As of 31 March 2023, anyone wishing to travel to Nepal and trek will be required to use a travel agency/approved guide service and obtain a TIMS card in order to obtain a permit from the Nepalese government. The fees for obtaining TIMS cards have also been reviewed. For more information, it is recommended to visit the websites of the Nepal Tourism Board and the Nepal Tourism Police.
In all cases, we always send a guide with you for safety purposes and so that you can follow the best possible trail during your trek.
To trek in Nepal, you’ll need to go through a travel agency with a trekking license. For trekking in general, the travel agency will have to fill in a Tims card (Trekking Informations Management System) with the information of the trekker, you. These cards are subject to a fee, and certain permits are also required, depending on the trekking zone chosen. The travel agency will need to fill in the Acap (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) if you’ll be trekking in this area, for example, or Mcap for the Manaslu Conservation Area Project.
To use these permits, simply send a copy of your passport to the travel agency, so that it can fill in all the necessary information.
Depending on the trekking itinerary you are going to do during your stay in Nepal, you will need to apply for certain permits specific to the trekking area.
Indeed, there are different permits such as ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project), MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project) or GCAP (Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project).
You will also need to have the TIMS card to be able to do your trekking. Indeed, this card (Trekkers’ Information Management System) will be compulsory because it helps Trekker to ensure the safety and security during Trekking in Himalayas
Some trekking areas are subject to special permits. In fact, you will need a special permit for the following areas: Humla, Dolpo, Upper Mustang, Tsu Valley, etc. Entry into these restrictive areas may have different prices. For example, in order to trek in Upper Mustang, you will have to pay $500 for a 10 day permit and $50 for each additional day. However, you don’t have to get the permit yourself, as it is the travel agencies with a trekking license that will have to take care of it.
Note: this kind of special permit requires at least two trekkers and must be arranged with an original passport and two passport size photos.
To trek during your stay in Nepal, you’ll need to be prepared:
- If you’re not really experienced, or even if you are, don’t hesitate to train before the trek.
- In terms of clothing, you’ll need good shoes, warm clothes according to the season, and a sleeping bag for the nights, but don’t pack too much.
- Find out about the altitude and the problems you may encounter, such as altitude sickness. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor before your trip to get a check-up and see if you have any health problems that could potentially worsen during the trek.
- Taking items such as filterable water bottles can be a good idea.
- As far as permits are concerned, you won’t need to worry about them; the guides will already have all the necessary documents
You can of course trek with children. It will just depend on the type of trekking and if the children are able to walk several hours. You can also go hiking, Nepal is full of places to visit.
A trekking guide will accompany you throughout your trek, to walk, to sleep and to eat. It also allows a certain safety and it is obligatory during trekking to have a guide with you. The cultural guide as for him/her, will make you visit certain historical places as for example in Kathmandu. His role will be to inform you about the history of the places, and to allow you to understand the beautiful Nepalese culture.
To ensure you have the best possible trek during your stay in Nepal, a briefing is essential. Your trekking guide will come to meet you one day before departure for the trek at the hotel where you will be staying. The briefing generally takes place at the end of the day, around 5pm. He will give you a description of the trail and all the important information you need to make the trek a success and will also take you directly to your hotel for the starting day trek.
The standard of hotels in Nepal is relatively the same as in the western countries. The only difference is that there is a problem of undrinkable water everywhere in the country, so it is not recommended to drink tap water or brush your teeth with it. However, you will be able to find drinking water jars where you can fill your water bottle.
If you use a travel agency to organize your trip to Nepal, then the hotels will be booked directly by the agency. However, you’ll have to pay for extras out of your own pocket.
Note: You’ll be able to pay with your Visa card in hotels in Nepal, but some of them only use cash, such as community homestays and some standard hotels. It is therefore very important to always have cash with you, as payments are generally made by cash.
There are different types of accommodation in Nepal, such as Homestays or Community Homestays.
Homestays allow you to stay with a local. Community homestays allow you to live in the home of a local/community for a given period (1/2/3 days) and experience the Nepalese way of life. Not only will you sleep with the locals, but you’ll also participate in daily life, such as preparing meals. They can also show you their culture, accompany you to their village and show you around, do different activities with them, etc. Don’t expect anything luxurious, of course.
This way of traveling in Nepal is really very interesting, as it will allow you to see the real Nepal and above all to contribute to its development and help the local population.
A teahouse is a place where you can stay during your trek. These small guesthouses are run by local families. You will also find a bathroom (often shared) and breakfast is included.
Local buses or tourist buses can be an alternative way to travel in Nepal or simply to get around Kathmandu. However, it may be difficult for you without a tour guide or if you don’t know Nepali people to get around, but you can always find someone to help you, as the locals are very helpful.
Traveling by bus in Nepal can also be an adventure in the sense that most of the time the buses are rather old, there is not necessarily air conditioning and the roads are often under construction. You will have a hectic journey but this can be part of the Nepalese experience.
