When you Get to Nepal

Detailed information about Kathmandu is on the
Lonely Planet Kathmandu Page

Kathmandu Airport

You can change money to Nepalese rupees at the airport when you arrive, though there is often a long line, so it's often best to wait and change money at your hotel or a bank. The exchange rate is fixed daily by the national bank in Nepal. In the autumn of 1999 it was about Rs 68 to the US dollar; one rupee is a little less than 1.5 cents US. For the latest exchange rates click here.

After you clear immigration and customs, you will exit into a rumpus of overzealous taxi drivers and hotel touts. If you have arranged your trek through an agent in your own country, there will be a representative to help you through the crowd and take you to your hotel. If you are on your own, you can arrange transportation at the limosine counter that is just outside the customs area. Otherwise look for a meter taxi; if the driver agrees to use the meter, the task is straightforward: pay the amount shown on the meter (although there is sometimes a surcharge if the rates have recently changed). Taxi drivers often cover the meter with a rag and ask for a higher price. In this case, the price is definitely negotiable; bargain the cost before you start. For a ride to most hotels in Kathmandu, you should pay somewhere between 150 and 200 rupees.

Check-in For The Trek

As soon as possible after you arrive in Kathmandu, you should check in with the trek leader or representative of your trekking agent to receive detailed information about the trek and to assure that all formalities, such as trekking permits and visa extensions, are completed. You must leave your passport with the trek outfitter in Kathmandu Treks while they process your trekking permit.

Reconfirmation of International Tickets

Your onward flights must be reconfirmed 72 hours before departure or the airline will cancel your reservations. You can do this yourself before the trek, though it's best to you allow your trek outfitter to reconfirm your flights while you are trekking. If you wish to avail yourself of this service, you must also leave your international air tickets in the custody of your agent during the trek. It will simplify administrative procedures if you deliver both your passport and plane tickets to the agent at the same time.

A Word of Caution: Flight Delays

Everest treks are dependent upon flights to the small (1500 foot runway length) STOL (short takeoff and landing) airstrip at Lukla, elevation 9,200 feet. There are no navigational aids at Lukla. All takeoffs and landings are contingent on a cloudless approach. Clouds can come in so fast that planes sometimes land in clear weather, load up, and have to spend the night for lack of visibility for takeoff!

Not only because of weather, but also because of other operational complications, flights are often delayed or cancelled. This can become a continuing delay going on for several days. Therefore, you must be prepared (bring a good book to read) for long waits at the airport in both Kathmandu and Lukla. It often happens that either the start or the finish of the trek (or both) is delayed by one, two, three, or more days because of cancelled flights. Although everything possible is done to avoid delays and to get you on the next flight if yours is cancelled, you must be prepared for delays. You should allow at least three or four days in Kathmandu at the end of your trek to provide a cushion for flight delays before any onward reservations or other travel plans. If the start of an Everest trek is delayed so long that it upsets your onward travel schedule, you should consider an Annapurna or Langtang trek as an alternative. If you choose not to do this, you are welcome to wait in Kathmandu for as many days as it takes to get a flight to Lukla.

The weight limit on domestic fights is 15 kg (33 pounds) including hand luggage. Because the aircraft are small, it is often impossible to carry extra baggage even if you are willing to pay for excess baggage. Please do not burden yourself with too much luggage.

In Conclusion

Trekking is an opportune time not only to learn about another country and other peoples, but also a time to perceive and stand back from our own lives and look at ourselves, our perspectives, our home country and people. In our catharsis, we are reassured that the world and life do indeed make sense and that we are able to cope with the problems of mankind. The lure of this ancient and remote Kingdom, of the views of the highest mountains in the world, of the friendly and indomitable people, and the spirit of adventure of trekking in the Himalaya combine to attract people from all over the globe. It is an experience many, in fact, end up repeating. We have come to touch the earth at the heights of its beauty and to mingle with and become people whose lives are shaped thereby.

Contents copyright © 1995, 2001 trekinfo.com. All rights reserved.
Revised: 1 August 2001