know before you come

The history of Nepal has come a long way before establishing itself as a Federal Democratic Republic Country. With the passing of every new century, Nepal witnessed many rulers and dynasties play contributing roles in building Nepal to present day’s Modern Nepal. Kirantis ruled Nepal from 9th century B.C. to 1st century A.D. Later Licchavis took over Kirantis from 3rd to 13th century and then were followed by Thakuris belonging to Malla dynasty. Then Shah Dynasty held the reign. King Prithvi Narayan Shah is solely responsible for today’s modern day Nepal for he is the one who united different kingdoms into one single nation in 1769. In 1846, the Kot massacre led by Jung Bahadur Rana backseated the power of monarchy and made Rana regime more powerful. In 1950 King Tribhuvan, with the support from India restored monarchy. A coalition government comprising the Nepali congress party and the Ranas was thereafter installed with the promise of free elections in 1952. In 1960, King Mahendra, son of King Tribhuvan tactically established Panchayat system, meaning ‘five councils system’, by engineering a coup, declaring a new constitution, imprisoning all the leaders of the then government and enforcing a ban on all political activities. People’s movement of 1990 opened up a new chapter for a decade of democracy in Nepal which led to multiparty democracy with constitutional monarchy. Democracy came with heavy price leading to incompetent political leaders, political conflicts, Maoist insurgency, corruptions and downfall in national economy. Royal family massacre in 2001 left whole world in complete shock. King Gynendra was crowned Nepal’s king after his brother, King Birendra’s assassination. With the advent of 2006 all major political parties committed to reform their past mistakes and Maoist rebels came together with the support from Nepali people and jointly went on several days strikes to restore democracy. Finally, King Gynendra handed over the political power to Nepali people and democracy was once again restored in Nepal. Then after a long wait, in 2015, Nepal promulgated its new constitution.

Stretched across diverse picturesque landscape, Nepal lies geographically sandwiched between China and India. Nepal encompasses total surface area of 147,181 sq. km from the Himalayan range in the North to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in the South at the latitude 26°12' to 30°27' North and the longitude 80°4' to 88°12'. Topographically, Nepal has lowland Terai Region in the south, central lower mountains and hills in the middle and Mountain Region in the north. On the basis of diverse ecological settings, regions have been divided into Terai, Siwalik, Middle Mountain, High Mountain and High Himalaya. Terai lies in the northern part of Indo-Gangetic plain extending nearly 800 km from east to west and about 30-40 km from north to south occupying 17% of the total land area with average elevation below 750 m including Terai region, Bhavar Terai and Inner Terai. Siwalik is also called Churia Hills and has elevation ranging from 700 to 1,500 m. Middle Mountain is also referred as Mahabharat range which stretched on 65% of the total land area with elevation ranging from 1,500 to 2,700 m. Kosi, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali river meet the middle mountain at many junctions. High Mountains range from 2,200 to 4,000 m and are naturally resourced with phyllite, schists and quartzite. The soil found here being shallow resist weathering. Whereas High Himalayas occupy 16% of the total land area of Nepal with elevation ranging from 4,000 to above 8,000 m. This region accommodates the eight of the highest peaks in the world; Mt. Everest [(8848m], Kanchanjunga [8586m], Lhotse [8516m], Cho Oyu [8201m], Dhaulagiri [8167m], Mt. Makalu [8463m], Manaslu [8163m] and Annapurna I [8091m].

Ethnic diversity and custom of Nepal make Nepal the most fascinating tourist destination in the world. Official statistics indicates that Nepali population of around 30 millions includes more than 100 ethnic groups speaking nearly 125 different languages and dialects. Northern Himalayan People, Middle Hills and Valley People and Terai People make up the total populations of the nation. Sherpas, Dolpas, Lopas, Baragaonlis and Manangis come under Northern Himalayan People. Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs and majority of Brahmans and Chhetris are regarded as Middle Hills and Valley People. The Terai People are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi and migrants from India. Nepali society is culturally influenced by caste hierarchy. Caste system comprises of Brahmin, Chettri, Vaisya and Shudra. Nepali is the official language. Nepal is a secular country. Hinduism and Buddhism are the two main religions. Regardless of ethnic background or religion, Nepali people are the most hospitable and friendly people you could ever wish to meet. Nepalese revere their guests as gods. Visit to Nepal can surely be an experience of a lifetime.

Cultural Barriers: • Nudity and Sexual Activities in Public is unaccepted. • Open Display of love is not considered acceptable • Some Hindu Temple does not allow Non-Hindus Inside. However, external observation is fine. Explore Himalaya will take you further into the journey of Nepal.

The GMT time of Nepal is +545.

