Nepal trip preparation

Whether you are on a trek in Nepal or climbing a mountain in Nepal you need to prepare and we're always at the end of a call for any advice or help.

Useful links:

Latest entry requirements - Gov.UK Nepal Travel Advice

Latest Health Requirements and information for Nepal - Travel HealthPro

British Embassy in Kathmandu - +977 (0)1 423 7100

List of healthcare facilities in Nepal

Information on visa prices and online application for an e-visa - Embassy of Nepal, London

Information on permits for trekking routes - Nepal Dept of Home Affairs

Information on peak permits fees - Nepal Mountaineering Association

 

Vaccinations and Travel Health

You may wish to visit your GP prior to your trip to discuss vaccinations and anti-malarial tablets if you are heading to the southern region. You can visit the NHS website fit for travel for more information about vaccinations and anti-malarial that you may need.

Currently Nepal still requires visitors to present their Covid vaccination certificate on arrival.

Insurance

You will need a policy that covers trekking over 4000 metres and helicopter evacuation from a semi-remote region. There are plenty of companies to choose from, such as DogTag, Campbell Irvine, Snowcard, the British Mountaineering Council, Austrian Alpine Club, True Traveller and even some of the popular general ones such as the Post Office or some of the supermarkets. Check the policy carefully for cover to the altitude you are going to and also check the criteria and description of climbing peaks because they do change. Some specify with or without ropes, some specify with or without a guide, or using a rope only when necessary.

We encourage people to buy insurance as soon as you have booked your flight and trip, in case there is a need for cancellation. Do also take your papers with you and make sure your tentmate knows where it is, in case somebody else needs to make a phone call for you.

In the event of an incident requiring a helicopter evacuation up in the mountains, it's generally best to call the insurance company first and create a file and then let the insurers deal direct with the helicopter company. Normally there is a process of justification for an evacuation and the payment is arranged directly. Sometimes it may be necessary to pay the helicopter yourself and recoup the costs later with an insurance claim but this is potentially much harder and you would need to have medical proof of injury or emergency in writing.

For bigger mountains it's necessary to find a specialised insurance and there are specialist brokers such as Campbell Irvine who can advice.

Visas

You will need a visa for travel to Nepal and currently for British, American and most European nationals you can buy this on arrival, but do check with your local Embassy. You can also apply online for an e-visa, see the link above.

Passport copies

If you are doing a trekking peak or visiting an area of restricted access like Dolpo or Mustang then it's best if you can send us a copy of your passport page in a pdf or jpeg format so that our staff can get the permits in advance of your arrival. The permit offices are not open on a weekend and can often be very busy so it's best if you can send us the paperwork well in advance.

Flights

Kathmandu International airport (KTM) is the most convenient point of entry to Nepal, being the capital and main transport hub in the country, however there is also an international airport at Pokhara as of 2023 and also one in Lumbini. Most indirect flights are via one of the Middle Eastern hubs like Doha or Abu Dhabi, or via Delhi. It's worth shopping around for the best price and routing. Currently the quickest way to get to Nepal from the UK is with Qatar airways via Doha.

Money

The local currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee. You can check the current exchange rate on xe.com. There are ATMs in town which take Visa and Mastercard, and there are banks with forex facilities.in Kathmandu most bigger shops will take card payments and also major currencies but on trek you will need Nepali rupees for everything, and small denomination notes too. It's difficult to buy Nepali rupees outside of Nepal so change locally and use a currency card to avoid credit card charges.  If you are travelling from Northern Ireland or Scotland then remember to bring Bank of England sterling notes, you will find it difficult to change regional notes.

Arrival

We will meet you at arrivals in the airport, but make sure we have the right flight number and arrival time well in advance so that we can plan this. Our staff will be holding either an Adventure Alternative sign or possibly one with your name written on it. The airport is about half an hour or so from Thamel which is the main area in town where the hotels are.

Luggage

You will need a duffle bag or rucksack for the porter to carry your main clothing and equipment, and also a day pack for you to carry what you need for the day. Make sure individual items inside the duffle are packed into dry bags and do carry a separate bag for dirty clothes to keep them separate. Porters will strap your main bag together and carry it on a tumpline which is a band of material going over the forehead.

