Answers to commonly asked questions
We know planning an adventure vacation is no small decision, so we’re here to make the process as easy as possible for you. We've been doing this for quite a while, so we’ve got the answers to everything you need to know! Just click on the specific question you'd like to have answered below, chat to us online, or call us on the number that suits you:
1 800 661 9073 [USA and Canada]
1 800 661 907 [Australia]
0808 234 7780 [UK]
0800 234 726 [New Zealand]
0064 3 450 0414 [from anywhere else in the world].
We'd love to hear from you!
How to book
Whenever you’re ready, it’s easy to book your Active Adventure. When you’ve done your research, driven yourself crazy with the choices and made your final decision, follow these steps:
1. Hold your place
The fastest way to reserve your trip is to give the experts a call.
Alternatively, fill out the Availability Request form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. To secure your place you’ll need a $500 per person deposit (the remainder of the balance is due 60 days before your trip start date), payable by credit card, cheque or wire transfer, whichever works best for you. Once you’re all signed up, you’ll receive a confirmation email giving you access via a login on our Active Adventures Club page where you can access your booking pages and fill in your trip details online.
2. Check your international flight options
Your booking pages and trip notes will outline where you need to be and when to start your trip, so you can move forward with booking your flights. If you’re lucky enough to have time, it’s nice to arrive a few days early to settle into the new place and get used to your surroundings. If you’re on a tight schedule it’s no worries, the trip start time will be outlined in your trip information.
We recommend using a variety of methods to search for suitable flights from your own research online (e.g. Skyscanner.net), to contacting a travel agent, to see who comes up with the best fares.
3. Complete your booking pages online
By logging into your online booking information via our club page you’ll gain access to your trip notes, destination information, a detailed gear list and all the information you need for your trip. There are a few things to fill in – medical and dietary information, extra accommodation requests, gear hire requests etc. – to ensure you are well prepared for your adventure vacation.
4. You're all set
You can now start packing your bags and crossing the dates off your calendar. We look forward to seeing you soon!
All accommodation on your trip is provided in Kathmandu and on your trek, so you don't need to worry about a thing. You'll stay in a local Guesthouse in Kathmandu run by our operating partners. When you're out trekking you'll stay in guest houses also known as 'tea houses', with shared bathroom facilities. They are fairly basic by western standards but the location, views and warm Nepalese hospitality make it all part of a wonderful adventure. There is always an area to socialise with your fellow travellers and eat, drink, relax, read and rest your feet after another amazing day in the Nepalese Himalayas.
All your meals are provided apart from on your free days when we find most people enjoy checking out the variety of things on offer in the bigger towns. On your trek you'll eat in the local hotels (known as tea houses) with the main dish on offer being 'dhal bhat' a sturdy meal of lentils and rice that will set you up well for your day of hiking. If this doesn't take your fancy there is plenty of choice on the menu from chapatis, curry, rice, potatoes and even pizzas in some places! We recommend avoiding meat in Nepal and sticking to vegetarian fare so as to avoid any stomach upsets that may impact your experience.
You're mostly using the trusty transport of your own two feet in Nepal. There aren't too many roads in the Himalayas! You'll be using local trade routes and come across many local people selling their wares along the way, delivering goods by foot to businesses further up the mountains and travelling to visit their families. To get to the trek starting point we travel by plane to Lukla for the 'EBC' Everest Base Camp and Khumbu treks, by plane to Pokhara and on to Jomsom for the Mustang trek, and by plane to Pokhara and then bus to the 'AST' Annapurna Sanctuary trek.
You will be accompanied on your trek by an Active Adventures guide and a local team of guides and porters. They will work closely together to ensure your trip is special, fun, hassle free, safe and successful. From organising your lodgings each night to carrying your gear, this is a team you couldn't do without. They are used to working together, have a great team bond and are always looking for ways to make your trip special. They will keep you entertained, motivated and happy, even on the most challenging days. We are extremely proud of our guiding team in Nepal and the way they work together, and we look forward to you meeting them on your adventure.
I'm planning a honeymoon. Which would be the best trip for us?
Any of our trips would suit an adventurous honeymoon couple since all our trips are quite flexible and require very little planning on your part! We've done all the research and you can let us worry about the logistics - all you have to do is turn up and enjoy an awesome honeymoon. What a great way to start out married life!
When is the best time to go to Nepal?
