Nepal is a magical mountain land and home to some of the highest peaks on Planet Earth, including the tallest and most famous – Everest! Its capital city, Kathmandu is fill of a chaos of sounds, smells and action that contrasts with the serenity and peace of the mountains. It is a land of spirituality, full of temples and stupas as well as a country abundant with wildlife, none more so than at the Chitwan National Park World Heritage Site. Nepal’s unique location, between China, India, and other mountain kingdoms means it has a fascinating blend of cultures, religions, cuisines and histories.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months when you submit your visa application and have at least one blank page for the entry stamps. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
A visa is required to enter Nepal. It is advised that you obtain your visa in advance of travel, obtained from your local Nepalese embassy to be valid for entry for tourist purposes for three to six months from the date of issue, but your dates of travel must fall within the dates of visa validity. Alternatively, citizens of selected nations including UK, US and Canada, may apply for a visa on arrival at Kathmandu Airport, though there can be lengthy queues. These tourist visas are valid for 15, 30 or 90 days. If you are applying for your visa on arrival, you will need a completed application form, a passport sized photo and the visa fee in cash – current prices are 15 Days – $30 USD, 30 Days – $50 USD, 90 Days – $125 USD. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are only a few major international embassies located in Kathmandu, including those for the US, Australia and UK. However, embassies for other countries, including Canada and New Zealand are located in New Delhi or other Asian cities, offering coverage to Nepal. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking. Please inform them that you will be visiting Nepal and trekking at altitude – some policies only cover to a certain altitude and do not include certain activities. Make sure your insurance also includes helicopter rescue and evacuation.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs. Healthcare is poor in most places outside the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara, and ambulances limited even in cities, so please ensure you have adequate health travel insurance.
Nepal is located at a high altitude above sea level - the altitude at Kathmandu is 1,370m, but rises steeply as you ascend into the foothills of Everest. You may wish to speak to your doctor about how this may affect any existing medical conditions. You might also want to discuss precautions available to you to avoid the inconveniences that altitude causes to some people.
Dengue Fever is present in some parts of the country, and it is advisable to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
Foothills of Everest Tour – This tour is designed for those who are seeking an adventure, those who want to get a taste of the high mountain experience and to be amongst the Sherpa community. This tour includes a moderate trek of around 4-8hrs per day (a couple of days are tougher than others with lots of undulating hills). You need to be fit and active to take part in this trip, but you do not need to be an experienced trekker to enjoy this trip. However, some training beforehand, walking/trekking before you travel would enhance your overall experience on this adventure.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Bhutan and Nepal Tour is an Activity Level 3 tour and will require a high level of physical activity over an extended period. The Foothills of Everest Tour is a Physically Demanding tour and will require very high levels of physical activity. Neither are suitable if you have limited mobility. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. Medical facilities and supplies are limited once out of Kathmandu or Pokhara, so please ensure you take sufficient with you. Important:
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations however please take note of the information below.
Yellow Fever Certificate. Though Yellow Fever is not present in Nepal, depending on areas you have previously travelled to you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Tuberculosis, Rabies and Malaria may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/countries
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
We are not able to take travelers away to exert themselves at altitude who use a CPAP machine. Nepal and Bhutan is possible to book but not the Foothills of Everest.
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There may be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure for Nepal, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Nepal & Bhutan Tour - Given the variable weather we’re likely to experience as we travel, you will need clothes for warmer weather as well as a warm, waterproof jacket. Pack light and remember the basic essentials: camera and attachments; a good pair of lightweight binoculars; adaptor plugs; toiletries including insect repellent and sunblock; medications and prescriptions; extra reading glasses; sunhat; and notebook or journal. Make sure you have comfortable, practical footwear for the treks and clothing that can be worn in layers.