BY LAND: You can go for overland travel to enter Nepal from both India and Tibet. If you are in Tibet, you can enter Nepal by crossing the border at Kodari(closed at the moment). Thereafter, take a bus to Kathmandu. This will take you 7 to 12 hours depending on the road conditions. The easiest and hassle free overland route to Nepal from India is via Gorakhpur using train and the Sunauli/Belahiya border post. The only direct buses from this route to Kathmandu run at night and take approximately 9 hours. Raxaul/Birgung border post can also be used to visit Nepal. But this may not leave you with a pleasant travelling experience. If you are in Darjeeling you can come to Nepal via Karkabhitta. There are also several border crossings in west Nepal. BY AIR Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. There are a number of International Airlines with direct flights to Kathmandu. Please contact us for more details.

All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. It can be extended at the Department of Immigration, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee. People willing to get entry Visa at the air port or any of the land entry points are required to fill a visa form with passport photograph. So, please download form from the link below and get ready while you are passing through the immigration Point. VISA APPLICATION FORM Gratis visa for 30 days available only for tourists of SAARC countries Multiple entry 15 days - US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency Multiple entry 30 days - US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency Multiple entry 90 days - US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency Tourist Visa Extension * Visa extension fee for 15 days or less is US $ 30 or equivalent convertible currency and visa extension fee for more than 15 days is US$ 2 per day * Tourist visa can be extended for a maximum period of 150 days in a single visa year (January - December).

Nepal climate varies according to its season. Autumn and spring are the two most favorable seasons for visiting Nepal. Autumn starts from early September to early December and brings in clear weather with sunny days and warm nights. Whereas spring starts from the beginning of March to the end of May with occasional rain falls. From June to September, is the monsoon season. Trekking is generally difficult and uncomfortable as the climate of Nepal at this time of year brings about hot weather and rain falls almost every day. The trails become muddy and are often leech-infested. Moreover, the mountains are usually obscured by cloud. There are, however, possibilities for summer trekking in the trans-Himalayan regions of Mustang, Dolpo and Tibet. These regions lie in a rain-shadow and therefore receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas. CLIMATE CONSIDERATION FOR TREKKING TRIPS The best seasons to trek in Nepal are autumn, from mid September until end November and spring, from the beginning of March until the mid May. Autumn (mid-September to end-November) This is the most popular time to trek. Generally during autumn, the weather is clear with mild to warm days and cold nights. However, in the higher altitude, the nights drop into freezing temperature. In this season, the mountains views are astonishingly clear. Approach to winter and the mid winter (end-November through March) It is also possible to trek during winter, from December until the end of February. Daytime temperatures will be cooler; however, the nights will often be very cold. The days are generally clear but occasional winter storms can bring snow as low as 2500m. Early October through late November is also the busiest period for trekking. But in mid winter (January through March), trekking is more challenging in the high altitudes with semi-regular snowfall followed by more winter storms, which break the long fine periods. The mid-December to mid-February is the coldest time. As snow gets harder and wind condition remains stabilized in early winter, climbing some of trekking peaks is possible. Climbing Mera peak, Island peak, Chulu, and trekking in Annapurna, Everest, Langtang in early winter have been quite popular over the past few years. Spring and early summer (mid-March through May) In the spring, the mornings are usually clear but afternoon cloud build-up brings occasional showers. The days are mix up with warm and rain, which displays wildflowers like rhododendrons. The whole country is lush and an abundant green at this season. This period instigate the second most popular and pleasant trekking season as this is rice-planting time. Late-march into April is especially beautiful. It is also a good time for climbing as the high passes are usually snow free and the mountain views are still clear in April. Up to May, the weather becomes hazy and disturbed with the clouds. The monsoon (June to mid-September) From June to September, is the monsoon season. Generally the morning is cloudy and cloud wisps form on random ridges and peaks. Trekking at this time of year is generally difficult and uncomfortable as the weather is hot and it rains almost every day. The trails become muddy and are often leech-infested and the mountains are usually obscured by cloud. During April and May, there is an expectation of thunderstorm, hail shower and strong winds among the fine periods. There are, however, possibilities for summer trekking in the trans-Himalayan regions of mustang, Dolpo and Tibet. These regions lie in a rain-shadow and therefore receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas. Average Maximum - Minimum Temepratures (In degrees Celsius) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Kathmandu 19-2 20-4 25-8 30-11 30-16 30-20 30-21 29-20 27-19 23-15 23-4 20-2 Pokhara 20-8 21-8 27-11 30-16 30-19 30-20 30-21 30-21 29-20 27-18 23-11 20-8 Chitwan 24-7 26-8 33-12 35-18 35-20 35-23 33-24 33-24 32-22 31-18 29-12 24-8

From April to the end of October, it is warm in Kathmandu. In Nepal clothing for travelling purpose should be comfortable and light. You can also wear longer shorts provided that it is weather- friendly. In the months of November to the end of March, days are usually warm and evenings are cool. Put on your summer clothes during the day time but in the evening and night it is advisable to carry a light jacket. Winter season starts from December to February. One must be equipped with sufficient winter wears like jackets, sweaters, trousers etc to stay protected from the cold. In accordance to Nepali weather you can have your clothes well-packed in your luggage or you can also purchase clothes of your choice and needs from the clothing stores in Nepal. Clothing requirement for each trip varies. Please check clothing/equipment section of each trip in Explore Himalaya’s website.