The best months to travel in Nepal are the months either side of the monsoon season, so: March, April or May (Spring) - the monsoon runs through June, July and August - and then September, October or November (Autumn). The dry season runs from September through to May, but keep in mind it’s cold in Winter from early December through mid-February. October and November is peak season for tourists, with the Annual Dashain Festival falling in October. Because the landscape is green and lush from the recent rains, the air is crisp and clean and the views of the mountains are crystal clear. Flights and lodges can be busy during these months so it’s best not to leave it to the last minute. Generally speaking Autumn and Spring both have warm daytime temperatures, clear skies for the views and better weather for trekking, rafting and exploring. Our 'Mustang' trek is not affected by the monsoon as it's a little further north towards the Tibetan border, so August is a great time for that particular trek.
Is Nepal a safe place to visit?
Yes! People in Nepal have a strong belief that guests are equal to God, so all visitors to Nepal can expect the warmest of welcomes. This also means that Nepal is a very safe place to travel and the crime rate is very low. The only real concern to a traveller is petty theft, so we recommend taking the same common sense precautions you would in any other city. Don't bring valuable things with you unless necessary for your trip. Keep your money and other valuables in a money belt or pouch under your clothes. Lock your bags and luggage and leave valuable items you don’t need for the day (e.g. passports and credit cards) in the hotel safe.
Is Nepal safe for female travellers?
Absolutely. Nepal is a safe country for all travellers, including women, however, women should still be cautious. Some Nepali men may have peculiar ideas about the morality of Western women, given Nepali men's exposure to Western films portraying 'immodest' clothing and holiday flings with locals. Avoid unwanted attention by dressing modestly; a good rule in Asian countries is cover your body from your elbows to below your knees. This means wearing clothes that cover the shoulders (no singlets) and thighs (no shorts) - take your cue from the local people if you need to gauge what's acceptable. You might find that a long skirt or sarong is very useful when visiting sacred sites.
Can you help me find international flights to Nepal?
If you’d like to shop around a little, try www.kayak.com. Or if you’d prefer booking your flights directly, we recommend checking out Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines first.
Do I need to book my own domestic flights to Lukla, Jomsom or Pokhara?
All of our trips start and end in Kathmandu so you'll just need to book your international flights to and from Kathmandu. We'll handle the domestic flights within Nepal for you as stated in your itinerary, it's all included in your trip fare.
Can I use my frequent flyer miles to get there?
Many of our clients have managed to get the international portion of their airfare or an upgrade to business or first class by trading in miles. There are two rules for doing this:
1. Get in early! Like really early - some fares open up a year or more before travel, so if you feel an exciting adventure coming on, call your airline frequent flier programme NOW!!
2. Things change! If you've called your airline, and they've said there's no availability for your frequent flier miles, don't worry too much. Call them back the next day... and the next... and the next…
What is your cancellation policy?
We require a US$500 deposit per person per trip to secure your place on your chosen trip/s. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable to another departure date or trip. In the event that it becomes necessary for you to cancel the trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:
• Cancellation made over 60-days prior to departure date - US$500 deposit per trip
• Cancellation between 60 and 30-days of departure date - 50% of total trip fare
• Cancellation of any trip 30-days or less prior to departure date - 100% of trip fare
A cancellation will be effective from when Active Adventures receive written notification of the cancellation. This cancellation policy includes voluntary or involuntary early departure from a trip. No refunds will be given for missed or unused services such as accommodation, activities or meals. You are strongly advised to take out cancellation insurance that will cover cancellation fees at the time of booking.
Do you recommend buying travel insurance?
As an Active Adventures Himalayas traveller, you're required to have full travel insurance cover - please be aware that some insurance companies requireinsurance to be purchased within 7 days of deposit payment. We recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes medical cover, emergency repatriation, trip cancellation and other travel mishaps (e.g. flight cancellations or delays, trip interruption, theft or loss of luggage and personal effects).
Travel insurance can be obtained through local travel agents, some credit card providers or online brokers such as www.worldnomads.com or www.travelguard.com. These and other insurance policy packages can be compared at www.insuremytrip.com. We recommend keeping all travel papers (invoices, receipts, police reports etc.) when you travel in case you need them later to support a claim.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, everyone visiting Nepal (except those with an Indian passport) will need to apply for an entry visa upon arrival in Kathmandu. You will be issued with an application form either on your flight, or at the airport when you arrive. There is often a queue at the airport in Kathmandu as immigration officials check through passports for previous visas, so get in the queue quickly and prepare for a bit of a wait. You’ll need US$25 cash (for up to 15 days) or US$40 cash (for up to 30 days), a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your arrival in Nepal, and 2 passport photos for your visa application to get a multiple entry visa.
Do I need any immunisations to travel to Nepal?
