As there has been an enormous number of tourists coming to Nepal since the 70s and tourism has shaped an important part of modern Nepali life, many people have come to learn and speak English and the closer we are to tourist hot-spots, the more likely it is that most people speak and understand English. This is particularly true for the younger generation and in places such as Pokhara and Thamel (Kathmandu), you will not need any Nepali to get by, however most locals appreciate foreigners efforts of learning the local language and interacting as their own; even a simple ‘Namaste’ (Peace / Hello) and ‘Dhanyebaad’ (Thank you) can often make you feel at home. Need not be worried about communications at all as our guides are fully fluent in English and they will be there to assist you with communication whenever you need.
For digital communications within Nepal, we can provide you with a sim card for the duration of your stay and you can use this to contact anyone within or outside the country (the credit for which can be bought with credit recharge cards from most shops in Nepal. There are also options for 3G mobile connections however they can end up being quite costly. All hotels in which you stay will have great WiFi access through which the best internet connections can be established.
It is important for foreign travelers to get insurance coverage while trekking in Nepal. Although Nepal is generally a very safe country, trekking is a physically challenging and sometimes dangerous activity, especially at high altitudes. Altitude sickness is common, particularly among foreign trekkers who may not have taken the proper time to acclimatize, and physical injury is possible out on the high trails. In case of such emergencies, foreign trekkers are rescued by helicopter and evacuated to hospitals in Kathmandu, possibly on to Thailand or Singapore should their condition be serious enough. These rescue operations and the subsequent medical treatments are expensive, and travelers will have to pay out of pocket for these treatments if they do not get insurance coverage.
There are various reasonably priced travel and medical insurance options available for different adventure activities in Nepal that will cover emergency rescues and medical assistance for policyholders. Insurance policies can cover just the time of the trip or an entire year, and some will cover altitudes up to 6,000 meters while others will cover high-altitude mountaineering. Foreigners planning to travel to Nepal must be sure to take out the right insurance policy for the activities they will be doing – factoring in altitude and remoteness. Some also choose to add more traditional components of travel insurance to their policy, such as coverage for lost luggage and cancelled flights.
Two companies best known for providing insurance coverage for international emergency rescues and/or medical assistance are:
one of the leading insurance companies in the world specializing in travel and adventure-tourism insurance. World Nomads covers people from over 150 countries and provides emergency rescue and medical assistance to its policyholders. They have experience working in Nepal and have policy options to cover travelers venturing to high altitudes.
popular among extreme athletes and adventurers, Global Rescue is a well-known health, safety, and risk management service provider. They have worked with NASA astronauts, National Geographic explorers and famous high-altitude mountaineers.
Additional well-known travel emergency and medical insurance providers include: AIG, JS Insurance, Bupa Global, IM Global, and STA Travel.
We may be able to give discounts for larger groups, depending on the season, size of group and trek choice. If you are looking to book for a large group, please feel free to contact us first about your inquiry and we can customize our packages to best fit your requirements.
National Parks and Conservation Areas:
Foreign trekkers need to obtain permits to enter all the national parks and conservation areas in Nepal. The fees collected from these permits are used to maintain and preserve those areas. Entry permits are not required for children below ten years of age to enter conservation areas or national parks.
A few trekking destinations are located in places that the Government of Nepal classifies as restricted areas. Foreign trekkers must obtain specific Restricted Area Permits (RAP) to enter these areas. The fees collected from RAPs are used for local community development and cultural preservation projects. Children below ten years old are not required to pay the Restricted Area Permit fees.
Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS):
Foreign trekkers are also required to register with the Trekkers’ Information Management System (known as TIMS) and purchase a TIMS card to enter most trekking areas. Managed by the Nepal Tourism Board and the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), TIMS is used to keep track of foreign visitors in Nepal and respond in case of emergencies. Foreign trekkers are not required to register with or purchase a TIMS card if they are acquiring a Restricted Area Permit. Children below ten years old are not required to pay the TIMS card fees.
