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Nepal

Ker & Downey offers the finest, most complete adventure programs in Nepal. Our programs enable you to experience all aspects of this wonderful and exciting country. The following information has been prepared to help you get the most from your trip to Nepal by providing important details on pre-tour preparations.

Passport, Visa and Trek Permit Requirements

All travelers to Nepal must hold a valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your expected date of departure from Nepal.

An entry visa for Nepal is also required. It can be obtained either in advance from a Nepalese embassy or at the airport upon arrival in Nepal. If you plan to obtain it in Nepal, be sure to bring one passport size photo with you for this purpose as well as the current visa fee in cash. You will also need 2 passport photos upon arrival in Pokhara for your trek permit.

Climate

Temperatures tend to be quite cool in the mornings and evenings, but heat-up at midday due to the strong, direct sunlight at high altitudes. The Terai Plain, where Chitwan National Park is located, is about 3000 feet (915m) lower in altitude than Kathmandu, and is consistently warmer than the rest of Nepal.

Climatically, the country ranges from subtropical to temperate and alpine. There are four main seasons:

October & April – Clear mornings with clouds developing in the afternoons; hot during the day, mild evenings. Highs in the low 90's F, lows in the mid 60s F (low 30s to upper teens C). In the Terai, highs in the mid 90s F and lows in the low 70s F (low 30's to low 20's C.)

December/January/February - Clear mornings with clouds developing in the afternoons, warm days but cold at night. Highs in the low 70s F, lows in the low 40s F (low 20's to mid single digits C). In the Terai, the mornings are misty, with the sun only breaking through the dew for a couple of hours per day. Midday high is in the upper 60s F, evenings and morning are in the mid 40s F (upper teens to upper single digits C).

November & March - Clear mornings with clouds developing in the afternoons, warm during the day and cool evenings. Highs in the low 80s F, lows in the low 60s F ( mid 20's to mid teens C). In the Terai, highs in the upper 80's and lows in the low 70's F (upper 20's to low 20's C).

May through September - This is Nepal's rainy season, and can be fascinating for those interested in the flora and fauna of the country. Highs in the mid 90s F and lows in the low 70's F (low 30's to low 20's C).

Baggage

We suggest you pack in a soft-sided bag in order to keep the weight down. Departing Nepal, the weight limit is 44 pounds (20 Kg.). Only 2 check-in bags and 1 carry on bag are allowed. Excess baggage is charged at up to US $ 15 per kg. Make sure you have locks on your checked bags.

Clothing and EquipmentAbout Town

Dress is informal. In hotels and restaurants, casual attire is fine. Conservative dress is always appropriate. Tight or revealing clothing may offend the modest norm. However, outside of Kathmandu loose-fitting shorts are acceptable for both men and women.

On Tour

Comfortable clothes of breathable fabric are essential. Shorts or a skirt and a T shirt are ideal during the day, since it is always warm. A sweat shirt and a windbreaker will also be useful.

While Trekking

The most important item you will require is suitable footwear for trekking. Lightweight walking boots with ankle support and rubber soles with thick tread are best. Unless you're trekking during the rainy season, they needn't be 100% waterproof. It is essential your walking boots are comfortable and broken-in; new or uncomfortable boots can ruin a trek. Your boots should be worn with thick natural-fiber socks.

For your convenience, Ker & Downey Nepal will provide each traveler with a duffel bag, daypack as well as a rain poncho, walking stick, cotton scarf and sun hat. Down jackets, wool gloves and hats are provided in each of the lodge rooms to wear at night, if required.

Toiletries and Medical Items

All travelers should bring a supply of personal toiletries. Trekkers sometimes suffer from blisters, colds, coughs and minor stomach upsets. We recommend every traveler bring a basic medical kit containing nail scissors, moleskin, Band-Aids, sunscreen, diarrhea tablets, aspirin and a remedy for colds and coughs. Ciprofloxin, available by prescription, is the best known treatment for bacterial diarrhea. Your trek leader is first-aid trained and will also carry a standard medical pack. However, it would be best to bring your own prescription medicines.

Customs

In addition to personal effects, foreign visitors may import the following into Nepal duty-free: up to 200 cigarettes or 20 cigars; one quart of distilled liquor or twelve cans of beer.

There are limitations on importing certain electronic goods, including 16 mm video cameras, for which a special permit is required. Still cameras and 8 mm video cameras for your personal use may be imported duty-free, though you may be asked to declare them on arrival.

There are limitations on the export of Nepalese antiques and items of archaeological or historical value. If you purchase any such item, ask the shopkeeper to assist you in obtaining an export license from the Department of Archaeology. Reputable dealers are usually willing to assist. Antique carpets, brass metal statues, and Thankas (finely detailed paintings depicting Buddhist themes) are among the items in this category.

Remember, it is illegal to import any items made from any endangered species of wildlife into most countries.

