Nepal Travel Info
General Information :
Entry Procedures & Visa Rules
" Nepal Government has approved free visa for summiteers of Mt. Everest and Mt. Dhaulagiri for the rest of 2010 and Nepal Tourism Year 2011. The Government has approved 50 percent concession on the Royalty of Mt. Dhaulagiri in this period."
a. Tourist Visa
Visa Facility Duration Fee
Multiple entry 15 days US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 30 days US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 90 days US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency
b. Gratis (Free) Visa
• Gratis visa for 30 days is available only for nationals of SAARC countries. However, for extension of visa for SAARC nationals, the rule is same as that of other nationals.
• Indian nationals do not require visa to enter into Nepal.
For Visa Extension:
Tourists can stay for a maximum of 150 days in a visa year (Jan 1 to Dec 31) extending the visa at the rate of 2 US $ per day. However, a minimum amount of 30 US$ has to be paid for a period of 15 days or less.
(For further information, please, contact Department of Immigration, Maitighar, Impact Building, Kathmandu, Tel: 00977-1-4221996/ 4223590/ 4222453, Web: www.immi.gov.np )
Any visitor bringing in more than 5000 US$ or equivalent amount in any other currency/currencies must declare the currency/currencies at the Customs Office in the Airport.
All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival at the entry point. Personal effects are permitted free entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty: cigarettes (200 sticks) or cigars (50 sticks), distilled liquor (one 1.15 liter bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
The export of antiques requires special certification from the Department of Archeology, National Archive Building, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu. It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old, such as sacred images, paintings, manuscripts that are valued for culture and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal's cultural heritage and belong here.
For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office (Phone: 4470110, 4472266).
Foreign Currency and Credit Cards
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign exchange. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making foreign exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese rupees. The receipts may be needed to change left-over Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before leaving the country. However, only 10 percent of the total amount may be converted by the bank. ATM is widely in use in Kathmandu.
Major banks, hotels and exchange counters at Tribhuvan International Airport provide services for exchanging foreign currency.
Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations of Rupees 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found in denominations of Rupees 5, 2 and 1. One rupee equals 100 paisa.
Time and Business Hours Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT.
Business hours within the Valley: Government offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and close at 3pm on Friday in the Kathmandu Valley. During the winter, they close at 4 pm. Most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.
Business hours outside the Valley: Government offices outside Kathmandu valley open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays they remain open until 3 pm. Banks are open from Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, banks remain open until 12 pm only. Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday through Friday. Recently many private banks have re-organized to have different branches open at various different times making banking hours longer. If one branch is closed another will be open.
Holidays: Nepal observes numerous holidays, at the least a couple in a month. So please check the holiday calendar. The longest holiday in Nepal is during the Dashain festival in late September or October. Government offices observe all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major holidays only.
Postal Services: The Central Post Office located near Dharahara Tower, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. The counters are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.
Telephone Services: Telephone and fax services are available at the Nepal Telecommunications Corporation at Tripureshwar. Hotels and private communications centers provide long distance telephone and fax facilities. For calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and the area code for Kathmandu is 1.
Internet Services: There are countless Internet cafes and communication centers have opened up in the Valley and around the country. Visitors only have to find a place they are most comfortable in to use the facilities to keep in touch with home. Internet services are also offered by hotels.
Media: Nepali media has made a gigantic leap ahead in just a few years time and what used to be a controlled and tight knit community, is no more. The government audio and television news networks are Radio Nepal and Nepal Television respectively. However, numerous FM radio stations and regional television stations are dominating the market. Major Nepali daily newspapers are Gorkhapatra and Kantipur, while the English dailies are The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. A number of other newspapers and magazines are also available.
Electricity: Major towns have electricity and the voltage available is 220-volts and 50 cycles. Load shedding is a seasonal phenomenon during the dry season and eases off once it begins to rain. However, most major hotels have uninterrupted power supply through their own generators.
How to get there?
Travelling by air
Nepal Airlines is the national flag carrier of Nepal with flights to/from Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Other international airlines operating from/ to Kathmandu are Air Arabia (Sharjah), Air China (Lhasa, Chengdu), ArkeFly(Amsterdam ), Bahrain Air (Bahrain ), Biman Bangladesh (Dhaka), China Southern Airlines (Guanzhou), China Eastern (Kunming), Dragon Air (Hong Kong), Druk Air (Delhi, Paro), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi), GMG Airlines (Dhaka), Gulf Air (Bahrain, Muscat), Indian Airlines (Delhi, Kolkotta, Varanasi), Jet Airways (Delhi, Mumbai), Jet Lite (Delhi), Korean Air (Seoul), Pakistan International Airlines (Karachi), Qatar Airways (Doha), Silk Air (Singapore) and Thai Airways (Bangkok).