You can leave bags or suitcases in the hotel or in our office while you are away climbing or trekking and it will be perfectly safe. This is useful for travel clothes.

Porters generally carry around 18 - 20kgs but this includes their own bags too, so we generally ask that your main bag weighs around 15 kgs. The day pack should not be too heavy or else it will become too difficult to carry at altitude, we generally recommend 10 kgs maximum.

Cash on trek

The cost of the trip includes accommodation and meals which are ordered by menu every day. It includes a breakfast, lunch and dinner with hot drink with each meal. Anything on top is paid for in cash in Nepali rupees, for example more hot drinks or beer, bottled water or boiled water for your bottle, charging electronics and hot showers. Additionally the tips for the staff are paid in cash at the end of the trek to the tour leader or sirdar who should hand the money out as a group event when you can also say your own thanks and goodbyes. You may also need some cash to rent gear or equipment.

The cost of items in the lodges increase the higher you go up into the mountains so it's hard to give one figure for every day. But as a general average for a trek in the Khumbu (Everest) region:

Hot showers  - 500 Rs  in Namche Bazaar, 750 Rs in Lobuche (near base camp Everest)
Charging - 200 Rs per item in Namche up to 500 per hour in Lobuche
Boiled water - 250 rs in Namche, 400 Rs in Lobuche
Can of beer - 800 Rs generally
Can of Coke - 450 Rs generally
Thermos of black tea - 1200 Rs
Thermos of milk tea - 1800 Rs

Tips

There are different terms used in Nepal which can be confusing. For clarity, on treks we say Trek Leader which can also be trekking guide, tour guide, sirdar or Sherpa. For climbing peaks we say Climbing Guide which is also often Sherpa (confusingly).

Often a trek leader will also be qualified as a climbing guide and therefore will also climb a peak. Often if the numbers require an extra climbing guide, then one from the nearest village to Island Peak or Mera Peak is hired just for a few days to help with the summit cycle.

For treks like Everest base camp, Annapurna, Langtang and Mustang:
Porter - USD$40
Asst trek leader - USD$65
Trek Leader - USD$75

For longer treks like Kanchenjunga, Upper Dolpo, 3 Passes, Manaslu Circuiit:
Porter - USD$55
Asst trek leader - USD$75
Trek Leader - USD$85

For trekking peak trips like Island Peak and Mera Peak:
Porter - USD$65
Trek leader - USD$100
Climbing guide - USD$100

In order to work out the tip you should bring, it's necessary to know how many staff and how many clients are in the group. Then, calculate the total tips based on the figures above and divide by the number in the group.

Tips for porters must be paid in Nepali rupees because they cannot get to the city easily to exchange money, while the guides can be paid in dollars or other currencies because they are often in Kathmandu where they can change money.

Kit Rental in Nepal

You can either rent equipment from our store or you can rent locally in Kathmandu or in a nearby lodge if you are climbing Mera Peak or Island Peak. It will be cheaper to rent everything in the nearest village (Chukkung for Island Peak and Khare for Mera Peak) and there are plenty of rental shops there, but if you are planning to rent plastic or hybrid boots then it cannot be guaranteed that you'll find a boot your size, especially if you have particularly large or small feet.

Adventure Alternative has a limited amount of equipment to rent including axes, poles, crampons, harnesses, jumars, slings, karabiners and descenders and you can add them to your order when you book. You'll receive these in Kathmandu when you arrive. The prices are all on the website under Extras.

You can also hire sleeping bags and down jackets and pretty much any outdoor clothing in Thamel before your trip begins, it's just a matter of shopping around! Everything is negotiable and there are hundreds of outdoor gear shops.

Meals in Kathmandu

You will also want some cash for meals and drinks in Kathmandu and visiting sites, souvenirs and so on. Many places will take card payment or payment from your smartphone but smaller establishments will be cash only. A standard meal with drinks in a mid range restaurant in Kathmandu or in a hotel will be around £25.00.