While we are always happy to offer advice directly you might find that many of your questions about volunteering in Nepal have already been answered here. If you have more questions before you apply please contact us, also make sure to read our legal notice.
Before Your Go
Your £100 deposit needs to be paid a minimum of 2 months before your placement begins.
Pay your deposit then either pay for the placement in one payment or fundraise from friends and family or through events. If you choose to fundraise for us through Justgiving.com you help us by spreading the word about our work and by fundraising for the projects you could be involved with.
The Mountain Trust asks for a non-refundable £150 deposit and then a commitment to raise a minimum amount:
£250 for up to 1 month
£400 for up to 2 months
£650 for 3 months or more
Both the deposit and the fundraising should be done through our justgiving.com. Information on how to set this up can be found in our Fundraising Pack on the downloadable resources page. All funds go directly to fund the project that you will be working on. You don’t need to worry about having a deadline for the fundraising – so long as your deposit is in then you can fundraise all the way up to the day you depart.
Before you can go to Nepal with us we ask you to provide evidence that you have travel and health insurance, that you have paid/fundraised an agreed amount, and that you are aware of your legal responsibilities regarding visas. We also require emergency contact details and a scanned copy of your passport photo page.
We have had many talented Nepali interns in the past and hope to have more in the future. Although we try to be as inclusive as possible in who we work with, the nature of our organisation and funding means that we cannot offer funded placements. Everyone is welcome to work with us and we would encourage you to apply.
Full details of what vaccines should be taken can be found in our Volunteer Welcome Pack.
Most restaurants and cafes are more and more hygiene conscious, so there are not many places that are unsafe to eat. Generally avoid the fish, as the pollution in Lake Phewa is quite high and can cause stomach upset. Most people experience some sort of tummy upset but its all about knowing how to manage it. If it persists then the CIWEC hospital on Lakeside is the best tourist hospital in Pokhara and will examine you. Remember to take your insurance details with you.
In many of the small street shops, you can top up your bottle with filtered water for 10Rs (7p), and chilled plastic bottles are readily available for 25Rs (18p). When visiting rural areas, they do often have filtered water available but if not, just ask for boiled water (tatopani in Nepali)
To find out how much the Nepali Rupee is currently worth visit a currency exchange website. Make sure to check before you go.
The simple answer is no. Nepali Rupees aren’t available outside the country. You can easily convert foreign cash to Nepali Rupees in Kathmandu, otherwise just take some out at an ATM.
It is a good idea to take some cash with you in case of emergencies. Usually ATMs are reasonably easy to find. Carrying large amounts of cash could be unsafe and is not recommended.
Placements in Pokhara with the Mountain Trust are relatively inexpensive. It is usually safe to budget around 2000-2500 Nepali Rupees (Rs) per day for all costs (travel, accommodation, food, activities). Budget hotels can cost as little as 400Rs per night and local transport is virtually free (many bus journeys cost around 20Rs in Pokhara). Add to this your flights, insurance, visas and a contingency. Jet Airways offer the lowest cost fares for a return flight and the earlier you book the cheaper the price.
Yes. Generally. Please check with your bank. You will also need to tell your bank that you might be using your card in Nepal. If you do not tell them they might block it until you contact them, causing you unnecessary problems. Transactions come with a fee, check with your card provider for fee amounts. There are several different ATMs in Pokhara and Kathmandy that you can use Nabil Bank will allow you to take out up to 30,000Rs (with a 500Rs charge) and Siddharta Bank does not charge for taking out up to 10,000Rs but you will still have to pay commission.
Most interns and volunteers travel on either a 30 day or 90 day tourist visa. Visa regulations can be found here. We would recommend travelling on a tourist visa, as this is the easiest one to get. Volunteers and interns are responsible for their own visa arrangements and ensuring compliance with local laws. Please see our legal notice. More information about visas can be found in the Welcome Pack, including pricing and extensions.