Airfares fluctuate with the changes in exchange rates and are to be paid in foreign currency by foreign nationals. Only Nepalese and Indian nationals are permitted to pay in rupees for air passage between Nepal and India. Departure flight tickets should be reconfirmed three days in advance to avoid inconveniences by possible flight cancellation or changes in the flight schedule. Overweight luggage charges are levied in foreign exchange.
Travelling by road
All visitors entering Nepal by land must use no other entry points other than:
Nepal-China border = Kodari
The overland tourists entering the country with their vehicles must possess an international carnet.
Nepal experiences 4 seasons:
Spring (Mid Feb - April),
Summer (May - Aug),
Autumn (Sep - Nov) and
Winter (Dec – Mid- Feb).
The climate changes rapidly from the sub-tropical Tarai to the cool dry temperate and alpine conditions in the northern Himalayan ranges within a short span of 200 km. In the Tarai, which is the hottest part of the country, summer temperatures rise above 45°C. The climate here is hot and humid. In the middle hills, the summer climate is pleasant with temperatures around 25°C - 27°C.
The winter temperatures range from 7°C to 23°C in the Tarai and sub-zero to 12°C in the mountainous regions, hills and valleys. The northern Himalayan region has an alpine climate with temperatures reaching below -30°C. The valley of Kathmandu has a pleasant climate with an average summer and winter temperatures of 19°C - 27°C and 2°C - 12°C respectively.
LIST of TREKKING PEAKS of NEPAL
Climbing Permits for the following Trekking Peaks and newly opened trekking Peaks of Nepal are issued by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Every expedition has to be accompanied by a Climbing Guide registered with NMA. Peak Permits can be optained through Trekking Agencies registered with NMA.
Nepal’s biodiversity is a reflection of its unique geographic position and variations in altitude and climate. The protected areas add up to 28,585.67 sq km (19.42% of total land cover) of land. There are nine national parks, three wildlife reserves, three conservation areas, one hunting reserve and nine buffer zones. Share of Bio-resources is: Amphibians: 1.0%; birds: 9.3%; reptiles: 1.6%; mammals: 4.5%
Nepal has 185 different mammals found in various parts of the country. The Asiatic Elephant was once found in great numbers in the Bardia National Park in western Nepal, but are now fewer. This park falls on a traditional elephant migratory route from the western Tarai to Corbett National Park in India. The Greater one-horned Rhinoceros can be found in the parks along the Tarai. There are very few wild buffalo left near the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the eastern Tarai, but recent reports say their numbers are growing. The Royal Bengal tiger is an elusive animal found in the national parks. The Gangetic dolphins are found in the Narayani and Karnali rivers along with the Royal Bengal and one horned rhino are endangered species. Rarely seen is the leopard and bear. High in the Himalaya are found the even more elusive snow leopard. Other mammals that live in high altitudes are the Yak, blue sheep, tahr and musk deer. The jungles of the southern tarai have sloth bear, monkeys, langur, chital or spotted deer, barking deer and many other species. In the Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve in the south west corner of Nepal there are herds of swamp deer, while the endangered blackbucks are found in the Bardia region. The Nepal Government has made an effort to preserve the blackbuck by declaring an area of 15.95 sq.km. in Bardia as Blackbuck Conservation Area where they are now thriving. Nepal has an amazing variety of mammals such as hyenas, jackals, wild boar, antelope, wild cats, Red panda, otters, wolves and others. Most animals are found in the Chitwan National Park while the Red Panda is encountered in the Langtang National Park and Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. Otters are found in the Rara lake in the Rara National Park. In the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve are found the blue sheep and tahr.
Nepal has two indigenous species of crocodile: the fish eating gharial with the long narrow snout and the marsh mugger which is omnivorous, eating anything it can catch. A very successful breeding project has brought the gharial back from extinction. Some of the snakes found in Nepal are: cobras, kraits, vipers and the Indian Python. Other reptiles found in the country are turtles and monitor lizards. Some of these reptiles can be seen in the Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park.