Depending on your health requirements and the difficulty of your trek, you may need specific items such as walking poles and supports. A sleeping bag of upto -20C is recommended for all treks (unless stated otherwise), and you will need a set of standard trekking clothes hiking boots and comfortable clothing, with other optional items such as solar chargers, water bottles, etc. being at your own discretion.
Due to the popularity of trekking in Nepal, there are a large number of shops in all major Nepalese cities that will sell high quality trekking gear. We are able to aid you to find any item that you may need, depending on your trek requirements. The option also exists for you to rent the gear if you don’t want to buy any.
The Himalayan region is not only home to the world’s highest mountain range, but it has also consistently been a hotbed of cultural and religious activity. The flourishing of Hindu and particularly Buddhist culture occurred here and the positioning of northern India along the Silk Road has meant that this area has acted as a crossing to connect the far sides of Eurasia and onto Africa. Inevitably, this has allowed for highly diverse ethnic groups to form in the region, with 123 mother-tongue languages reported only in Nepal from over 130 different tribal castes.
Furthermore, Nepal’s diverse range of altitude means that peak view points in the country are second to none, but they are home to some of the most unique animals such as the Nepalese snow leopard, the Tibetan fox and wolf, the Bengal monitor, Indian elephant and rhinoceros, the red panda, the Danphe, Tibetan mastiffs, mountain goats and yaks.
Nepal’s vast water resources and peaks also allow for great adrenaline-packed adventures such as white water rafting, kayaking, paragliding, downhill mountain biking, bungee jumping, etc.
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
You will travel, trek and/or climb to extreme altitudes. Altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness: AMS) is a common risk that can be harmful or even life threate- ning if ignored. It can a ect anyone, even the young and physically t. Altitude sickness occurs when your body gains altitude too quickly and does not have eno- ugh time to acclimatize/adjust to the lower amounts of oxygen and changes in air pressure. Most altitude sickness is mild and self-limiting and fortunately most people eventually acclimatize to high altitudes. Initial symptoms of mild altitude sickness include: headaches, lethargy, insomnia, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Our guides will do their best to help eve- ryone with acclimatisation by planning a slow ascent over a period of days and to ensure everyone drinks plenty of water. Medications such as Diamox tablets do help with symptoms but ultimately, altitude sickness is treated by a rapid descent to a lower altitude
ELIMINATING ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
When taking on a challenge like hiking to Everest Base Camp, or any long trek/climb, you have to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint. Acclimatization to the low levels of oxygen in the mountains requires you to take your time, to slowly get your body used to lack of oxygen. All the research suggests, spending more time at 3,500m/ 11,500ft. So we spend 2 nights acclimatizing in Namche Bazaar. This is absolutely key to your success in the mountains. There is never a time on the trek where you should need to walk at a fast pace, you should only be walking at a pace that you can carry on a conversation with others, without feeling too much exertion physically. Obviously, there are tougher sections throughout the trek where you may need to stop talking and catch your breath, however you always want to try and keep your pace to a snail’s pace, not a rabbit’s! More acclimatization means a safer and more enjoyable trekking experience and no Acute Mountain Sickness!
SAFETY AND GENERAL INFORMATION
Snowyoda has done everything possible within the budget of the trip to ensure that our trips give you a rewarding and relatively safe experience. However you must acknowledge that adventure travel, treks, trek-climbs and expeditions all involve some degree of risk. The same elements that contribute to the adventure of trekking or climbing can also contribute to the loss or damage to gear, injury or illness to self, or in the extreme and unlikely case, can sometimes result in fatality.
When travelling within Nepal we believe there are risks that you should be aware of:
• We travel in local hired transport and as Nepal is still a developing country, cars and buses may be old and the roads are rough. The risk of accidents is lowered however as vehicles generally travel at relatively slow speeds.
• Domestic ights from Kathmandu to Lukla are in small 16-19 seats twin-engine propeller aircraft piloted by local pilots. The planes are well-maintained but ying to the airstrip is visual. For this reason pilots will not take off unless there is good clear weather, which could result in delays but we believe safety is more important. We will be travelling to the Sargamatha National Park when the skies are clear and the weather is warm and dry. From January to March, the Nepalese winter can make the airstrip icy. From May to August the monsoon makes the skies very cloudy and the airstrip wet.