Packing Checklist

To assist you in planning your trip, we have prepared a suggested packing list. It is meant as a guideline only. Always take your own preferences into account when determining what to bring.

Clothing
  • 1 Pair of walking boots for trekking (lightweight hiking boots with ankle support and rubber soles with thick tread)
  • Pair of comfortable shoes
  • 1-2 Long Sleeved Shirts
  • 5 T-Shirts or short sleeved shirts
  • Fleece sweat shirt
  • Lightweight, wind proof jacket
  • Pairs of shorts (women may wear skirts if they prefer)
  • Pairs of comfortable trousers, or skirts
  • Track suit
  • Set of warm sleepwear (winter months)
  • Handkerchiefs
  • 4-5 Pairs of thick, natural fiber walking socks
  • Underwear
  • Belt
Sundries & Miscellaneous:
  • Passport size photograph if you plan on obtaining your visa on arrival
  • Passport and airline tickets
  • Pair of sunglasses
  • Flashlight with a strong bulb such as a Mag Light or a head lamp
  • Pair of lightweight binoculars (optional)
  • Notebook and pencil (optional)
  • Supply of personal toiletries, including sun screen, chap stick, and travel sized containers
  • Basic medications and first aid supplies (see previous section)
  • Any prescription medications you require (in their original containers),
  • Snacks, such as trail mix or candy if desired
  • Any iPod-type device (optional, useful when light is dim)
  • Pocket knife (optional, useful for peeling fruit. Do not pack in carry-on bags.)
  • Short Wave Radio (optional)
  • Favorite Herbal Tea or decaf coffee (optional)
  • Eagle Creak or large Zip Lock bags for packing loose items (optional)
  • Camera, plenty of film, extra camera batteries (also available in Kathmandu and Pokhara)

If you're participating in white water rafting, add a pair of nylon shorts and 2 extra t-shirts. We will provide life jackets, helmets and waterproof drums for your equipment.

If you're visiting Chitwan National Park, some of your clothing should be in neutral colors, like khaki. White and bright colored clothes disturb the wildlife.

If you're trekking during the off-season (monsoon time), heavier (waterproof) boots and outerwear will be required.

 

Electricity

Electricity is mainly available in the Kathmandu and Pokhara Valleys, where the current is 220 V/50 Cycles. Sockets have two round pins, like in France. While trekking, you can recharge your batteries in our lodges as we use generators. However, no electricity is available on the river or in the Terai.

Currency

The unit of currency is the Nepal rupee, divided into 100 paisa. Commonly circulated coins are of 5, 10, 25 and 50 paisa, and one rupee denominations. Paper notes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.

Major credit cards and travelers checks are accepted by most local hotels, but only accepted in larger restaurants and shops. Master and Visa Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards.

If you would like to buy back US$ upon departure, you must produce an exchange receipt of the same value or greater than the amount that you are exchanging. However, there is a 15% service charge for exchanging rupees to hard currency.

While staying at Ker & Downey properties, all food and local drinks are included in your tour cost. You will need very little local currency. US $500 should be enough for meals in Kathmandu, extra snacks, wine in the Lodges (optional), gratuities, and soft drinks or Tibetan curios along the way. Large notes can be hard to change. 100 rupee notes work best.

If you enjoy shopping, you may want to bring extra money as there are very good deals to be found both in Kathmandu and Pokhara (wall hangings, paintings, statues, jewelry, carpets, carvings, clothes etc.). You can spend anything from US $50 to US $3000. We urge travelers to carry all purchases home with them and not have anything shipped. Shipping can be unreliable and is a cause of great frustration. Keep some free space in your baggage for bringing back your purchases.

Tipping

Kathmandu:

A 10% service charge for hotels is included in the hotel rate. This service charge is divided equally amongst all hotel staff. Local restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill, which is equally divided amongst the entire restaurant staff.

A small service charge has been included for your Ktm representative. However you may wish to tip a little extra if you have received excellent service. Service charge for your city sightseeing guide and Kathmandu driver is not included. Tipping for these individuals is at your discretion.

Pokhara and Trekking:

Tipping for your trek guide and porter is not included. Tipping for these individuals is at your discretion. A small service charge for your lodge staff and Pokhara driver is included. However you may wish to tip a little extra if you have received excellent service. There are tip boxes in the dining rooms for this purpose.

Rafting:

Tipping for your raft guide and crew is not included. Tipping for these individuals is at your discretion and would be done at the end of the raft trip before your onward transfer. A small service charge for your camp staff and driver is included. However you may wish to tip a little extra if you have received excellent service. There is a tip box in the dining room for this purpose.

Chitwan:

A 10% service charge for is included in your stay. This service charge is divided equally amongst all resort staff. However you may wish to tip a little extra if you have received excellent service. There is a tip box for this purpose.