Local buses are more rustic and less expensive, while tourist buses have air conditioning, are more spacious and allow for longer trips. However, the road is the same so it is likely that your trip will be hectic in both cases.
The functioning of taxis in Nepal is quite the same as in the western countries. Indeed, you will be able to present yourself in front of any cab so that it can take you where you wish. Most of the time, they see if you need a cab or not and come directly to you. However, if you are a tourist, they will charge you more in terms of transportation costs so try not to get too caught up. Example: a trip from the airport to the center of Kathmandu (Thamel district) should cost you about 400 Nepalese rupees for a 30min ride.
Do not hesitate to use local applications such as “Indrive” or “Pathao” which will allow you to order a cab directly via your phone and especially not to pay excessive rates.
Domestic flights in Nepal are notoriously unsafe. Indeed, the safety problem arises from the altitude, with airstrips located in the mountains, but also from the recurrent weather changes in Nepal.
Nevertheless, it remains a very practical means of transport, given the long car and bus journeys. Indeed, even though Nepal is a small country, journeys can be quite long, as the roads are virtually nothing but curves in the mountains.
Flying is therefore a great way to avoid spending too much time on the road and make the most of your trip. It’s also a great way to get to the starting points of treks quickly.
Although domestic flights are notoriously dangerous, accidents are rare.
No matter what type of transportation you take on your trip to Nepal, it is important to know that the roads are quite broken. The trip is quite bumpy, so it may be better to rent a car for a less hectic trip.
Tihar is one of the most important festivals in Nepal. It takes place over 5 days in October/November. The main aim of the festival is to celebrate life and the deities and here’s an example of one of the celebrations during Tihar:
Mah puja: Mha puja is celebrated on the fourth day of Tihar. On this day Mha puja and New year are celebrated by the newari community of Nepal. Mha Puja means “worship of the self” in Newari, and it celebrates the spirit within oneself. In this festival people make a mandala in the ground for each member and two extra mandalas are drawn at the end of the row for the two messengers of death. Members of the family, first males followed by females, sit cross- legged in a row and older females play the role of facilitators for each member. Mha puja offers a variety of food such as fruits, nuts, and sweets which symbolize a wish for a fruitful and resourceful life. Every member of the family sits in front of their mandala and worships together step by step. The items used to adorn the mandala symbolize good fortune, long life and freedom from perils.
Holi is the festival of colors which is celebrated by Hindus. It is a joyful occasion where people come together to play with water and bright colours. The motive of holi is washing away sorrows and sadness, filling lives with colors and happiness. In Nepal, Holi is celebrated over two days. The first day is observed by people from hilly and mountainous regions, while the next day is dedicated to those from the Terai. As Holi approaches, the air becomes filled with excitement. Children and teenagers eagerly start playing Holi two weeks before the actual festival, engaging in water balloon fights and using water guns. Additionally, numerous DJ sessions and Holi events take place in restaurants and resorts. People relish the celebrations, immersing themselves in colors, water, dancing, and enjoying the festivities with a refreshing cold beer in hand. Holi is also an occasion for family reunions, where loved ones and friends are invited to homes to celebrate together.
Indra jatra (fall):
There are various jatras in Nepal, and one of the most eagerly awaited is the Indra jatra. It represents the celebration of Indra, the god of rain, and the Nepalese go to worship him to thank him for the monsoon and for bringing the dead to heaven.
The festival lasts for 8 days, and various “events” take place, such as the celebration of the dead with incense and candles, the procession of the goddess Kumari, and so on. It’s also possible to see huge Bhairava masks with local beer, which the Nepalese drink to bring them happiness, love and prosperity.
Indra jatra is a very important event for the Nepalese. Dances and chariot demonstrations are the order of the day.
You will be able to bring things for the children or in the community homestays during your trip to Nepal. For example, you can bring chocolate, candy, balloons, etc. As far as money is concerned, it would be better to make donations to schools or NGOs. Otherwise you can also give books that you can buy in Kathmandu which also supports the local people, food from your country, and also tips.
There are many places where you can make donations, such as schools, NGOs and associations.
We can suggest some places for you to make donations, so that you can be sure where your donations are going.
Volunteering during your trip to Nepal is entirely possible. However, we do not encourage humanitarian trips to schools or orphanages. If you don’t have the right skills and this “help” is only for a limited time, it could have a negative impact on the people concerned, or even make the situation worse. It’s important to remember that certain problems in countries like Nepal need to be dealt with by qualified professionals.
We can therefore offer you other alternatives where you can participate in voluntary action while having a positive impact. For example, there is an NGO in Chitwan, SU4E (Stand up for elephants), which offers some afternoons to go and meet two elephants, Eva and Lhamo, rescued and cared for by professionals, and where you can make donations. If you need more information, don’t hesitate to visit the NGO website: https://www.su4e.org/meet-our-elephants
There are many NGOs of this type, which could be a good alternative if you want to make a positive impact during your trip. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you’re interested and if you need any further information.