For the flights between Kathmandu to Bharatpur and Pokhara to Kathmandu, travellers are permitted 1 piece of hold luggage per person, the weight of which should not exceed 20kgs. You are also permitted one piece of cabin baggage per person, which should not exceed the 5kg in weight and must be no more than the following dimensions: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (20 x 14 x 9ins). There will be a charge for all excess luggage. Usual restrictions on prohibited items, including those on liquids, apply on these flights. Luggage handling is not included on this tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge. Laundry services will be limited as part of the tour, so please bring sufficient clothes with you.
Foothills of Everest Trek Tour - We strongly recommend traveling light because of the mobile and challenging nature of the trip. Limit your luggage to your trek bag (provided) and a 25l daypack to carry on the trail and to keep with you on tour.
You will be provided with 1 x trek /duffel bag on arrival in Kathmandu. Before departing on the trek, transfer your overnight and personal kit from your suitcases into the trek bag, so it can be comfortably carried by the porters along the trek. Maximum permitted weight of 15kg per person.
Any extra luggage can be left at the hotel in Kathmandu. We recommend leaving a clean set of clothes at the hotel - always nice to come back to at the end of a trek.
Please note, for the flights between Kathmandu and Lukla, we are limited to 10kg hold luggage and 5kg hand luggage.
SUGGESTED TREK / HIKING PACKING LIST
This list is provided as a simple guideline to help you plan your trip – it covers the basics and we realize you will probably have your own personal favourites to add to this.
- Pair of trekking boots with good ankle support and a VIBRAM sole, or similar. Wear your trekking boots on your flight to Nepal or place them in your hand luggage. It is impossible to replace well worn-in trekking boots if your hold luggage goes missing.
- Base layers of a light, wicking material (Long & Short sleeve); Mid layer shirt or light fleece; Mountain fleece / light primaloft or down jacket (often called a spring jacket); Three-quarter or full length trekking trousers (mid weight); Trekking Socks (2-3 pairs); Waterproof jacket and trousers (lightweight); Warm gloves and hat
- Good quality sunglasses (Factor 3); Sunblock and lip salve (Factor 50); Sunhat
- Small first aid kit e.g. plasters, paracetamol, antiseptic wipes, etc.; Wide necked, plastic water bottle e.g. Nalgene; Flashlight, with spare batteries
- Clothes and trainers/shoes for the evenings and village after daily trekking
- Trainers/approach shoes for Kathmandu sightseeing (uneven streets can be a challenge to walk on in city shoes, especially with heels
The main language of Nepal is Nepali, though a number of other languages are spoken widely across the country. English is spoken by some in the hospitality trade.
The time zone in Nepal is GMT+5.45, 5.45 hours ahead of London GMT. It is one of the few countries in the world to use a partial hour time zone.
The weather and visibility in Nepal in the autumn season, from September-November, is perfect for touring and trekking. The temperature is moderate during the day, with cool mornings and evenings, getting cooler as you rise in altitude. The tour will mostly be at altitudes above 2,500m, so you should be prepared for cold weather.
In Nepal, the standard voltage is 220V and the frequency is 50Hz. Nepal uses three types of plugs – Type C (European style 2 round prongs), Type D (mainly used in Indian countries and some African countries, with three round prongs) and Type M (like Type D but with larger prongs). Blackouts (‘load shedding’) are a fact of life across Nepal, especially in Kathmandu. Power surges are also likely, so bring a voltage guard with spike suppressor (automatic cut-off switch) for your laptop. Note that power supplies to some rural areas may still be disrupted because of earthquake damage.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Nepal has one of the least developed telephone networks in the world, but most hotels and towns offer public telephones if you need to make a call. Over the last few years, the mobile/cell phone network has improved considerably across Nepal. In populated urban areas, there should be signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate or be non-existent. It is best to ask your mobile phone network provider about using your phone in Nepal data roaming charges. can quickly become very expensive. Internet access is becoming more commonly available in Nepal, but regular power cuts and infrastructure can make this difficult. Wi-Fi is available in some locations in Kathmandu. We will provide you with an emergency number so that friends and family can contact you if they need to whilst you are trekking.