Nepal does not officially require any immunisations for entry into the country, but the further off the beaten track you go, the more necessary it is to take precautions. Travellers who have come from an area infected with yellow fever are required to be vaccinated before entering the country. For our trips to Nepal (less than a month long) we recommend getting vaccinated against Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio (infectious hepatitis) and Tetanus. These are our guidelines only and you’ll need to check with your local travel clinic for the latest advice. We also recommend recording all vaccinations on an International Health Certificate, available from a doctor or government health department.
Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me?
Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.
Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: info-hm (at) activeadventures (dot) com
What kind of things are there to do on my free day in Kathmandu?
There are heaps of activities to enjoy and places to explore in and around Kathmandu, whether you want to experience some of Nepal’s rich culture and history, take some time to relax and reflect upon your time in this amazing country, or keep the adventures coming! If you’re keen to stick to the city, then you could head out and explore the vibrant streets and shops of Thamel, browse for souvenirs and relax with a cheesecake and cup of Nepali tea up on one of the rooftop cafes. Or you can choose to escape the hustle and bustle and soak up the serenity of the Garden of Dreams, just a 2 minute walk from hotels in Thamel and a million miles away from the city. There are also some awesome day trips just a short bus or taxi ride away. Patan is famed for its local arts and craft scene and museum, or you can wander the cobbled streets of Bhaktapur, the country’s best-preserved medieval town. Or head for the hills! Hire a guide and go for a day hike up Nagajun hill!
If you fancy getting a glimpse into the beautiful melting pot of religions in Nepal, visit the spectacular Pashupatinath (Hindu) or Bodhnath (Buddhist) temples, just on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Nepal is also famous for being one of the world’s best outdoor adventure destinations, which is one of the main reasons we love it here so much! So if you’re keen to hit that adrenaline high or try something a little different whilst you’re here you’ve got heaps of options to choose from – take to the water and learn to kayak, or go white water rafting on one of Nepal’s mighty rivers; mountain bike in the Kathmandu Valley, bungy jump 160m at the Last Resort, go canyoning and abseil into a waterfall, or hone your climbing skills at the climbing wall in Kathmandu and imagine yourself summiting one of the many famous peaks you’ll have seen along the way!
What time zone is Nepal in?
Nepal Time (NPT) is the time zone for Nepal. It is +5:45 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Or check on www.worldtimeserver.com
What types of plugs and voltage do you use in Nepal?
The electrical current in Nepal is 220 volts, 50Hz and round two- and three-pin plugs are used. Plug adapters are readily available from travel stores and airport shops. If your country doesn’t use a 220V AC system (e.g. USA = 110V AC) you may need some kind of converter, though many appliances have inbuilt ones these days (e.g. iPods, laptops and camera chargers). If in doubt ask at your nearest camera or electrical store.
How much luggage can I bring?
You can bring one medium sized piece of luggage and one daypack each. In Kathmandu we will give you an Active Adventures Himalayas porter bag of around 50L of space for your sleeping gear and teahouse clothing. Your main bag will then be left in the hotel in Kathmandu in secure storage with anything you need at the end of your trip. Your daypack should be big enough to fit your rain gear, camera, water bottles/hydration system, and anything else you need during the day while you're hiking.
What should I wear for hiking?
We recommend wearing clothes made from the quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. There are a wide variety of these types of clothes available at outdoor stores such as REI or through brands such as Marmot, Patagonia and North Face, although, some "no-name" brands can be just as good and more economical. Leave your jeans at home - they are not suitable for trekking and get very heavy and uncomfortable if they get wet. In the cooler months we recommend using thermal underwear - these are worn under your pants and t-shirts for an extra layer of warmth. On top we recommend sweaters made from fleece or wool - again because they keep you warm even if you get wet. As an outer layer we recommend you bring a good waterproof jacket made from a fabric like gore-tex or Marmot's PreCip. You will be provided with a full and detailed gear list when you book your trip.
What kind of clothing should I be packing?
In general, the best way to pack for a trip into the mountains is to have a layered clothing system - this way you're prepared no matter what the weather as it can change quite considerably throughout the day. You should have a non-cotton layer next to your skin (cotton draws warmth from your body when it gets damp, so a man-made fabric is better), then a long sleeved layer, then a warm layer and a jacket. Quick-drying t-shirts and fabrics are a good idea as they can be easily rinsed through and dried overnight. You also need some good trekking socks to keep your feet comfortable and well supported. Once you're booked we'll send you a full gear list on what to bring along.
Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?