• While trekking and climbing you should carry ade- quate water, sun protection and clothing appropriate to the conditions. We provide equipment lists and will answer any questions about gear that you may have prior to the trek and on the trail. We also inspect your equipment prior to leaving for the trek. Good quality equipment such as down jackets and alpine climbing equipment can be hired.
• You will be traversing rugged terrain: high mountain passes, snow and ice, wind exposed and rough trails, and crossing streams and rivers by rough bridges or slippery rocks. There is a low risk of falling, rock fall, landslides and collapsing bridges.
• Close contact with any wild and domestic animal including the yaks and horses that carry our bags on some treks should be minimized for your safety. Nepal has leopards and other animals however the risk of an incident is extremely low.
• Water should be puri ed or treated before drinking. This includes ALL tap water in cities, towns and villages, and all stream water. Cleaning your hands before eating and after toilet functions is important in preventing gastroenteritis.
• Western-standard hospital care is often not available although there are some professional clinics in Kathmandu . While trekking and travelling you may be several hours to several weeks from any medical facility. Helicopter rescue is available in Nepal and it is important that you are insured for this.
• Our guides will use their expertise and do everything in their power to maximise safety for the group, however trek participants are responsible for their own safety and must show consideration for the safety of other members at all times.
There are no required vaccinations to enter the country unless someone has travelled or lived in a country where yellow fever is prevalent – in which case travelers must show proof that they have been immunized. Otherwise, it is a good idea to look into and get the following vaccinations before coming to Nepal:
- Hepatitis A
- Other immunizations to consider getting: Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Influenza, Polio, Tuberculosis
- Malaria tablets are only necessary if travelers plan on spending long periods of time in the lowland Terai, not for short trips or for travel in Kathmandu, or Pokhara, and definitely not for treks in the mountains.
*All travelers should consult with their doctor on their specific health requirements and preparations to best prepare for their trip to Nepal. All foreign travelers should also take out insurance to cover their medical costs in case of an emergency evacuation and treatment.
In trekking areas outside of Kathmandu, there are few options for good medical care. The most popular trekking destinations in Nepal are fairly remote and medical facilities, especially good ones, are scarce in these areas. It is a good idea for foreign trekkers to carry a small medical kit with them while trekking or traveling outside of Kathmandu. This is a suggestion on the staples that any medical kit for trekking in the mountains should include, not a comprehensive list. Many of these can be purchased inexpensively in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Travel/trekking medical kits should include:
- Basic first aid supplies (bandages, sterile cleaners, gauze, tape, etc)
- Band-aids and blister care
- Paracetamol and aspirin for pain relief. Ibuprofen for pain and fever relief as well as anti-inflammation.
- Any prescription medicines that an individual is already taking
- Rehydration salts in case of diarrhea – Loperamide (Imodium) is useful as well for temporary relief of symptoms
- Antibiotics (like ciprofloxacin)
- Antifungal cream
- Cold tablets and nasal decongestant
- Diamox – especially for treks above 3,500 meters
Each trek or hike that we host have their own specific challenges; some may be cold, some may be at high altitude, and some may be for a long duration. As a result, depending on your trekking experience, choice and the time of the year, the difficulty of treks can vary. In each trek listing on our site, we have specified the details of each trek and their relative difficulty. We recommend that you read through the details to find out one that suits your requirements and level of fitness.
Depending on the day in the trek and the target that we need to reach, the amount walked will differ. Sometimes we will have a big altitude ascend and therefore will not cover a very long horizontal distance, and other times when the slopes allow, we will walk for longer. On average, walking will be split in morning and afternoon sessions taking a total of between 5 to 8 hours a day and in order to have a safe and comfortable Tea House lodge, we will need to cover this distance and reach our daily targets. On some treks, some days will be spent accustomizing to high altitudes and during these days, we may walk next to nothing or within short distance from the camp site. Overall, it is best if you check the specific treks as the details itineraries for each adventure explain the time it takes for them.