The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). Credit cards are widely accepted at mid-high range establishments, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages. It is easy to change cash and access ATMs in Kathmandu and Pokhara but very difficult in other areas.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Nepal can be quite inexpensive for western travellers. Due to the nature of the Nepal tours, your accommodation, transport and most meals are already included in your package price. However, please bring along some money for drinks, snacks and of course, souvenirs.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Nepal are usually open 9am – noon and then from 2-4pm Sunday to Friday, and then from 10am-noon on Saturday, but this varies locally.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Nepal combines a range of characteristics from its neighbouring countries with its own gastronomic history, resulting in distinctly individual foods that are rich with flavour and culture. Recipes from Nepalese cuisine can be relatively simple and the flavours subtle, but the results are far from bland. Daal bhaat tarkari, which translates as lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables is the staple meal of Nepal. It's a tried and true fuel to keep you trekking, all day, every day. Common ingredients found across Nepalese cuisine include lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, chilies, peppers, garlic and mustard oil. Yoghurt, or dahi is popular across Nepal, and is eaten for its healthy attributes and adaptable nature, as it can be used as a side dish or as an ingredient in drinks (Lassi) and desserts (Sikarni).
In the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, you will find a range of cuisines, many from Nepal’s neighbouring countries, as well as some international dishes, but once you head out into the countryside and start the mountain treks, options become more limited.
Most Hindu Nepalis are vegetarians, yet the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley are great meat eaters. In this region, you will frequently find buff, water buffalo, but goat is also common. Cows are sacred to Hindus and therefore are not eaten.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
It is not advisable to drink the tap water in Nepal, nor that from any wells, streams or rivers unless it has been boiled or purified first. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Nepal offers lots for visitors to buy. You will find a range of local handicrafts on offer, as always of the region in bright, bold colours, reflecting both the Hindu and Buddhist faith that will make excellent souvenirs You will also get the chance to try your bargaining skills on the markets of Nepal.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 10am-8pm Sunday – Friday. Most shops are closed on Saturdays, but some may open in the morning.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Nepal are low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
The tours to Nepal are at high altitude, especially the Foothills of Everest tour. Please discuss with your doctor how this may affect you and any existing conditions you may have. Furthermore, a very high level of fitness is required in order to complete these tours and are not suitable for travellers with limited mobility or fitness. Medical facilities are scarce once out of the big cities.
When trekking, please take guidance from the specialist trek leaders. Exposure is a risk and watch out for the ever-changing weather conditions.
Please don’t encourage begging by giving sweets or money to local people who may approach you on the street. Recognized charities often have collection boxes in hotels. We recommend that you make any donations here, where you can be assured that the funds will be properly used.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke.
Nepal is famous as the world's only Hindu Kingdom. However, it is an intricate and beautiful tapestry formed by the interweaving of Hinduism, Buddhism and other beliefs. Religious tolerance and harmony such as is found in Nepal, is perhaps a unique example to the world.
Nepal offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR FOOTHILLS OF EVEREST TOUR
The best preparation for trekking is… trekking! Get out for hikes and short walks in your home country. Even regular walks in the park if you can’t escape to the countryside much, are a good way to prepare. However, if you can manage some weekends away, walks in your local national park, low hills, high mountains, anywhere where you'll be on rough paths and doing some good ups and downs… it will all be good practice!
Get used to your personal equipment - feeling that your backpack fits snugly; enjoying the re-assuring strength of a familiar pair of hiking boots; knowing what layers work best for you; what little extras to carry in your pockets… all this will be invaluable!
What’s more, some additional fitness from running, swimming, the gym, yoga, spin classes, etc. is also a plus! A strong cardiovascular system is going to help you cope at altitude.