You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not suitable for what you will be doing. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, including uneven surfaces, slippery rocks, and tree roots. Waterproof boots are a good idea if you have them as there's a good chance you'll be crossing streams and rivers too. As far as your boots go, it's essential that they are broken in and not brand new – don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll be the first person in the world to hop into a new pair of hiking boots and not get hideous blisters! Blisters are painful, uncomfortable and easily avoided with a little preparation. Your boots need to have full ankle support, a stiff sole and a high profile tread. Wear them in well before your trip and you’ll be rewarded with comfy, happy feet!
Will I have access to the internet and WiFi?
Internet cafes are everywhere in Kathmandu and Pokhara. There are internet cafe's at Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and Khumjung so you should be able to check your email at least once or twice during your 'EBC' and Khumbu trip as well. Phone centre's are also available at Namche Bazaar and Dingboche.
WiFi is commonly available throughout the Annapurna Valley, while in the Everest valley WiFi is available at the teahouses in Namche Bazaar, Deboche, Periche and Kumjung at a charge.
Is tipping expected in Nepal?
Tipping is accepted in Nepal (and appreciated!). Your loose change (or 5%) is fine in cheaper places; around 10% in more expensive restaurants. Round up the fare for taxi drivers. Many of our people also choose to tip their guides and porters at the end of an awesome trip and when you see how hard your porters work you’ll see why! Tips are gratefully accepted in either Nepalese Rupees or US dollars.
How much spending money should I bring?
USD$10-15 per person, per day should be plenty for extra food or drinks you might want and any souvenirs you would like to buy. Drinks and things tend to get more expensive the higher into the mountains you go, so be prepared for the different prices in different places.
How do I pay for things?
We recommend you bring a variety of payment options with you to Nepal. US dollars are most easily exchanged and a Visa Debit ATM card and a credit card should be carried in case of emergency. Nepalese rupees are the standard currency and are hard to sell outside of Nepal.
Is the easiest option and most widely accepted form of payment in Nepal. There are a multitude of exchange booths lining the street in Kathmandu and Pokhara which do not charge any commission. They prefer to exchange US dollars and offer the best exchange rates. Away from major centres, changing a Rs 1000 note can be very difficult, so it is always a good idea to keep a stash of small-denomination notes. Even in Kathmandu, many small businesses - especially rickshaw and taxi drivers - simply don't have sufficient spare money to allow them the luxury of carrying a wad of change.
ATM / debit cards
There are many ATM lounges and banks in Kathmandu and Pokhara. ATM’s are accessible 24 hours a day, banks operate within normal business hours. You’ll be able to use your debit card if you have a Visa or Mastercard sign on it and choose the credit account. Please note the bank will charge you a fee for each transaction.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted at the hotel in Kathmandu and some other shops and restaurants, with additional transactions fees. You should notify your bank that you will be using your cards in Nepal before leaving home and be aware that your bank may charge a fee for each foreign ATM transaction.
Where can I exchange currency?
Except in Solu Khumbu and on the Annapurna treks, changing foreign money is likely to be very difficult if not impossible, so bring enough money for the whole trek and don't count on being able to change Rs 1000 notes except in Namche Bazaar and Jomsom. Away from major centres, changing a Rs 1000 note can be very difficult, so it is always a good idea to keep a stash of small-denomination notes. Even in Kathmandu, many small businesses - especially rickshaw and taxi drivers - simply don't have sufficient spare money to allow them the luxury of carrying a wad of change.
What currency do they use in Nepal?
The Nepali rupee (Rs) is divided into 100 paisa (p). There are coins for denominations of one, two, five and 10 rupees, and bank notes in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. You can check the latest exchange rate at xe.com
What is the accommodation like?
All of our Active Adventures Himalayas trips are active and adventure-oriented, taking you to some wild and remote areas of the Nepal Himalayas. We’ve chosen local tea houses (small guest houses run by the local people) and lodges to stay in along the way. They’re chosen for their comfort, cleanliness and charm – not the number of channels available on the television! Most of the tea houses and lodges have twin rooms and are located in spectacular locations with stunning views that will take your breath away when you wake up in the morning! On the Mustang Trek you'll be camping for some of the nights, giving you an opportunity to sample life in the 'Forbidden Kingdom of Lo' as it has been for centuries.
What if I need a special diet?
We can deal with all sorts of different diets during main meals, like…
- vegan (no meat or animal products)
- vegetarian (no meat products)
- pescatarian (vegetarian, but eat fish) • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
- gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
- lactose intolerant (no dairy products)
That said, we recommend everyone sticks to vegetarian fare (even if you’re not usually vegetarian!) for the duration of your trip to avoid any stomach upsets. The food in Nepal is healthy and nutritious, with things like lentils, potatoes, rice and vegetables making up the most basic meals. The restaurants in Kathmandu are varied and plentiful! You will get the opportunity to specify your particular dietary requirements before your trip. For snacks, if you require say gluten or dairy free foods and you have a favourite snack food from home or cereal that you like, we suggest you bring some with you. For example, gluten-free muesli bars, cereals or bread and dairy-free chocolate are hard to come by, instead they have nuts and dried fruit and some gluten/dairy-free biscuits available which your guide can pick up for you. If you have a favourite snack or brand that works for you at home, bring it along.