Nepal has 874 recorded species of birds. Amazingly, half of these birds can be seen in Kathmandu valley alone. However, a keen bird watcher can travel the length and breadth of Nepal doing little else but bird watching. In Nepal, bird watching is possible from the tarai in the south, in the middle hills right up to the Himalayas in the north.
There are four major areas that are rich in bird life within the Kathmandu valley, and one can begin right from the banks of the Bagmati River that flows through this city or the Manohara River that flows down Bhaktapur. Birds sighted along these rivers are: egrets, herons, kingfishers, ibisbill, Wood sandpipers and plovers etc. The Chobar gorge is also a good area for birds as its isolation from human habitation encourages their presence. Phulchowki is a popular site, with a Red-headed Trogan, a very rare bird sighted there in April 2000. Phulchowki is 2,760 m in height and 18km south-east of Kathmandu, and can be reached via Godavari. The hillside is covered with forest featuring outstanding flora as well as a rich variety of birds. About 90 species have been recorded in this area including the endemic Spiny Babbler, which was thought to be extinct until it was spotted in Nepal. Other birds found are: Cutia, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Rufous Bellied pied woodpeckers and the Black-throated parrotbill, to name a few. Migratory water fowl also arrive in the winter, staying in the Tauda lake until spring.
Other birding sites in the valley are the Shivapuri National Park, 12km north of the city, and Nagarjun in the north-west. Shivapuri can be reached two ways, either from Sundarijal or Budhanilkantha. Koshi Barrage together with Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the eastern Tarai is one of the best habitats for water fowl and waders and harbors an amazing variety of birds. The Koshi has about 26 varieties of ducks alone. Birds can be viewed during walks or by boat, gliding through the waters in the stillness of the early morning and evenings. 485 species have been sighted here, including Black ibis, Honey kites, ospreys, Black headed orioles, Peregrine falcon, partridges, ruddy shelduck, storks, vultures, eagles, etc.
Chitwan is in the lowlands of Nepal, known as the Tarai. Chitwan National Park is one of the best known sites in Nepal for bird-watching. In Pokhara, the forests around the banks of Phewa Lake and Begnas Lake are ideal for bird watching, particularly in the less inhabited areas. In winter, around Phewa Lake you find egrets, herons, pipits, buntings plus gulls, terns, ducks and falcons. Begnas Lake has slopes and wet fields surrounding it, where ducks, pheasant-tailed Jacana, Happie Grey Bellied tesias, and bulbuls are seen.
Bardia National Park is covered with Sal forest and riverine forest and grassland much like Chitwan, but this park has the mighty Karnali river flowing through the park. Boating on the Karnali is a great way to watch herons, cormorants, orials, and many more. The higher regions of Nepal along trek routes are good for birdwatching too. A rare bird known as Jerdon's Baza was sighted in Nepal.
Over the past few years a conservation group has worked specifically in the Lumbini area to conserve the Sarus Crane. Wetlands have been constructed in the Lumbini area to provide refuge for Sarus Cranes and other wetland birds. In Chitwan, endangered vultures are being protected from contaminated food by establishing what is known as the Vulture Restaurant which feeds them safe carcasses. Nepal’s national bird is the Impeyan Pheasant known as Daphe in Nepali.
Butterflies have been studied in Nepal for over 150 years, with much of the original study and collection done by the British, including one or two British Residents (i.e. British Consuls of the day). After 1950 the Japanese became involved in collection through scientific expeditions, and this resulted later in the establishment by Tribhuvan University of the Natural History Museum at Swayambhu in 1974. Butterfly
The record books state that Nepal has 11 out of the 15 families of butterflies in the world, or over 500 species, and still today in the 21st century new species keep turning up. It is said that you never really know with Nepal's butterflies; they just may turn up unexpectedly . From 1974 to 1981, only a period of seven years, a further 24 specimens or sub-families were added to the records, and in 1981 two alone, the BLUE DUCHESS and the SIKKIM HAIRSTREAK were discovered, with this last one known only from a single specimen from Sikkim, with this one female found in 1981 in Godavari, Kathmandu Valley ; and later in 1986 an entirely new race of the CHINESE HAIRSTREAK turned up. The original collectors were not allowed outside the Kathmandu Valley, so much of their research documented only the valley. Only after 1950 when Nepal opened up to expeditions and limited tourism, did the butterfly collectors venture outside the valley.