A Typical Day on the Trail
Wake up to a hot drink brought to your room by our lovely Sherpa team. Pack your bags and get ready for the day, before a leisurely breakfast. The porters will arrive whilst you eat to carry your trek bag up to our next overnight stop. We’ll walk for an hour or so before taking a break. We usually take a lunch along the route before continuing on the trail. Typically, we won't walk for more than 4-5 hours a day and there will of course be lots of wonderful views, people and interesting things along the way, as well as many photo opportunities. We reach our next lodge in time to relax for a while. In Namche, there is a masseur on hand for appointments. Alternatively, you might feel like exploring the local village and hills with your guide, or perhaps by yourself. Having a hot shower and many other creature comforts to look forward to makes each day’s trekking even more of a joy! We re-group again for drinks around the fire and finish the day with a three-course meal – local or Western style, there’s plenty of variety and lots of taste! We tend to drift off to bed fairly early. However, a quick peek at the night sky outside, particularly when higher up where the heavens really are ablaze with stars, can be a late-night treat before sleep.
Staying in the Best of Health on the Trail
There are a number of things you should be vigilant about whilst on trail in the high mountains are: exposure to the weather - effects of sun and hypothermia; gastric upsets; coughs and colds; blisters and sores and managing the adjustment to higher altitudes. Our advice is simple: prevention is better than cure! Here are some tips to stay well and healthy:
- Keep Hydrated. Drink Plenty of Safe Water - In the very dry air of the mountains, you lose moisture every time you breathe out, as well as through your skin at a higher rate than usual. Even whilst sleeping, we are dehydrating. When dehydrated, we feel weary and lethargic. More critically, we are stopping our bodies being able to adjust and acclimatize to altitude. Get hydrated, feel energized and acclimatize better and faster. How do you know when you’re hydrated? It is not what goes in, it is what comes out. At altitude, you will be urinating more frequently anyway, it’s a side effect of acclimatization. You should be urinating regularly, and urine should be clear or pale. If you haven’t urinated for a couple of hours or more, you are on the way to dehydration.
- Clean Hands! - The most common way to get bugs (bacteria, protozoa) into your system is via your hands – picking up food, touching your face or unwrapping food with dirty hands can lead to stomach upsets. Use a hand sanitizer and/or soap and water. Clean your hands immediately before eating, though not when looking at menus or chatting pre-meal. Don’t use towels in public washrooms. Try to avoid touching your face. And always clean hands after using the toilet.
- Wear A Buff/Scarf Over Your Mouth on High Trails - This traps moisture and helps reduce the dryness of air you breathe in. It also keeps the dust out! Protecting your airways will reduce the likelihood of coughs and colds, particularly the dreaded Khumbu Cough. Use cough sweets or sugar free gum to keep your throat moist.
- Protect from the Sun – Sunblock and Hats - The sun is particularly strong at altitude, where the UVA and UVB rays will penetrate much more viciously in the thin air. Wear a good sunblock, particularly on lips. Keep covered up and watch out for friends getting red and sore – let them know. For the same reasons, a sun hat is essential in the high hills.
- Stop and Sort It Out! - Socks rubbing a bit? Stop and prevent that blister forming. Getting a little chilly? Stop and put more clothes on before you get too cold. A problem on trail will stay with you for the trek. Notice it and stop it happening.
Trip Grading: Who is this Trip Suitable For?
The Foothills of Everest Tour is designed for those who are seeking an adventure, want a taste of the high mountain experience and want to be amongst the Sherpa community.
This is a moderate trek, most days are 4-5 hours long, with a few a little longer. Altitude gain is usually 300-500m/day, the paths and tracks are generally wide and well-marked.
We ask that you have a reasonable level of fitness, but you do not need to be an experienced trekker to enjoy this trip. However, some trekking experience would enhance your overall experience on this adventure. Your trek guide will ensure we have a comfortable pace on the trail and you will have Sherpa support every step of the way. If you are comfortable going on day walks in the hills of your home country or maybe you swim, cycle or take a class a couple of times a week, then you should find this trek well within your abilities.
ARRIVAL IN NEPAL
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in India, Tibet, Bhutan or other countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries as these may differ from Nepal.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated December 2019