Nepal has one of the greatest altitude variations on earth, ranging from lowland plains to 8000m peaks. To the south the country is bordered and shares a band of lowland plains with India. Heading north rising from the plains are the foothills of the great ranges. At 2000m the climate is warm and temperate and it is here that we find the most populated regions including Kathmandu and Pokhara. Continuing northwards, we encounter the Lesser Himalaya, with an alpine climate pines & birch are the predominant flora, however much has been cleared for cultivation. Despite the colder climate, permanent settlements are found in this region up to 4000m. Above this we come to the Greater Himalaya, which shares its border with Tibet to the far north. The terrain rises to high mountains reaching 8000m, the most famous of which is Mount Everest. The perpetual snow makes vegetation here sparse or non-existent.
The time in Nepal is GMT +5:45 hours.
The national language of Nepal is Nepali, which is similar in structure and vocabulary to Hindi. There are many ethnic languages spoken in Nepal and often the national language is the second or even third language learned. Most people you are likely to encounter will speak some English and Nepal is therefore an easy place to make friends and get to know local people. We do recommend that you take a pocket phrase book with you and learn some basics such as common greetings and typical polite enquiries. Any attempt to speak the local language is usually warmly appreciated and is all part of the fun of adventure travel.
October to December and March to May are the best times for trekking in Nepal. These months either side of the summer monsoon season are neither too hot in the foothills nor too cold in the higher elevations and they offer the best conditions for trekking. Pre-monsoon is the main climbing season for Everest and at this time there will be many expeditions at the base camp. The post-monsoon months usually offer the clearest skies and the most settled weather. As a rough guide, mean temperatures will decrease a little over 1ºC for every 200 metre rise of altitude.
The currency of Nepal is the Rupee. It is not necessary to obtain local currency prior to departure. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash. If you prefer not to carry all of your spending money in cash, it is possible to withdraw money from ATMs in Kathmandu using your debit or credit card.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) and a current Nepalese Visa are required for this trip. The easiest way to obtain your Nepalese visa is on arrival in Kathmandu. You will require a passport size photograph and the visa fee. You can also apply for a Nepalese Visa in advance from the Nepalese Embassy in your home country.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A'. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually not required for trips in the Himalaya or foothills. If you intend to visit the Terrai region of Nepal (such as during an extension to Chitwan National Park) Malarial prophylaxis may be recommended. A very good online resource is fit for travel: fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Lonely Planet Guide to Nepal. Lonely Planet
Rough Guide to Nepal. Rough Guides
Trekking and Climbing in Nepal. Steve Razzetti.
Everest: A Trekkers Guide. Kev Reynolds. Cicerone
Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya. Stan Armington.
Into Thin Air. Jon Krakauer
The Climb. Anatoli Boukreev
The Ascent of Everest. John Hunt & Edmund Hillary
Sherpas & Himalayan Mountaineering. Sherry B. Ortner
A History of Nepal. John Whelpton
Field Guide to Birds of the Himalayas. Bikram Grewal
Portraits of People: Nepal Himalayas. Eric Valli
Nepal - Lonely Planet Pictorial. Richard I'Anson
The High Himalaya. Art Wolfe Maps Everest Base Camp. 1: 50,000
Nepal / National Geographic Maps