Nepal is divided into 5 regions based on altitude, and the seasons are specified as Spring, Pre-monsoon, Summer-monsoon, Post-monsoon, Autumn and Winter. In winter below 3,000 metres.
Within the Kathmandu Valley, the climate which is quite mild with day temperatures reaching 18ºC in mid-winter, there are butterflies all the year round. The best seasons for butterfly watching are late March/April, mid May/ mid June, late August/September. There are forested areas in the valley which are still remarkable places for butterflies, and they include open country near Chobar and there is very little activity except for the very common Oriental Species, with the distribution of butterflies in Nepal being quite specific with about 10% of the butterflies being Palaearctic species above 3,000 metres, and about 90% Oriental species Swyambhu; the base of the hills and forest streams at Godavari, Nagarjun, Budhanilkantha and Sundarijal; the forested hilltops of Phulchowki, Jamachowk and Shivapuri, and the open scrubby bush areas of Nagarkot , Suryavinyak and Chandragiri.
There are about 20 Kathmandu Valley species on the endangered or vulnerable list. Outside the valley in the areas of the National Parks scattered throughout the country, the butterflies too are in profusion, and in undisturbed areas away from settlements are the ideal places to sit and watch.
Records from 2006 show that Nepal has 6,391 flowering plant species representing 1,590 genera and 231 families whereas in 1997, they recorded 4,259 species representing 1,447 genera and 194 families. Nepal’s share of flowering plant species is 2.76% of the global total compared to earlier records of 2.36%. Nepal’s share of pteriodophytes is 5.15% compared to earlier records of 4.45%.
There are 2,532 species of vascular plants represented by 1,034 genera and 199 families in the protected sites. Some 130 endemic species are found in the protected sites.
For ecology and vegetation purposes Nepal could be divided into four floristic regions i.e. (a) western (b) north-western (c) central, and (d) eastern, and bio-climatically these are broken down into twenty regions from humid tropical climate to the arid, alpine regions. But for the purpose of identifying Nepal’s flora for the special interest tourist, the following shows the zones from the point of view of altitude i.e. Tropical zone (below 1,000 m), Sub-tropical Zone (1,000 to 2,100 m), Temperate Zone (2,100 to 3,100 m), Sub-alpine Zone (3,100 to 4,100 m), the Alpine Zone (4,100 to 4,500 m), and the Alpine Steppe region.
There are 399 endemic flowering plants in Nepal of which about 63% are from the High Mountains, 38% from the Mid Hills, and only 5% from the Tarai and Siwaliks. Similarly, the central region contains 66% of the total endemic species followed by western (32%) and eastern regions (29%).
To the geological world, Shaligram is one of the coiled chambered fossil shells of the extinct Cepalopod Mollusks that came into existence as part of the initial emergence of the Himalayan heights from the depths of the Tethys-sea millions of years ago. The Nepali, however, sees the Shaligram from a religious aspect because of its embodiment of Vishnu, one of the major manifestations in the Hindu Trinity. Puranas like Scanda, Padam and Baraha written around 2000 years ago, give an exhaustive account of Shaligram, which are divided into a wide variety of color, shape and size. They can be found in the north of the Nilgiri range right up to Damodar Kunda, and also in the waters of the Kaligandaki river right up to Tribeni in Dolalghat. However, the most popular belt is on the banks of the Kaligandaki river at Jomsom where pilgrims who pass through on their way to Muktinath search for a wide variety of Shaligrams.
Medicinal plants, Ayurveda and the Himalayas are intertwined in a very special manner and Nepal, with a large section lying in the Himalayan region, has special significance. Medicinal plants are used in traditional rural remedies, Ayurvedic medicines, Homoeopathic medicines, and many of them find a place in allopathic medicine as well.
There are thousands of species easily available and most of them are only available in the Himalayan Zone. The demand for these herbs is high and they can be cultivated on a large scale, but care must be taken to preserve these species of medicinal plants.
Some of the important and well-known medicinal plants are: Alpine & sub-alpine medicinal plants: Aconitum Spp., Picrorrhiza scrophularaeflora, Swertia multicaulis, Rheum emodi, Nardostachys jatamansi, Ephedra gerardiana, Cordyceps sinensis, Dactylorhiza hatagirea.
Tropical and sub-tropical medicinal plants: Terminalias, Cassia fistula, Cassia catechu, Aegles marmelos, Rauwolfia serpentina, Phyllanthus emblica, Ricinus recemosus, Acorus clams, Acacia concinnity, Butte monster.
