Nepal is a country with landscapes that contrast between the world’s highest mountains and tropical savannahs, so good travel preparation is essential. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions by travelers, so you can start preparing your trip without any worries!
WHO PREPARED THIS TOUR?
The tours available on this site are the result of years of preparation on the ground, both from expeditions with previous groups and from other projects carried out on site and reconnaissance trips, in a joint effort between myself and the teams assisting on site.
I started leading trips to Nepal in 2018, and before that I volunteered in two associations and collaborated with two other NGOs, one in Kathmandu and one in Chitwan.
The trip is prepared not only by me, but together with all these people, and based not only on our personal experience, but also on feedback and requests from past and future travelers.
The start dates of the trips you see on the website are already at the destination, so you should consider flights that arrive at the final destination before the start date of the itinerary.
Check the limits (size and weight) of your hold and hand luggage carefully.
DO I NEED A VISA?
Yes, you need a visa to visit Nepal. The visa must be done online at online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa, and costs 30 USD (for 15 days).
Here is a list of the documentation required to apply for a visa and to arrive in Nepal:
- Fill in the visa application form online, and print out a copy.
- Passport valid for 6 months after the date of travel and with two free pages
- Copy of passport
- 1 passport photo with a white background (but take more photos with you as they may be needed for other bureaucracies during your trip).
- Address of stay in Nepal (this information will be sent to you two weeks before the start of the trip).
- Proof of flight booking in and out of Nepal.
- Proof of financial subsistence (this can be a bank statement for the last 3 months).
- Proof of payment of the visa fee online, printed.
WHAT KIND OF LUGGAGE SHOULD I TAKE?
On this trip it’s important that you only wear backpacks, not trolleys / suitcases. You should bring two backpacks: a small one, which should be big enough to carry everything you need for the days we’ll be trekking in Annapurna (the rest of our things stayed in Pokhara during the trekking days), and which should be waterproof, light and suitable for trekking.
Example: a 15l to 26l backpack as a small backpack, and a 36l to 45l backpack as a large backpack.
When the trip is confirmed, you’ll receive a traveler’s manual tailored to this specific trip, with tips and instructions on how to pack, what to take, weight, etc.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
For trekking in Annapurna (when you should only take your small backpack):
- Downjacket or waterproof, light and breathable jacket; (if you don’t have one, you can buy it cheaper or rent it in Pokhara);
- 1 pair of trekking snow pants (not snowboard pants!);
- 2 pairs of inlayers (pants + shirt);
- Gloves suitable for very low temperatures;
- 1 merino wool sweater or breathable technical sweater with long sleeves;
- 2 technical t-shirts;
- 1 sweater or fleece jacket.
- 4 changes of underwear and socks, in cotton or merino wool;
- 1 balaclava;
- 1 cap;
- Quick-drying towel;
- Waterproof boots and clothing suitable for trekking and slippers for the accommodation.
For the rest of your trip:
- Lightweight and breathable hiking clothing;
- 2 or 3 changes of mid-season / winter clothes;
- Comfortable and breathable footwear for areas with higher temperatures, ideally trekking sandals.
CASH OR CARD?
The official currency in Nepal is the Nepalese rupee, and at the moment €1 = 144Rs (Nepalese rupee – Rs, NPR or रु॰). You can follow the most up-to-date conversion factor on xe.com.
When you travel to Nepal, it’s best to bring a few dollars (USD) with you and a card for ATM withdrawals. The cheapest and most practical way is to bring a prepaid Revolut card with you. Debit and/or credit cards are generally not accepted for payments in stores, only for withdrawals. ATMs are plentiful, but they charge a withdrawal fee (around 500Rs per withdrawal).
Currency exchange offices are also very common, where you can exchange your euros or dollars for Nepalese rupees.
At the end of your trip, you should exchange the Nepalese rupees left over back into euros or dollars, as this currency is not accepted anywhere else in the world.
Nepal’s international code is +977. Some of the Portuguese operators offer roaming but at very high prices, so it’s advisable to find out about the tariffs and conditions of your tariff before activating roaming.
You can buy a local SIM card for around €6 with around 20Gbs of data, so you can make your communications to Portugal using WhatsApp, for example – this requires a passport, two passport photos and filling in a form.
WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?
Nepali food is usually based on three dishes: fried rice, noodles and momos (dumplings). From here, it unfolds in countless variants. The most common dishes are vegetarian, with chicken or buffalo meat. They can be fried, steamed or in soups.
Spicy is very popular in Nepal, but if you’re intolerant or spicy isn’t your taste, you can always ask for no spicy, or get advice on which dishes are less spicy.
The breakfasts included are almost always continental.
WHAT IF I HAVE A DIET / FOOD RESTRICTION?
It is important that you inform us in good time if you have any specific diet or food restrictions, especially if this results in any reactions. We try our best to meet your needs – you should be aware, however, that due to a lack of resources, these alternatives can be quite limited.
SHOULD I INFORM YOU IF I HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OR CHRONIC ILLNESSES?
