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 Placement
How much is the Nepali Rupee worth?
To find out how much the Nepali Rupee is currently worth visit a currency exchange website. Make sure to check before you go.
How much should I budget for a volunteering placement?
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.
How much does the placement cost?
The Mountain Trust asks for a non-refundable £100 deposit and then a commitment to raise a minimum amount (either £250 or £350 depending on placement) through justgiving.com to fund our charity projects and programmes. You have the option to pay the £250/£350 in one payment.
What kind of visa should I get?
Most interns and volunteers travel on a 60 day tourist visa. Visa regulations can be found here. Interns are responsible for their own visa arrangements and ensuring compliance with local laws. Please see our legal notice. If you are planning to travel on a tourist visa you should mark the purpose of your travels as 'holiday'.
Should I get a visa before I go?
Ideally, yes. They are issued at Nepali Embassies around the world. It is possible to buy at the airport but you must take the correct amount in US dollars and be prepared to wait up to 2 hours in the queue.
Should I take a mobile phone?
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. If not you can buy a cheap second-hand phone and local SIM. Make sure that if your phone is valuable that you have insurance coverage.
What kind of clothing should I pack?
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.
What kind of plugs etc. do they have in Nepal? Do I need to take a travel adaptor?
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).
Can I get Nepali Rupees before I 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.
Should I take cash with me?
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.
Do I need to provide references?
Please provide reference details. We may contact them before offering a placement.
When do I pay my placement deposit?
Your £100 deposit needs to be paid a minimum of 2 months before your placement begins.
What requirements do you have before I start working with the Mountain Trust?
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.
How do I fundraise for the voluntary position/internship placement?
We encourage interns and volunteers to use their friends, family and colleagues to spread the word. You can run sponsored events (talk to us first) or simply ask for donations. We suggest that you use Justgiving.com to fundraise and try to use as much social media as possible to publicise your events and placement.
What's the difference between interns and volunteers? Is an internship different to a volunteer position?
Interns generally stay for longer (6 weeks plus) and often work with our partner organisations. Once you have completed your placement you have the right to be called an 'intern'. Volunteers generally stay for around a month and are involved with our hospital and education projects and programmes.
What is the usual length of placements?
Placements can be as short as 1 week and as long as 1 year. It depends on your availability.
Is there an application deadline or set dates for placements?
All placements are year-round rolling recruitment apart from the Health and Hygiene Teaching placement. This programme runs in the summer months only (June - September). Applications are encouraged for all other volunteering and internship opportunities.
Can anyone apply?
Yes. There is no bar on applicants and we welcome applications from anybody. However, your application does not guarantee a placement.
I pay a £100 deposit, then what?
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.
Does the Mountain Trust provide internships to Nepali students?
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.
What about jabs/vaccinations? What do I need?
Recommended vaccinations are as follows: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hep A, Typhoid Fever. Vaccinations to be considered: Hep B, Rabies, Cholera, Japanese Encephalitis (JE), Tuberculosis (TB), Malarial prophylaxis if you're travelling to the south of Nepal, although it should be noted that no case of malaria has been reported by travellers in Chitwan in 20 years. Do consult your GP if you have not been outside of Europe before. Many of the recommended vaccinations are free on the NHS provided you leave enough time to have a whole course.
During Your Placement
What weather/climate can I expect?
Seasons in Nepal roughly correlate to those in other parts of the northern hemisphere. Winter falls in November - February, March - June is hot and dry, June - August is monsoon, August to November is warm occasionally wet and often sunny. Temperatures in winter vary from 5 to 20 degrees Celsius. Temperatures in Summer are often 28 to 34 degrees Celsius. Monsoon is hot and wet and sandals, an umbrella and a waterproof bag are advised.
Who will I meet in Nepal from The Mountain Trust? Can I have a picture of them so I can recognise them?
You will be met at the airport by our Kathmandu Representative and, if you are travelling to Pokhara you will undoubtedly meet the Nepal team. For more information about who we are and who you will meet please go to our 'The Team' page.
Will I have access to the internet?
Yes. Mobile internet is available. Many places have wifi for free in tourist and urban areas, and there are many internet cafes too.
How do I organise internal travel?
Travel agents are ubiquitous in Nepal and you will easily be able to organise your own travel. Our staff are also happy to help.
Do you have any advice on cultural sensitivity?
Try to remember that Nepal has always been a deeply religious country. Most people are Hindus and many are Buddhist. The Hindu customs around cleanliness and food in Nepal are very important for some families. Try to do some background reading about taboos and cultural faux pas, for instance in the Lonely Planet guidebook.
Do you offer airport pickups?
Yes, a member of our team will meet you at the airport and help you find overnight accommodation in Kathmandu. They will also be able to help you with onward travel if you are going to be volunteering in Pokhara or elsewhere. This is an entirely free service for interns and volunteers.
What are the hotels in Nepal like?
Most hotels are fairly basic but will generally have en-suite facilities. Make sure that your hotel is clean before you book and always check your room thoroughly. Many hotels have padlocks on the room doors. Take your own if you want to make your room super-secure. Hotels range in price from 400Rs (about £2.50) to 4000Rs (about £25) per night. It is always best to pay for your stay in Nepali Rupees.
Do you offer homestay accommodation/family-stay accommodation?
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. Please contact us for more information or go to the homestays page.
What kind of food can I expect in Nepal?
Nepali food is very similar to Indian food. Meat is readily available but most Nepali people stick to a vegetarian diet.
Will I get ill in Nepal?
Possibly. A stomach bug is easily picked up from unclean food/water. Take sensible precautions like purifying your water, eating in clean restaurants and keeping good hand hygiene. Also, make sure your jabs are up to date and ensure that you know where the nearest doctor/hospital is in case of need. Always seek medical attention if you are severely ill.
Will my debit card work in Nepal?
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.
How do I arrange travel to Pokhara/Bharatpur?
Travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara or Bharatpur is easy. Regular buses ply between each location. Cost is from 500Rs to 800Rs. Ask at any reputable travel agents or ask a member of our staff if you need assistance.
Do I get a phone number or some sort of emergency contact number?
Yes. Our staff are on hand to help out in emergencies. You can call them at any time in the case of a genuine emergency and during office hours if you just need some advice.
I can't speak Nepali - is language a problem?
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. Nepali people really appreciate it when foreigners learn Nepali. We usually have translators on hand for our health and education projects.