Temperate zone medicinal plants: Valeriana wallichii, Berberis, Datura, Solanum, Rubia, Zanthoxylum armatum, Gaultheria fragrautissima, Dioscorea deltoidea, Curulligo orchoidies.
Some of the regions where medicinal plants are abundantly found are: the Tarai region of Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Bardia, Dhanusha, Mid-hilly Region of Makhwanpur, Syanja, Kaski, Lamgjung, Dolakha, Parvat, Ilam, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, and the Himalayan region of Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Jumla, Manang, Mustang and Solukhumbu.
In ancient Rome, Theophrastus, a student of Plato, was intrigued by the sight of a plant with a pair of roots. Orchis was the name he gave them, the Greek word for testicles. Worldwide, there are some 500 to 600 genera and some 20,000 to 35,000 names, the largest of all plant families, and out of this, Nepal has 57 genera (27 Terrestrials and 30 Epiphytic) with a few Lithophytes. Spread over a large area in different ecological zones, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the plains in the Tarai, orchids are quite widespread in Nepal giving nature lovers and horticultural experts a treat.
Some beautiful terrestrial orchids that flower during July-August have a stem with only two leaves and purple flowers while another orchid from the same genera in west Nepal blooms orange-green flowers during February-March.
Greenish fragrant orchid flowers bloom in March-April around the Godavari area and in Shivapuri and Kakani, orchids with white or pale yellow flowers are seen. During September-October, Sundarijal comes alive with green orchids streaked with purple, and on the way to Daman, pale mauve orchids line the banks of the road in November. All of the areas mentioned above are accessible in a couple of hours or less from Kathmandu. Further away in Dhankuta and Hetauda, there are bright yellow orchid flowers while in Khandbari, purple-brown orchids with pale borders are found.
Nepal is endowed with an incredible variety of orchids scattered across the country. Dedrobium is the largest species, followed by Habenaria and Bulbophyllum. Anthogonium, Hemipilia and Lusia are some of the other varieties amongst the nearly two dozen single species families.
During spring, between March and May, the hills burst into brightly colored flowers. These Rhododendron flowers can be seen in all the hilly regions of Nepal above 1,200m. More specifically, the middle mountains vertical belt between 2000 and 4000m serves as the 'wild' preserve of the Rhododendron, or Gurans as it is known in Nepali.
There are four major areas that are specified for Rhododendron treks -
1. Milke Danda-Jaljale Himal, a transverse mountain range which separates the two river systems of the Tamur and the Arun
2. Upper Tamur River Valley
3. Makalu Barun National Park
4. The Langtang Valley inside Langtang National Park
Nepal has 30 indigenous species of Rhododendron, and one which is endemic to Nepal and not found elsewhere, is R. lowndesit. It has lemon or creamy yellow flowers, which are short, well-shaped and are solitary or in pairs on the stem. It grows in the drier areas of western Nepal near Muktinath and Phoksundo.
A Rhododendron Trek to the Upper Tamur River begins with a flight to Bhadrapur followed by a drive to Ilam, which is a well-known tea growing region of Nepal. Trekkers can make an interesting side trip to a tea plantation and observe the fascinating process of manufacturing tea. The trek starts on the south-west side of the Kanchenjunga area and the upper valleys of the Tamur River system. Trekkers enjoy grand views of forests resplendent in rhododendron bloom which the region is famous for.
And closer to Kathmandu, Dhunche at 2000 metres is a 5 to 6 hours drive away. Treks to the upper areas of the Langtang Valley begin here. This region boasts of nine species of rhododendron.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the total population of Nepal was 26,427,99 in 2007. The population comprises people of more than 100 multiple ethnic groups who speak about 93 different languages and dialects which are further divided into different castes. The distinction in caste still plays a significant part in a Nepali’ life when it comes to marriage.
Some of the main ethnic groups are: Gurungs and Magars who live mainly in the western region; Rais, Limbus and Sunwars who live in the eastern middle hills; Sherpas, Manangbas and Lopas who live near the mountains of Everest, Annapurna and Mustang respectively; Newars who live in and around the Kathmandu valley; Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals who live in the Tarai region; and Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris generally spread over all parts of the country.
Nepali is the official language of the state, spoken and understood by almost all the people of Nepal. English is spoken by many in government and business offices. It is the mode of education in most private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities.
ETH. GROUP POPULATION