Things to Take
Mobiles are very useful when you’re on placement. If you are in Nepal for more than a few weeks you will probably find getting a local SIM card quite valuable, you can use your own phone if it is unlocked. It costs relatively little but you will require 2 passport photos and a photocopy of your passport (they often do one at the shop, or you can do your own in the office). If your phone isn’t unlocked, you can buy a cheap second-hand phone and local SIM. Make sure that if your phone is valuable that you have insurance coverage.
Remember to dress sensibly for the weather and modestly as a mark of respect to your hosts. Men can wear shorts but trousers are always preferred. Women should try to keep shoulders covered and no cleavage or short shorts or skirts. In Kathmandu you will see Nepali young people dressed in provocative ways but this is uncommon outside the capital and is frowned upon by older Nepalis. If you are planning to go trekking or exploring take a hat and some quality sunglasses. During the monsoon season, you will probably want to take an umbrella with you, as it is often too hot for waterproofs. However, if you forget there are plenty of places where you can buy one. It does occasionally rain at other times of the year, so we would suggest to take one with you whatever season you’re going. For more information about the Climate please refer to the Volunteer Pack.
In Nepal they use 220-240V at 50MHz. The plug sockets are two-pin european style sockets. Adaptors for UK plugs are easily found in any electronics store in Nepal. American devices will need a voltage converter (step-down transformer).
During Your Placement
We have a long-standing arrangement with Dream Nepal Hotel in Thamel district, the main tourist area of the city, close to Durbar Square and the Royal Palace Museum. They offer a $28 rate to include one night’s accommodation, an airport pick up, breakfast, and bus ticket to Pokhara. Of course, if you would like to stay longer in Kathmandu before beginning your placement, then this can be arranged with the hotel. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, then please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org, stating that you are an MT volunteer and would like to book the package. Once you have received confirmation, please send us a copy so we know that you are booked in.
Pokhara is a large city about 7 hours drive north-west of Kathmandu, where our office is based and where our staff work from. The bus is the cheapest way to get there, and costs around 700NR (Nepali Rupees). You can take the plane as well, which only takes half an hour, but is much more expensive ($118). This can also be booked through the hotel. Just mention in your original enquiry as this will change the price of the package. Domestic flights in Nepal do have a poor safety record so although the bus takes more time, it is a good way to see the countryside and get a taste of Nepal. Whatever option you choose, please let us know so we know where to collect you and what time. Your transfer to your accommodation is provided free of charge.
Yes. Mobile internet is available. There is high-speed wifi in the MT office and in most hotels, as well as restaurants and cafes. We would recommend you bring your own device, either laptop or tablet, as there is only one desktop available in the office. You can also buy data plans on your Nepali SIM, which usually work in rural areas as well.
Travel agents are ubiquitous in Nepal and you will easily be able to organise your own travel. Please refer to the Welcome Pack for more information about places to visit, as well as things to do in and around Pokhara.
There are more hotels than hostels in Pokhara, and the price of the rooms is relatively low. You are usually looking at between £6 and £10 for budget accommodation, though there are more up-market hotels. Quite a few hotels offer discounts for people staying for longer periods of time but you have to negotiate this in person.
Yes. We try to offer homestay accommodation to all interns and volunteers where possible. Homestays give a unique cultural experience and are often an excellent way to learn about local customs, food and language. There are a limited number of host families and homestays are subject to availability. These are generally 600 Rs (£4), to include accommodation and two meals. We also have accommodation available in the office at the cost of £5 per night. Please refer to the Welcome Pack.
Not usually. Most people in Nepal have some knowledge of English. If you are able to learn some key words in Nepali you will be able to get along a lot better. As such, we have included a short list of easy Nepali phrases on the downloadable resources page. Nepali people really appreciate it when foreigners learn Nepali. We always have translators on hand and volunteers will always have an interpreter to accompany them when they go on site visits. If you want to learn more Nepali, you can arrange lessons whilst in Pokhara. All details are included in the Volunteer Pack.