All hostels and hotels that we host our guests in are minimum 3-stars (unless specified otherwise by you prior to your trip). These facilities will include breakfast, showers, electricity for recharging electronic equipment (although it may be affected due to Nepal’s major electricity problems) and Wi-Fi internet connectivity. During treks, stays mostly happen in Tea Houses and lodges which are comfortable homely and often private (dependant on availability, especially at higher altitudes) shelters where you can enjoy the warmth, food and reenergize in your treks. If your specific trek specifies that there will be nights spent in tents, we will take care of this equipment and we ensure that they will be of the highest quality.
All our tours include the following in the packages:
– All transportation including airport pick-up and drop-off and excluding international air fare
– All meals during the trek (3 meals a day including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
– All necessary paperwork and permits needed for treks
– All accommodation during the package period
– All government and local taxes
– Trekking guide for the duration of the package period.
– Porter (if needed for the specific trek)
Our prices do not include any other cost that is not mentioned above such as your international fare or insurance, however add-ons that we can arrange for you specifically include adventure tours and trekking gear.
In case of any minor incident which may affect the trekker’s health, our guides who are certified in first aid will be able to take guaranteed care of you. In case the emergency is more urgent and immediate professional health is needed, we are prepared to call for an emergency evacuation (helicopter if needed). Regardless of the type of injury, the travellers MUST be insured through their own means and at their country of origin BEFORE going on a trek. We will be able to cover the cost of emergency rescue immediately if needed until the insurance company delivers its payment.
Due to the major differences in altitude in Nepal (from 80m in the south to +8000m in the north), weather conditions partly depend on the specific place you will be visiting. Naturally, the mountain treks at higher altitude will be cooler than lower ones. On the other hand, Nepal has a few distinct seasons within a year which affect the weather almost uniformly across the country:
June – August:
Known as the Monsoon season, in the summer months, the equatorial heat evaporates water from the Indian Ocean and air currents carry this moist air to the Indian Subcontinent. As the clouds get trapped behind the giant Himalayan wall, they cause regular heavy rain across Nepal, making the rural roads difficult to access and the general trekking experience very wet and difficult. For this reason, it is preferable that treks don’t happen in this season (unless specified otherwise).
September – November:
This is the main tourist season in Nepal as the cooled air recovers from the summer and allows the pouring of significantly less rain, a nice balance of warm days and pleasantly cool evenings. While some trekking routes may be more busy in this season due to the high influx of tourists, many cultural and alternative activities can be enjoyed, i.e. Dashain, Nepal’s longest and most auspicious festival in late September / early October and Tihar, the Hindu and widely celebrated festival of lights in late October / early November.
December – February:
The winter season in Nepal is the driest and coldest across the board, with high altitude conditions for trekking becoming icy and highly difficult, hence why these months are less popular among tourists. You are most likely to see Thamel in Kathmandu quiet in these months and will require adequate clothing to be comfortable. There are a few local and international festivals that keep Nepali hearts warm in this season and can be celebrated; Christmas Day (markets in Kathmandu and Pokhara), Losar (Tibetan new year) and the Gregorian New Year.
March – May:
After the winter cold has started to disperse, Nepal’s flora and fauna come back to life with more moderate temperatures, giving way to pleasant trekking and touring weather. This is another peak season for travelling and can be equally enjoyed in the cities and in the hills and mountains. Amongst festivals happening in this time are the mystical Shivaratri festival (celebration of Lord Shiva) and the vibrantly colourful Holi festival (the festival of colours) in March, the Nepali new year in April and the Buddha’s birthday in May.
For anyone who is not an Indian or Nepali citizen, visas are needed to enter Nepal and they can be obtained at the entry points to the country (Tribhuvan International Airport or the Indian Border road-crossings), or at a Nepali embassy at your home country. Tourists are allowed to stay in Nepal for 150 days within a calendar year, and visas can be obtained as multi-entry 15 days ($25), 30 days ($40) or 90 days ($90) instalments. For this a passport with six months validity remaining and at least one blank page is needed, as well as a photograph.
For all foreign nationals entering India (except Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives citizens) need a visa to enter India. Depending on the country of origin, the visa may be attainable from a local Indian embassy or through an e-Tourist online visa application. The visa fees vary depending on the type and duration of visit, and processing fees determined by the out-sourcing agency. After successful submission of the application, the visa will take a minimum of 3 working days to be issued.
