As a solo trekker, I try to cover as many routes as possible in a year. I’ve explored many of Himalayas best trails, at times in a group, at times by myself. Yet, the famed Valley of Flowers trek remained unattempted until this year. This tour with Thrillophilia helped me strike it off my bucket list. In June of this year, egged on by some of the positive Thrillophilia Facebook reviews, I decided to take the Haridwar-to-Haridwar Valley of Flowers trek.
The trek attracted me especially because it spanned across 6 days and 5 nights, which meant there was no extreme trekking or short stops involved. There were 8 of us in the group in total, and together with our trek leader, we formed quite the spectacular team! Our trek actually began with a drive. The group assembled at a pre-decided location in Haridwar early in the morning, and drove onward to Govindnath, which is the official starting point of the trek.
The drive itself takes 10 hours to complete, and passes through some spectacular views that forms the befitting preface for the stunning trek to follow. We crossed the Devprayag and saw the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi flowing into the Ganga. Our road also cuts through Joshimath, which is a prominent pilgrimage site in the Himalayas.
That night, we camped at Govindnath for the night. Early next morning, we took a quick meal and drove to Poolna from whereon began the first phase of our trek. The first half of the trek led us through untarnished Himalayan forests, with the Lakshman Ganga floating alongside. While spotting wildlife is rare, birdwatchers should keep an eye out to catch the occasional bird or two.
After a 6 hour trek, we then reached Ghangaria, which was our stop for the night. On the third day, we took the main ascent up to the Valley of Flowers. A steep six hour hike led us to the Valley, which nestles at a height of over 3,500 feet above the sea. Those that have never witnessed the valley will probably never be able to imagine its full beauty. Acres and acres of fields blanketed in bright blue, purple and yellow flowers appear to stretch as far as the horizon. Our tour guide took his time showing us the different flowers that grew around the valley- the zinnias, the petunias, the daisies, geraniums and even the very rare bright blue Primula.
The Thrillophilia reviews had recommended monsoon as the best time to visit, and the resulting effects were indeed quite spectacular. There was a little hidden lake as well, where I had a great time taking photographs. Although the group wanted to spend a fair bit of time there, we had to make a quick return in order to return to the campsite before nightfall.
Having finished with the main highlight of the tour package, the next day we then embarked on an excursion to Hemkund Sahib. Legend has it that Guru Govind Singh Sahib had meditated in this very spot in his previous life. Now, a famed Gurudwara stands here, at an elevation of more than 4,600 feet above the sea. The trek to Hemkund Sahib proved to be quite steep, and I had to use my walking stick along the way.
Once there, we paid a visit to the Gurudwara and also spent some time by the Hemkund Lake just behind it. Back at the campsite that day, we had dinner under the open sky, which stands out as another major highlight for me on the trip. The next day onward, we began our journey back to Haridwar.
The slope downward was fairly easy to navigate. Once back in Ghangaria, some of us in the group decided to take a short detour to Auli, a nearby hill station, and stayed overnight in Ghangaria before finally making our way back. True to the Thrillophilia reviews, the entire team and support staff made my first trek to the Valley just as memorable as I had hoped. The best part of the tour package was that no part of the journey had to be fretted over. The accommodation was all taken care of, with hotel-stays at two different locations.
All meals were arranged as well, as we received hot plates of freshly prepared vegetarian food thrice each day of the tour. Morning tea and snacks were provided as well. The staff proved to be extremely effective in offering moral support for the novice trekkers in our group: our trek leader was always ready to guide anyone, and first aid necessities, including oxygen tanks and oximeters were always kept at hand should anyone have needed them.
The support team that accompanied us throughout the trek included a group of cooks, porters and helpers, who made sure that all aspects of the trek was as hassle free as possible. Moreover, all required COVID precautions were taken care of by everyone involved in the tour as well, which made us feel even safer. The Valley of Flowers trek turned out to be one of the best ones I’ve taken so far. I can’t wait for my next experience with this team!