Nepal Himalaya FAQ
- Where is the Himalayan region?
- Where are projects located?
- Do I get any orientation in Kathmandu?
- How do I get there?
- Once in Lukla what happens?
- Do I carry my own backpack?
- Will I get altitude sickness?
- What specific things do I need to bring?
- Will I need a special permit/visa to volunteer there?
- Are there any ATM machines/banks there?
- Do I need extra money? Are foods expensive?
- Can I trek/explore Sherpa villages?
- How can I communicate with Kathmandu office and my family?
- What happens if I get sick?
- Who will support me if I need help?
- How long can I stay?
- Can I split my volunteer time in Kathmandu and Himalayan region?
- What about Weather? When can I join the project?
The Himalayan region lies to the north of Nepal amongst all the snow capped mountains. Our volunteer programs are located in the Khumbu region that lies in the district of Solukhumbu - northeast of Kathmandu.
All our projects are located in between Lukla that’s on the way to Sagamatha National Park. The projects are all away from tourist trails. The monastery project is about 2 hours walk from Lukla, and the teaching project is an hour away from Lukla, in the village of Ghat.
Definitely yes! Right after your arrival in Kathmandu, you will participate in an orientation program. The program will cover information on location, altitude sickness, safety, culture, host family, daily life, projects, and other related issues. Depending on the availability of flights to Lukla, you will stay in our hostel for a few days. We strongly recommend you to enroll in our one-week language and cultural program in Kathmandu before leaving for Lukla. The language program will teach you basic Nepali which you will find very helpful while communicating in the Everest region.
Our Kathmandu office will book a flight for you. Right after your arrival in Kathmandu, you will immediately begin preparing for your Himalayan Program. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla takes about 25 minutes and most of the flights are early in the morning. There are about 4 domestic airlines that fly to Lukla. Volunteers are themselves responsible for the air ticket.
Our representative (most probably our coordinator for Himalayan program) will receive you at the airport. From there he’ll take you to the project. You need to walk to get to the project from the airport. The monks’ project is only about 2 hours away from Lukla. Along the way, you will pass massive Himalayan peaks, deep valleys and rivers whereas; the teaching project is about an hour away from Lukla.
You can either carry backpack on your own or you hire a porter. The porter will charge you about 700 local currency (USD 10) to carry it. You will have to bring a backpack or a trekking bag that is easy to carry for 1 or more hours.
There is very less chance of getting sickness at Lukla as its situated at an altitude of 2800 meters. As you walk from Lukla to your project site, you will descend. Consider it normal if you experience any mild headache. You must drink plenty of water and let our coordinator know if you experience severe health risks. After an overnight rest in the region, there won’t be any sign of sickness. Since our projects are all below 3000 meters, you will not experience any difficulties. After you spend a week at your project site, you can climb as high as 3500 meters without any problem!
Good trekking shoes are a must. There are no roads in the area. You must also bring warm jackets since evenings and mornings are always cold. If you’re traveling in winter, you must have jackets that can withstand freezing cold. You can also consider bringing first aid medicines, dry fruits, chocolates and vitamin supplements. The whole region is crime free, so you can bring your laptop and use it there. You can even buy a simcard in Kathmandu and use internet from there. Mobile phones also work!
The tourist visa you will receive while entering Nepal is all that is needed. But if you enter Sagarmatha National Park, which is about an hour’s walk from your project site, you will need to pay 1 thousand local currency (USD 15) to enter. Namche Bazaar and Mount Everest are located inside Sagarmatha National Park.
There are no ATM machines in the whole of Everest region. You will be able to take out money from your card at a local bank but the charge would be very high. Your program fee pays for your accommodation and 3 local meals a day, so the best thing would be to budget other daily expenses and take cash with you before you leave for the program. The prices for everything in Everest region is double than that in Kathmandu, so please buy all you need before you leave.
How much money you’d need depends entirely on your spending habits. There are many really good restaurants, bakeries and tea houses in the region. The food, considering the remotes of the places, is excellent. They are also not that expensive. If you eat out, you will easily spend about 500 Nepalese rupees (USD 7). If you use internet, the charges can be as high as 5 hundred local currency (USD 7) per hour.
In your free time, you most definitely can explore nearby villages or further. While in the region you may also want to visit Namche Bazaar and trek up to Everest Base Camp. This is about 4 to 8 days of trek, depending on your physical condition or how fast you can walk. You will spend about 2 thousand rupees daily (USD 30) on trek. This is if you do not hire any guide or porter.
Mobile (cell) phone connection is extremely good throughout most of the Everest region. You can even call home from Everest Base Camp! You will need to bring a mobile (cell) phone set with you from home and buy a sim card in Kathmandu before you leave for the program. There are no landlines.
For internet, it would be best for you to bring your own laptop and buy a sim card with internet connection in Kathmandu. With this, you can use internet wherever you want while volunteering. There are internet cafes in Phakdin (about 30 minutes from the project site) but the charge is high.
You must also bring first aid kit with you. If you have fever you can take medicines and relax. Do not go anywhere. The more rest you have the stronger you will get. Your host family or the monastery will also prepare you food you can digest more easily.
You must also bring water purifying tablets and a water bottle. The tap water in Everest region is excellent but we recommend you to use the purifying tablet. If your stomach gets upset, drink only boiled water.
If your sickness gets worse, you must get to a hospital in Lukla. Pasang Lhamu Nicole-Nicky Hospital in Lukla has excellent facilities and will take good care of you. You can also fly back to Kathmandu from Lukla, should there be severe health conditions.
You will have 3 layers of support in Luka. The program coordinator will help you in emergency. The coordinator will also guide you. The coordinator is an experienced Sherpa of the local region. He will know what to do if you have any problem.
Your program staff will also help you if you need any assistant. Please feel free to ask them for help as they really do look forward to assisting you. You will also be helped by your host family.
You can volunteer for 1 to 12 weeks. You can also volunteer in two different projects. We do not recommend you to fly in June-August as flights get frequently cancelled due to bad weather. But if you are in Everest region then and want to continue to volunteer during this time you can do so. The best time to volunteer is between March to May and September to November.
This can definitely be done! You can in fact volunteer in 3 regions, the flat region of Chitwan, in the valley of Kathmandu and in the mountains in Himalayan region.
- Mid-November until mid-March is very cold. You will experience snow fall.
- April until the end of June, the weather is mildly cold in the evening and morning, and warm during the day. This is a tourist season.
- July and August is the rainy season and we do not recommend you to volunteer during this season as flights to Lukla get frequently cancelled due to poor weather. The roads during this time are very steep and muddy.
- September and October are the best season in Khumbu region. During this season visibility is extremely good and you can see spectacular views of the Himalayans. This is also the best tourist season.