Foreigners must have a visa to travel in Nepal. To obtain a tourist visa for Nepal, foreigners must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the proposed date of entry. Depending on their nationality, foreigners can obtain a visa prior to arriving in Nepal at a Nepalese embassy abroad or on arrival at the following points of entry:
- Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu (by air)
- Kakarvitta, Jhapa District, Eastern Nepal (by road)
- Birgunj, Parsa District, Central Nepal, (by road)
- Kodari, Sindhupalchowk District, Northern Border (by road, for group tourists only)
- Belahia, Bhairahawa, Rupandehi District, Western Nepal (by road)
- Jamunaha, Nepalgunj, Banke District, Mid-Western Nepal (by road)
- Mohana, Dhangadhi, Kailali District, Far Western Nepal (by road)
- Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur District, Far Western Nepal (by road)
Below we list the options for obtaining tourist visas for Nepal:
No Visa Required
Nepal maintains an open border with India, and therefore does not require Indian nationals to obtain a visa. However, Indian nationals should travel with a valid ID, which is required for those arriving by air. To be specific for Indians , they can get through their normal Passport or Voters ID Card. ( Please note that Adhaar Card or a drivers license are not valid documents to travel to Nepal for Indians )
Visa Before Arrival Required
Foreign nationals from the following countries are not eligible for visas on arrival and must obtain visas from Nepalese embassies abroad prior to arriving in Nepal:
Visa On Arrival
Foreign nationals from all other countries have the option of obtaining a visa from a Nepalese embassy abroad prior to arriving or on arrival.
SAARC countries: and Chinese Nationals:
Foreign nationals from SAARC countries other than India are granted a gratis visa for up to 30 days for their first trip of that year. This applies to Chinese nationals as of January 2016.
All other nationalities:
Foreigners from all other countries are required to pay the corresponding fees to obtain their visas.
Types of Tourist Visas
Foreign travelers in Nepal can get the following tourist visas:
- 15-days multiple entry visa – US $25
- 30-days multiple entry visa – US $40
- 90-days multiple entry visa – US $100
Visas for 15 and 30 days are only for single entry. To change 15-day or 30-day single entry visas into multiple entry visas, foreigners must pay and additional $20 fee. The 90-day visas include multiple entry status. Foreigners who are in Nepal on a tourist visa are not allowed to stay more than 150 days in a visa year (January-December). Visa fees are not charged for children under 10.
Visas must be paid in cash. In Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal’s main international airport, foreigners can pay visa fees in major currencies (EU, USD, GBP) or in Nepalese Rupees. There is an ATM inside the customs and immigration section of Tribhuvan International Airport as well as a money exchange counter. At land borders visa fee payments are usually expected in USD.
Visa extensions are available for tourist visas:
- 15-day extension – US $30
- Extension over 15 days (up to 30 days) – US $2/day
- Extension for more than 30 days – US $50
To extend their visas foreigners have the option of completing the entire process at the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or the Immigration Office in Pokhara, or of completing the application form online (http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/) and then bringing a copy of the form with them to those offices. Foreigners must bring their passports (showing their Nepal tourist visas) with them to receive an extension. Extensions can be paid in USD or Nepalese Rupees. Extension fees are not charged for children under 10.
Kathmandu: The Department of Immigration Office is on Kalika Marg, Kathmandu 44600. They can be reached at 984-3545431
Pokhara: The Immigration Office is located in Sahid Chowk, Pokhara. The office can be reached at 061-465167.
Overstaying Tourist Visas
Overstaying a tourist visa can be a serious problem, so it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible. Foreigners who overstay their tourist visa less than 30 days are charged a penalty fine of US $3/day as well as an additional extension fee of $2/day. These fees must be paid the Department of Immigration office in Kathmandu, not at Tribhuvan International Airport.
The best way for foreign travelers to avoid this problem however is simply to not overstay their visa. The fines mentioned above, heavier fines if the tourist overstayed beyond 30 days, and arrest are possible consequences.