It is essential that you let us know if there may be any restrictions and how we can adapt so that you have the best possible experience.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE TREKKING IN ANNAPURNA?
Trekking isn’t very difficult, but if your physical condition isn’t the best, or if you’re not used to doing this type of activity, or if you’ve never been to altitude (above 2500m), you may experience some difficulties. We are accompanied by a local guide who is an expert in trekking in these regions, so if for some reason you have to go down, the trip leader will go down with you and the guide will go with the group.
In the event that you don’t want to or can’t do the trek, you can follow the route by jeep or local transport for an additional fee (not included in the price of the experience).
HOW ARE THE JOURNEYS MADE WITHIN THE ITINERARY?
Throughout the trip, travel between towns will be by local bus, except in Annapurna where we will use private jeeps to get down from the mountain.
WHAT IS ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN NEPAL?
Accommodation varies from comfortable hotels to tree huts. All are comfortable and include breakfast. The rooms are twin or triple, single if you have booked a supplement. For the sake of comfort, we suggest that you bring an individual sheet for your sleeping bag for the mountain lodgings (we won’t be sleeping in sleeping bags, but this sheet makes sleeping more comfortable).
WHAT ARE THE TOILETS LIKE?
All accommodations have private bathrooms, except in Chitwan, where some rooms will only have access to shared showers.
CULTURAL HABITS – WHAT IS AND ISN’T ACCEPTED?
As in any country, you need good manners to stay in the good graces of the local people. Various religions are practiced in these countries, and it should be noted that the politics are quite different from ours. We can’t stress enough that respecting a people and its laws doesn’t necessarily mean that we agree with them!
Here’s a list of behaviors you should adopt in order to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships with the people you meet:
- When you greet someone, you should say “namaste”, with your palms together in front of you (like someone praying). If you want to formalize it, you should add the sound “ji” to the end of the name, for example “Namaste Tânia-ji”.
- When in temples, you should always walk clockwise, not anticlockwise.
- “No” and “yes” are different in Nepal: to agree (“yes”), shake your head slightly to the side. If you don’t agree, put one hand in front of your body, and pick it up as if you were rattling a bracelet or nodding “so-so” – this is a “no” in Nepal.
- When handling money, you should hold out your right hand, with the money and palm facing upwards, and your left hand supporting your right arm by the elbow – valuables are treated with respect here.
- Do not touch food with your left hand. Don’t use your index finger to point or waveInstead, indicate with your hand, fingers together and extended, palm facing upDon’t touch people’s heads.
- You should take your shoes off when entering private property and temples. As a rule, this rule extends to accommodation.
- Men should always wear a shirt (or sweater) and pants – never shorts. Despite this rule, in Kathmandu and Chitwan, when the temperatures are higher, the exception is made for foreigners.
- Women should wear saris or long skirts, but pants are also popular. There are already women who wear shorts and short skirts, but in the respect of Nepali culture, long garments are more popular.
- Both men and women want to look clean and groomed. Sloppiness is not welcome in Nepal.
- It is common for Nepalese men to walk hand in hand, but it is not common for couples to show affection in public (of any orientation). Nepalese women are not used to physical contact with men, even if it’s just a handshake.
- In Hindu temples, if you are allowed to be present, you must not take photographs. Items made of fur are not allowed, and it’s a good idea to leave a few coins in the donations box.
- Beggars, children and scams: Nepal is becoming an increasingly elusive place, especially closer to India. Be persistent in saying no, and never accept or donate money to any of these scams. Be assertive when you say “no”, walk forward and smile 🙂
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE IN MY BACKPACK?
In addition to the list of clothes and shoes mentioned above, take a notepad for your travel notes, batteries for your camera, a triple plug so you can charge several things at the same time (the sockets are the same as in Portugal), a quick-drying towel, chronic medication and a basic traveler’s pharmacy, and of course, a good mood and a spirit of adventure!
- Sunscreen 50+
- Polarized sunglasses
- Chronic medication, mountain sickness prevention medication (traveler’s consultation) and insect repellent.
- A triple plug or extension cord
- Memory cards and batteries for your camera
- Canteen for water
- Blindfold and earplugs
- Luggage rack
- Biodegradable toilet paper and wipes
- Personal hygiene products;
- Ultra-light trekking poles (optional – you can rent them in Pokhara)
NOTE: As Nepal is a mountain trekking destination par excellence, it is very easy to rent / buy suitable equipment for the activities. There is plenty of time during the trip to make the purchases necessary for the success of the activities.
And don’t forget:
- Your passport (valid for more than 6 months and 2 blank pages)
- Two passport photos + 30USD in cash for the visa
- Four passport photos for the documents and permits required for trekking in Annapurna
- A passport photo for the SIM card
November marks the end of autumn in Nepal, and temperatures begin to drop. At the beginning of winter, the first snow begins in the highlands, but it’s still an excellent time for trekking. In Chitwan, the drier climate also helps with jungle walks.