During your stay in Nepal if solo travel around the places of Nepal is what is on your mind, you must foremost hire a means of transportation. You can hire bicycle, taxi, jeep or motorbike. Prior to making a solo travel, you must acquire detail information like travel route, safety measures, native people, culture, custom, tradition etc. Majority of Nepali people are very helpful and generous. But in some places local people may not react positively and when you inquire about certain things they may take that as an intrusion in their private lives. In such case you need to be more observant, cautious and sensitive. You can also hire a guide for roaming around the places of Nepal. If you get friendlier with Nepali, some may be willing to guide you around without charging you a penny.

Communication system improved impressively after the advent of modern technology in Nepal. Since the past few decades, Nepal Government has been providing reliable postal services. Many private courier service companies have opened up to provide high quality services. Besides hotels, communication centers in many places of the country provide telephone service for making local and international telephone conversation. Cell phones in today’s time have made communication very easy in Nepal. You can visit local cyber cafes for internet access. While trekking in the remote parts of the Himalayas, you can easily have access to telephone facility but sometimes bad weather may disturb telephone connection. NTC and Ncell are the major telephone operator in Nepal. They are well connected to major cities and major trekking areas of Nepal. For treks on more isolated regions of Nepal, communication may not be well accessed. We can hire a satellite phone for you if getting connected with your friends and family is very essential.

As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the commencement of your trip. If you choose to trek or climb, the major health concern is altitude- related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). There are many hospitals, nursing homes and private clinics in Nepal. Before travelling, it is best to take a complete medical check up from the medical point of view. Carry a medical- kit along with you to be on safe side. Health problems can kill your adventure spirit. So stay fit to bask in the splendor of your journey. Explore Himalaya provides detailed information on altitude- related sickness. For this you can also check ‘trekking’ or ‘climbing’ page of our website.

Kathmandu is a paradise for food lovers. Along with its own ethnic diversities Nepal has also attired international food culture. Besides Nepali food Nepal restaurants here serve varieties of hygienic delicacies from Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, Italian, Australian, Russian, Korean, and Mexican etc to Continental at remarkably reasonable price. If you desire to lead a Nepali lifestyle during your stay in Nepal, then there are also some restaurants serving pure Nepali cuisine (Dal Bhat) which comprises of Puffed rice, lentil soup and varieties of vegetable/ non vegetable curries. Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu, is well known for many excellent restaurants, cafés and pubs. It is also developing as a major hangout place for many young Nepalese and tourists as well. Some Pubs serve exotic and local beverages with DJs playing latest western music. After Kathmandu, Pokhara is the most sought after tourist destination. Pokhara also houses numerous restaurants that serve every kind of delicacies complementing your taste. If you are going for trekking, please check ‘General Information’ section of each trip to get detailed information about meals and water provided by Explore Himalaya.

Nepali currency is termed as Nepalese Rupee. Rupee come in the form of bank paper note with Rs.1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 inscribed on the notes. Nepali coins also come in 1 rupee, 2 rupee, and 5 rupee coins. You can have your money exchanged at banks and hotels. Prior to any transaction, foremost inquire about the commission and charges that will be deducted for the money exchange at Nepal currency exchange rate. Banks are usually open from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm Sundays through Thursdays and from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm on Fridays. Saturdays are weekend holiday. 1USD=100NRs (approximately)

Drinking water from the tap can be risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and shops. If you are travelling in rural areas, carry iodine tablets with you. Drinking water containing iodine tablet will give you absolute protection from viruses, bacteria and parasites. At reasonable price, you can also purchase iodine crystals from local shops. Iodine can produce negative reaction on your body if taken in excess. We carry Sawyer water filters for every trek departure. Please refer to “Drinking Water” section of each trip on Explore Himalaya’s website for more detail on drinking water during trekking.

In the major cities of Nepal, like Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Pokhara, Chitwan, Dharan etc, you will find well resourced shopping malls. From clothes, shoes, accessories, sportswear, electronic goods, cosmetics, food and decoration items to kitchen wares you can purchase any goods. In Nepal shopping of both local and imported goods are possible. Most shops and clothing stores have fixed price tagged along their goods. But in case of small shops, you can bargain the prices for purchasing goods. While shopping in Nepal it is advisable to carry Nepali currency in cash as most of the shops only accept cash. In Kathmandu, Newroad and Kingsway are the most popular places for shopping.

Normally, domestic consumption of electricity in Nepal comes to 220 Volts/50 cycles. Climatic conditions in Nepal may bring in fluctuation in electric supply leading to load shedding. However, Nepal hotels have UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to deal with this electric crisis. It is advisable to carry voltage converters and plug adapters with you while travelling in Nepal for using electric goods. Voltage converters and plug adapters are easily accessible at shopping malls in the cities of Nepal. Head torch for trekking will be a good idea too.

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This was a very special visit, though I would say a bit expensive and I am taking back excellent memories.

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