Nepal is 5 hours 45 mins ahead of Greenwich Meantime and does not observe Daylight Saving time.
Standard voltage is 220 volts. Primary sockets generally require Indian round 3 pin plugs that are similar but not identical to European plugs, however you will also find those which require the European variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee.
Pound Sterling, US Dollars or other major currencies can be exchanged at the airport and there are plenty of places to exchange money in Kathmandu.There are also ATMs at the banks in Kathmandu and Pokhara, although as these are sometimes out of order and banks are not always open, we advise that you bring some cash with you, preferably US dollars. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.
Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Nepal from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Diphtheria, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Polio are strongly recommended. You may also be advised to take anti-Malarial medication.
As tap water is not safe to drink in Nepal, only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants. You should also avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water.
The national dish of Nepal is Daal Bhaat Takaari (lentils, rice and vegetable curry) which can be found in a range of flavours and is often served as a main course for lunch and dinner. For many people in Nepal this is the only dish they eat. It often varies in quality, being excellent in one restaurant and bland in another. Nepali food has Tibetan influences especially in the mountains where a traditional diet consists of soups, potatoes, pasta and toasted flour. You will also find Indian food in Nepal, such as Roti (bread) tandoori meats, masaala and kofti. Kathmandu is renowned as the budget eating capital of Asia with tourist restaurants selling a wide variety of Western style fast food including chips, steaks and pizza. Noodles are available everywhere and ideal for a quick snack, the Nepali name for them is chao-chao.
The Kathmandu Valley is heavenly for shoppers, with a host of craft outlets selling locally made handicrafts, stone idols and statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities. There are also beautifully designed brass pots and vessels available. Jewellery shops sell gold, silver, white metal and semi precious stones, as well maala (the traditional necklace worn by women in the Himalayas, which is made of gold with strings of glass beads) at very reasonable prices. If you are more interested in clothing there are delicately embroidered Kaftans, Pashminas made of goats wool, Kashmiri Shawls and Tibetan robes. You can also pick up inexpensive leather jackets.
Whilst trekking there are traders dotted along the trails selling everything from down jackets, waterproofs, jumpers, hats and socks at very reasonable prices, so there is no need to panic if you haven't packed enough! It is advisable to pack light and simply buy extra clothing en route if needed.
You are expected to barter for your goods in Nepal and the process is always very lighthearted. Most traders will speak English in tourist areas but if you can learn a few words in Nepali you may get a better deal.
Whilst trekking, accommodation options are limited so please do not expect the Ritz. We use simple family run lodges, with a large sociable central dining area and a cosy wood burning fire. Rooms are on a twin share basis and we recommend you use your own sleeping bag. Lodges tend to have shared bathroom facilities and you won't always have access to a shower. Lodges often charge between Rs.200-700 (depending upon the altitude), for a bucket of hot water, which can then be mixed with the cold water to wash yourself with.
If you need to charge the battery of your camera or mobile phone etc, the lodges will do this for you for a small fee of approx. Rs.50-200 per full charge.
It is important to understand that when you are trekking you will be away from civilization and the comforts of home. Trekking is adventure travel! Despite the lack of facilities, these lodges certainly have a rustic charm. Most are blessed with spectacular views and being family run operations, offer a great insight into the daily life of the Himalayan people.
On our tours all of your meals are included whilst you’re trekking. Meals at the lodges are normally vegetarian and staple foods include rice, vegetable curry, dal soup, noodles, pasta, dumplings, fries and stew. Desert is not provided, although it's usually possible to purchase chocolate bars, biscuits and sweets at the lodges. At each meal you'll be given a cup of tea or coffee and you can purchase additional drinks from the lodges of porters.
During the trek mineral water is readily available to purchase and the cost ranges from Rs.50-350 per litre depending on the altitude (the higher you are, the more things cost). Alternatively you can refill a bottle at lodges and water stations by paying a nominal fee of Rs.20-50 and use purification tablets to make it safe for consumption. We recommend that you do this to help protect the environment by reducing the use of plastic bottles and it is also more cost effective.
Health & Fitness
Nepal offers some of the best trekking in the world, with stunning scenery and magnificent mountain ranges. You don’t need to be an athlete to undertake our Himalayan treks; you simply require a good level of fitness, gained from regular exercise and a sense of adventure! Greater fitness will allow you to adjust with ease, leaving you to enjoy yourself and your surroundings. We suggest you begin a fitness program at least 3 months before departure. Take part in regular activities such as cycling, swimming, jogging, tennis, walking and bush walking.
Whilst you are trekking the porters will carry your rucksack (up to a maximum of 15kg) and all the heavy gear, you’ll just need to carry a small day pack for your water, camera and essentials.
Our Annapurna Panorama tour is a perfect introduction to trekking, reaching a maximum height of 2830m, trekking at a relatively easy pace, with plenty of sightseeing and lodge accommodation. You’ll be trekking on average for 4 – 6 hours a day. Our Everest Base Camp and Everest & Gokyo Lakes treks are more challenging, reaching heights of 5400m, and trekking for up to 7- 8 hours a day. Nevertheless, everyone can walk at a steady pace and there is plenty of time during the day to cover the distances and the physical exertion, though strenuous, is not sustained. There will also be plenty of time to rest.
Altitude sickness is not related to your level of fitness; it occurs as a result of failure to adapt to high altitudes (usually over 2000 meters) and can affect anyone. The common symptoms are headaches, nausea, irregular breathing, insomnia and the swelling of fingers and glands. Treatment is to descend to a lower altitude as quickly as possible which normally results in rapid improvement and recovery. Our treks are designed to ensure there is plenty of time for adequate acclimatisation and cases of mountain sickness are rare.
On our Annapurna Panorama trek you need travel insurance that will cover you for trekking up to 3000m and up to 6000m on our Everest Base Camp and Everest & Gokyo Lakes treks. You do not need specialist travel insurance but not all insurers will cover trekking above 2000m as standard, there is often a supplement, so it is important to check the policy details carefully.
When to Trek
June to September - Summer is monsoon season in Nepal and it rains almost every day, mostly in the evenings; the scenery is lush and green but trails become very muddy. For this reason we do not offer trekking during these months.
October to November - Autumn is the most popular time to trek, when it is cooler with clear skies.
December to February - Winter months tend to be mild in the daytime with brilliant sunshine, but foggy in the mornings and can become very cold at night. January is the coldest month of the year.
March to May - Spring is very warm with occasional showers but as long as you don’t mind the heat it is a good time to trek. May is the hottest month of the year.
In the mountain regions, daytime hiking temperatures generally range from 10 to 21 degrees Celsius. Night time temperatures tend to drop down to between 4 to 12 degrees Celsius but can be colder at higher altitudes. We schedule our trips to attempt to coincide with the best weather conditions but we cannot be held accountable for the unpredictability of Mother Nature!
What to pack
It is best to pack light and to bring clothes that can be layered for warmth. There are plenty of traders selling clothes and trekking equipment at very cheap prices in Nepal, so there is no need to worry about not packing enough! You'll find a comprehensive list of what to pack on the tour trip notes which you can download from our tour itinerary pages. Do not carry everything on the list as you will overload your backpack.
Please note that the luggage allowance on domestic flights in Nepal is only 15kgs including your hand baggage and porters on the trek will carry bags up to a maximum of 15kgs. So it is essential that you travel light.