 

Bank Hours

Banks are open for money exchange and other transactions from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. All banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday. You can also change money at hotels. ATM machines are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara but do not function at all times.

Health

While trekking is not extremely strenuous, you must be in reasonable health, as medical facilities are generally unavailable in trekking areas. The altitude in Kathmandu is 4500 feet (1400 meters). We trek between 3500 to 7500 feet (1000 and 2500 meters). Altitude sickness should not affect you at these heights. However, almost everyone suffers some shortness of breath on uphill sections. Anyone with breathing difficulties should consult a physician to determine their fitness for travel.

Although no inoculations are required for Nepal, you should consult your local health department, the Center for Disease Control, or your personal physician for the updated recommendations.

Un-boiled water is not safe to drink anywhere in Nepal. Most hotels provide purified drinking water in each room. When in doubt, stick with bottled drinks. Local mineral water is perfectly safe but ice should be avoided in the smaller establishments.

Avoid Salads and uncooked vegetables as they are not always safe to consume. You should always peel your own fresh fruit.

In the event of an emergency while trekking, a helicopter will be summoned. You will then be flown to Kathmandu or Pokhara where you will be met by our office staff and taken to an international hospital. If necessary, an onward international medical flight will be arranged. Anywhere else on the trip, you will be taken by road to Pokhara or Kathmandu where the same process would occur. Ensure that your insurance policy covers you for such unlikely eventualities. Medical evacuation by helicopter has to be paid for by guests prior to departure from Kathmandu.

 

Safety

Thefts occasionally occur in Nepal. Valuables should be protected. Always carry your passport, airline tickets, and other valuables with you, or lock them in a hotel safety box. We recommend leaving valuable jewelry at home, and using lockable baggage.

Trekking Conditions and Preparation

Our trekking itineraries are only moderately difficult and follow a leisurely pace. Each morning, after an early breakfast we set out at about 8:30 AM, stopping mid-morning for a rest and continue trekking until stopping for lunch around midday. The trails are winding and well worn, but are generally in good condition. Along the way there is plenty of time to stop and photograph the breathtaking Himalayan backdrop, and to explore the countryside. Following lunch, we continue along to our overnight accommodations. We usually arrive around 3:00 PM. During the day we walk 6 to 8 miles per day. While a considerable amount of the trek is downhill, this can sometimes be as tiring as uphill trekking. To condition yourself, we recommend a program of exercise at least two months prior to arrival in Nepal. Step class and stairs prepare one for the hills as well as jogging or bicycling on an incline; these exercises should be done in conjunction with proper stretching.

The highest ascent is in the middle of the trek, when we climb 3500 feet, from Birethanti to Ghandruk, which is at 7000 feet. Otherwise, we trek mostly at altitudes between 3500 to 5500 feet. Anyone in good health who enjoys hiking should find this trek enjoyable and should be able to accomplish it with ease, although somewhat of a challenge at times.

Travel Insurance

We urge our guests to purchase adequate trip cancellation, medical and baggage protection. Please ask for additional information.

Etiquette

While Nepal is generally a relaxed and informal country, there are a few practices the visitor should be aware of. When visiting temples you must remove your shoes. The same applies when you are entering a Nepali house. In some temples, it is forbidden to wear any leather goods. Other temples, do not allow non-Hindus to enter. These are normally marked with a sign in English, and we urge you to respect such practices.

Always ask permission before taking photos inside any temples, and before photographing any local people. Many villagers are unwilling to be photographed for religious reasons or for reasons of personal modesty. When permission is granted, always be sensitive when photographing people, and non-intrusive when photographing inside temples when prayers are in progress. Generally, photography is allowed outside Buddhist and Hindu temples and at religious ceremonies and festivals.

 

Begging

An unfortunate impact of begging is that it can create dependency. We discourage giving anything to beggars, particularly to children. If you wish to contribute, it is more beneficial to give to your tour leader who will distribute the donation to the local schools. Exceptions are made for giving to the physically handicapped and to wandering religious mendicants, called Saddhus.

 

Minimizing your Impact

Ker & Downey strictly subscribes to an environmental policy of minimizing travelers' impact on Nepal's fragile environment. By utilizing lodges rather than camps while trekking, we minimize use of precious firewood. Solar power and generators are used for heating water at the lodges and kerosene is used for cooking. We urge all travelers to join us in seeing that no litter is left along trails.

 

Communication

A good standard telephone system is readily available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Fax machines and E-mail are also available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Neither phone nor fax are available while rafting, trekking or in Chitwan (cell phone coverage can be unreliable in these parts). Most hotels sell stamps and have mail boxes for letters or postcards.

Language

 

The national language is Nepali, with distinct dialects spoken in different areas. All of our guides speak English, as do the porters at a more basic level. In the cities and towns, English is widely spoken, particularly among those serving tourists; but in villages and other more remote areas, the local people you encounter probably will not speak English.