What kind of food will we eat?
The staple food of Nepalese people is "daal, bhaat, tarkari" (lentil soup or curried vegetables with rice) and this hearty meal is something that you’ll certainly enjoy whilst out on the trails. There are other options too though, so don’t worry if it doesn’t sound like your kinda thing! In Kathmandu and Pokhara, you’ll find various restaurants serving Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Indian and all sorts. We recommend trying some Newari cuisine: the Newars (original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley) have a very rich history of culinary expertise. Another food that you shouldn't miss are momos – these are like wee dumplings filled with a very tasty vegetarian or meaty filling and can be found in most Nepalese restaurants.
How many people are there on each trip?
Will I need trekking permits?
Yes, and we sort them out for you. Everyone who enters one of Nepal’s many national parks requires a trekking permit for their time there. We’ll organise your permit before you arrive in Nepal – just make sure that you bring 2 passport photos (in addition to the 2 you need for your entry visa) with you that can be attached to your permits when you arrive and be prepared for them to be checked along your trekking route.
Can I drink the water in Nepal?
No, the water in Nepal is not safe for travellers to drink. We recommend using treated water at all times, including for brushing teeth. Plastic bottles are causing a huge environmental impact in Nepal, with plastic bottles littering some of the highest and most stunning places in the Nepal Himalayas. I’m sure you’ll agree with us that this is heart-breaking to see, so please bring a water bottle to refill with treated water rather than buying plastic bottles, or reuse the same plastic bottle for the duration of your trip. We will provide you with Aqua-tabs for your trip, though if you’re arriving before your trip starts, or staying on later, the hotel you will be staying in will provide purified water and you can purchase more purification tablets from any supermarket or pharmacy in Kathmandu.
Is altitude a concern in the Himalayas?
Some of our trips will take you to higher altitudes, so it’s important to be aware of the causes and risks of altitude sickness, and how we manage them. You’ll be accompanied on your trip by a very experienced guide and we’ll be taking all the recommended (and more!) acclimatisation days to allow you time to get used to the higher elevations. Altitude sickness is something that can occur above 2,400m or 8,000ft and affects everybody differently regardless of fitness (after all no-body is the same). Unless you live somewhere with high elevation, it's difficult to predict how your body will react to the higher altitudes, though there are some things you can do along the way to help you acclimatise.
One of the most important of these is to walk slowly and drink plenty of water – it’s really important that your body stay well hydrated at all times and you never over-exert yourself. Also, eat light meals to make it easy for your body to digest food, avoid coffee and alcohol which dehydrate you and slow your breathing down, take plenty of rests and keep yourself warm at all times. If you are concerned or have any problems, then tell your guide straight away. If you are concerned, chat to your doctor about a prescription for Diamox which is proven to help with altitude. If you need any other information please get in touch – we know the place well and we can give you plenty more specific advice.
Learn more here about dealing with altitude
Any good reads about the Himalayas?
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
Himalaya by Michael Palin
The Velvet Shyness of Their Eyes by Barbara Scott
So Close to Heaven by Barbara Crossette
Stones of Silence by George Schaller
The Heart of the World – A journey into Tibet’s Lost Paradise by Ian Baker
Do I really need everything on the gear list?
Yes, you really do need all of the required items on the gear list. We want you to be prepared for all types of weather and keep you warm and happy. The Himalayas can be cold and rainy at any time of year, although you may have good weather for most of your trip, it is always better to venture into the outdoors prepared. We will do a gear check before heading into the mountains, and if you don't have any of the required clothing items, we can hire anything missing for a minimal cost from a gear shop in Kathmandu. In saying that Kathmandu is a great place for shopping and purchasing outdoor gear for a smaller price than you may pay at home. They have legitimate North Face, Marmot, Black Yak and Sherpa stores that charge US prices or below. Also there is plethora of quality Nepal brands who can fit you out for your trekking experience at Nepal prices. Make sure you bring the essentials though: Sturdy hiking boots (which you have worn in at home while training), a reliable Waterproof/Windproof Jacket and rain pants, a padlock for your luggage and a trusty pair of polarised sun-glasses to protect the eyes.