Average temperatures at this time of year: Kathmandu 15ºC, Annapurna 8ºC (drops substantially at night) and Chitwan 20ºC. However, and especially due to the consequences we are all feeling from global warming, these figures could be quite different.
I’M TRAVELING ALONE – SHOULD I BOOK WITH A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT?
When you travel alone with us, you don’t have to book with a single supplement! You will always share your accommodation with colleagues in the group.
HOW DO I EXTEND MY STAY IN NEPAL OR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?
If you extend your trip, schedule a free online meeting(at this link) to help you organize the continuation of your trip.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
Throughout your trip you will be in constant contact with nature and wild animals, so extra precautions are needed to minimize your impact on it. Here are some recommendations that we hope you’ll follow to the letter!
- You’re in one of the most seismically active countries in the world, home to eight of the world’s ten highest peaks. The sanitation here is not (at all) spectacular, so we ask you to be extra careful with the products you use and the waste you produce. It favors the use of hygiene products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
- Never flush toilet paper, pads, tampons, dental floss or anything else down the toilet! ALWAYS use the garbage can.
- We also suggest that ladies use a menstrual cup or panties instead of conventional disposable hygiene products, which are highly polluting and impractical on these trips.
TO READ, SEE AND HEAR
There are lots of things you can learn about a country through its literature, music, cinema or any other art. Here are some suggestions:
BOOK | Siddhartha, 1922
Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, was born in India in the 6th century BC. He spent his childhood and youth isolated from the miseries of the world, enjoying a calm and contemplative existence. At a certain point, however, he gave up his luxurious, sheltered life and set off on a pilgrimage across the country, where poverty and suffering were the norm. On his long existential journey, Siddhartha experiences everything, enjoying both the wonders of sex and absolute fasting. Between intense pleasures and extreme privations, he ends up discovering “the middle way”, freeing himself from the appeals of the senses and finding inner peace. In pages of rare beauty, Siddhartha describes sensations and impressions like rarely before. To read it is to let yourself flow like the river where Siddhartha learns that the important thing is to know how to listen perfectly.
FILM | Kundun, 1997
In 1933, the thirteenth Dalai Lama died. Four years later, in a remote area of Tibet, a two-year-old boy was found who was identified as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the “Buddha of Compassion”. Two years later, the boy was taken to Lhasa, where he was educated as a monk and prepared to become a head of state. When he is 14, he starts to face problems with China, which wants to take over Tibet.
FILM | Seven Years in Tibet, 1997
Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt), Austria’s most famous mountaineer, attempted something almost impossible: to climb Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest peak in the world. Self-centered and aiming only for personal glory, Heinrich traveled to the other side of the world, leaving his pregnant wife and a marriage in crisis. He didn’t manage it, but when England declared war on Germany he was considered an enemy because he was in English territory. Taken prisoner of war, he escaped after several attempts together with Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), another climber, becoming the only foreigners in the sacred city of Lhasa, Tibet. Heinrich’s life would change radically there, as during his time in Tibet he became a generous person and confidant of the Dalai Lama.
BOOK | Annapurna : The first summit over 8,000 meters conquered by man, 1951
This book is considered one of the greatest classics of mountaineering literature, and is perhaps the most influential climbing book ever written. In all, the book has sold more than 11 million copies and is still considered to be the best-selling work on mountaineering, which scholars consider to be the most successful of all time.
BOOK | Seven Years in Tibet, 1952
This book, which is now a classic, tells us about the extraordinary experience of a man who managed to penetrate to the very depths of the soul of Tibet and its people.
BOOK | Beyond Seven Years In Tibet: My Life Before, During And After, 2007
Heinrich Harrer, traveler, explorer and mountaineer led one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century. This biography describes all his adventures, from the early days of climbing in the Alps, through his time in Tibet, to his expeditions including exploring the Congo with the King of Belgium and travels to remote parts.
FILM | Highway to Dhampus, 2014
Highway to Dhampus is the first feature-length film shot almost entirely in Nepal by an American crew. The film features many of Nepal’s cultural highlights and will be the debut for a handful of Nepalese actors to an American audience. When Laxmi, headmistress of a small orphanage in Nepal, is visited by a rich socialite (London native, Rachel Hurd-Wood) attempting to fix her image through charitable acts, a chain of events is set in motion that affects everyone involved. Ajit, the western-savvy bush pilot, Colt, the American photojournalist and chaperone, and even Elizabeth, the spoiled British heiress, all discover their own reasons to ultimately change for the better. The story raises questions about our motives, international philanthropy and the sometimes unintended consequences when disparate worlds collide.
FILM | Sherpa, 2015
In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of the world in an act that symbolized optimism about cooperation and human courage. Sixty years later, a complicated confrontation at the top of the mountain between Western climbers and a crowd of angry Sherpas gains special attention with a global news story. The documentary follows a climb up Everest from the Sherpas’ perspective for the first time. Through his eyes, you experience the politics and pressure of climbing the mountain and explore the tensions that resulted in the famous 23,000-foot fight.