a not so difficult trek in Ladakh that crosses a couple of high passes under the shadows of snow covered Himalayan peaks in a relatively short time. This trek is near the Indus Valley and not far from the city of Leh therefore, not involving very long drives. Our land partners have pioneered treks in this area. In 1985 at the base of one of the passes here they spotted a snow leopard with two cubs along with eight ibex and many blue mountain sheep called bharals.
For sightseeing from Leh in the Indus Valley visit the Shey Gompa, Thiksey Gompa, Hemis Gompa and the Alchi Gompa famous for beautiful Buddhist murals and paintings.
Trip details: Medium difficulty. 5 days.
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