Time Zone

Nepal is 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time; 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time; and 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Eastern US Standard Time. Therefore, when it is 12:00 noon (standard time) in New York, it is 10:45 PM in Nepal.

Photography

We recommend bringing all the camera equipment and film you'll need for your trip. Most people find Nepal more photogenic than they anticipated, so bring more film than you think you'll need. For the most part, slower films will be needed. Due to the high altitude, the sunlight is very intense in Nepal, and we recommend bringing a sun filter to cut the glare. Bring some extra camera batteries too.

 

Food and Drink

Kathmandu has a surprising variety of restaurants serving many types of international cuisine. Remember that Nepal is a relaxed culture and service is usually much slower than Westerners are used to. Outside of the cities, the food is primarily a combination of Nepalese (which has a large Indian influence), and Tibetan. Rice, lentils and vegetables are staples, with a variety of meats used somewhat sparingly. Tasty soups, fried breads and steamed dumplings filled with meat or vegetables are among the local favorites.

The national drink is sweet tea brewed with milk. The local beer is quite good, though it's not always served ice cold. Locally produced rum, vodka and gin are of good quality. Imported spirits are also available but are rather expensive, so if you have a favorite brand, consider using your duty-free allowance to bring a bottle with you. While Coke and Fanta sodas are available in Nepal, diet and decaffeinated beverages are not widely available. Coffee is usually instant.

Please refer to the "Health" section for details on food and water precautions.

 

Transportation

Taxis: Metered taxis are readily available. However, they generally do not use their meters for Westerners. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting in or insist they use the meter. The hotel staff can advise you of the appropriate fare. Taxis can also be hired for day outings at a fixed price. Hotels can organize taxis or provide private cars. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary in Nepal.

Tempos: Three wheeled scooters, known as tempos, are slightly cheaper than taxis.

Rickshaws: These two-seater tricycles are a fun way to see the city. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting on.

Bicycles and Motorcycles: Bicycles can be rented from bike shops or hotels by the hour or day. Motorcycles can also be rented. A driving license is required.

Recommended Restaurants

Type Name Location
    Kathmandu
Japanese Koto's Durbar Marg
French + Asian Chez Caroline Barber Mahal Revisted
Asian + Western Rumdoodles Thamel
Asian + Western Café New Orleans Thamel
Asian + Western Café Mitre Thamel
Continental Thomas Kilroy 1905 Kantipath
Pizza/Pasta Fire & Ice Thamel
Nepalese Krisharpan Dwarikas Hotel
Nepalese Thamel House Thamel
Nepalese Thamel House Thamel
Indian Ghar E Kabab Annapurna Hotel
    Pokhara
French Bistro Caroline Lakeside
Italian Café Concerto Lakeside
Japanese Koto's Lakeside
Asian + Western Moondance Lakeside
 

Recommended Reading List

    • Guide Books
    • Nepal, APA, APA Publishers
    • Nepal, Nelles, Nelles
    • Trekking in Nepal, Bezruchka
    • Nepal, Lonely Planet, Lonely Planet

Background Reading

  • Tiger for breakfast, Michel Peissel, T.B.I.
  • Annapurna, Maurice Herzog, Harper Collins
  • Snow Leopard, Peter Mattessen, Collins Harvill
  • Travels in Nepal, Charlie Pye-Smith, Penguin
  • The Mountain is Young, Han Suyin, Grafton
  • Escape From Kathmandu, Stanley-Robinson, Unwin
  • Shopping For Buddhas, Jeff Greenwald, Harper Row
  • Forget Kathmandu, Manjushree Thapa
  • The Royal Ghosts, Samrad Upadhyay
  • Aama in America, Broughton Coburn
  • Nepali Aama: Life Lessons of a Himalayan Woman, Broughton Coburn

Illustrated

  • The Gurkhas, Sandro Tucci, Hamish Hamilton
  • The Mountain Kingdom, Col. B.M. Niven, Imago (available through our USA office)
  • The Honey Hunters, Eric Valli/ Diane Summers, Abrams
  • MAPS
  • Mandala
  • Nelles
  • A.P.A.
 

Note: Nepal has a number of excellent bookshops where novels (new and second hand) and reference books can be purchased.

Finally, Nepal tends to operate on a "flexi" time basis, so do not panic if a vehicle or plane is a little late or early. Some matters are beyond our control.

Duncan Baker,
General Manager
Ker & Downey Nepal

"Have a good trip and "Namaste."

Ker & Downey Nepal

P.O. Box:20764 Bhattachan Complex

2nd Floor, Thirbam Street, Bhatbhateni

Kathmandu -03, Nepal

Telephone: +977 1 4435686 / 4435645

Fax: 977-1-437-7302

Email: info@keranddowneynepal.com

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