Is it safe to travel in Nepal?
In general yes, it is safe to travel to Nepal. However it is helpful to keep some points in mind. Since the Earthquake of April 25th 2015 some buildings have been damaged and are structurally compromised. In some of the trekking areas, although the “path” is open the lodges along the way have been damaged and may not be wholly safe. However, if you use practical discernment, come prepared (for example to camp in some trekking regions) and keep in mind that you are visiting a country that has recently undergone a major natural disaster, then you will likely not only keep safe but also helpfully contribute to the local economy which is much needed for a full recovery to happen in the country. It is important to keep in mind that further Earthquakes are highly probable in Nepal. If you have health considerations or experience anxiety easily I would not recommend visiting to Nepal at this time – look at supporting us in other ways than actually visiting!
How can I help Hands with Hands?
There is a variety of how you can “help” Hands with Hands!
• Donate - every amount is helpful!
• Fundraise – create your own initiative & add to our calendar of events
• Adopting a project – we continue to add to our project list that you can directly fund
• Inspirational Charity Treks – create your own adventure in Nepal
• Sponsoring a child – build a lasting relationship supporting one of our children
• Volunteer your time – we have some need for people who can do Graphic design; translation (German & Dutch); webmastery (Joomla)
We have been touched by the innovation and creativity of many people, by all the truly inspirational and supportive ways of continuing to help build bridges of support – doing something we love can end up being of support for our friends in Nepal!
Can I send something to Nepal to Help?
Please do not send any goods/clothes/food/tents to Nepal. Especially since the Earthquake the not so great postal system is ever further compromised. If you send something it will not arrive to us in tack and will require one of our staff to pay money for what is likely to be an empty box.
I am planning to travel to Nepal is there something helpful that we can bring along with us?
One thing that is helpful to bring is quality reference books, for example (recent) encyclopedias, general information books that can be used in school libraries especially for the higher age groups - most books in the schools were totally destroyed. It is generally not helpful to bring clothing items as clothing can be obtained cheaply here, but leaving your own unwanted fleeces after your trekking can be help. Medical supplies/first aid items can also be helpful, providing they are not out of date items. Second hand laptops in good quality condition would be fantastic, as are good quality second-hand smart phones – developing communication hubs and helping the schools restart their computer classes is important. But please make sure they're in good condition, ones with broken pieces, no longer working batteries are really not very helpful and a burden. Oh and photos/mementos of your own country/family to leave as gifts means that you will be leaving a part of yourself in Nepal to be remembered too!
Does the whole of my donation go to the Nepali people?
Hands with Hands incur costs for bank fees, auditing accounting fees and PayPal fees. These are the only “costs” that are taken from donated money. Overall our costs each year amount to approximately 1% of all donated funds.
Kira and others who regularly visit to Nepal to oversee the projects pay their own travel and other expenses as well volunteering their time for bookkeeping, administration, translation, graphic design and internet/webpage maintenance.
How is my donation used?
Your donation is used according to the designated needs at the time of your donation. Recently post earthquake all donations received were being used for immediate emergency relief. Mostly now donations are being used to develop eco rebuilding projects and educate villages how to rebuild safely. If you specifically asked that your donation be used for a special project, then indeed it will be used for this purpose. (See our “adopt a project” page for specific projects.)
How do I adopt a project?
Visit our “Adopt a project” page and browse through our current projects requiring funding and then be in touch by email here to liaise with Kira or Mel regarding further details regarding both the project itself and the funds required.
Can I choose where my donation is spent?
Yes, you can choose to adopt a project or you can choose a specific Children Home to donate towards, or one of our other general project areas (Microcredit; Education; Skills training; Rural Health; Environment; Water/sanitation or Elderly care)
Does Hands with Hands have an annual report?
We are audited yearly in the 3 countries our Hands with Hands charity are registered: Germany, Holland and Austria. We are currently exploring practical ways to have this on our website, in the meantime reports are available on request by email.
Is my donation Tax deductible?
Yes, for donations made to our Germany Hands with Hands bank account, these donations are tax deductible within the European Union. Unfortunately we cannot offer tax deductibility for countries outside the EU.
How is Hands with Hands financially supported?
Hands with Hands depend entirely on donations from private individuals or companies. Hands with Hands is not financially, or otherwise, supported by any institution or government body. We encourage word of mouth endorsement of our efforts to spread to others that our grass roots approach is worthy to donate to! Kira and others who regularly visit to Nepal to oversee the projects pay their own travel and other expenses as well volunteering their time for bookkeeping, administration, translation, graphic design and internet/webpage maintenance.
Is it safe and secure for me to donate online to Hands with Hands?
Donating online is safe. Donating funds by direct bank transfer from your bank to our Hands with Hands Bank account online is made possible by your own bank’s internet security – within the EU there is no charge for online banking transfers. Donating online using PayPal is protected by the security offered by PayPal under their user agreement.
Will Hands with Hands rent, sell, or trade my personal information?
No, Hands with Hands does not give out, sell, rent or otherwise disclose any personal information received except for the purposes of our yearly financial audit with the appropriate tax authorities. If you have registered for our HwH Newsletters your information is kept on file and can be updated or unsubscribed at anytime by you.
Can I donate for a loved one's birthday or Donations as gifts?
Yes you can donate as a “gift” for a loved one’s birthday or special occasion. Please be in touch with us directly as we can provide you with a template that you can print and personalise for your “gift”.
Sponsoring a Child
How can I sponsor a child?
Please visit our “sponsoring a child” page to gain understanding of what is required to sponsor a child. After reading this page you can contact directly by email contact to gain information about which children require sponsorship at this time.
How much per year does it cost to sponsor a child?
The cost of sponsoring a child for one year is €650 per year. This covers their school fees, books, school uniforms and bag as well school designated outing and exam fees.
Can I have any communication with the child I sponsor?
It is possible for you to send letters to your child – as the postal system is very unreliable in Nepal we recommend that you send these letters to Kira, who hand delivers them during her bi-yearly visits. Due to our experiences of the past years it is not automatic that the children will send you a letter. This is a sensitive topic as not all sponsors send children letters or visit so it can be confusing for the children and Kira and the Children Home managers deal with this matter child by child.
Can I visit the child I sponsor?
Yes, you can come to Nepal and visit the Children Home and the child that you sponsor, providing that you keep in mind you will be visiting all the children as well of course your own sponsor child. Any visit is conducted in consultation with Kira and the Children Home manager. Best is if you plan to come during school holiday times to enjoy an outing adventure with all the children!
Can I organise my own event?
Yes, we encourage individuals and businesses to organise their own events to fund raise for our projects in Nepal. We can provide you with some basic materials such as photos, poster pages of projects and general information on current project activities that you can download and print for yourself. For idea of types of events you can browse our calendar of events to see what other people are doing (http://www.handswithhands.com/calendar.html) or be creative with your own community/friends! We have had people host: Dance events; Art auctions; Music/Poetry concerts; Market stalls; Tea Parties and more!
How can I organise a charity trek?
To organise your own Charity Trek we can suggest you be in touch directly with our Nepalese Tour & Trekking partner, Birendra Adhikari, who will help you arrange all your travel and trekking needs in Nepal specific to your group’s requests and needs. Birendra will liaise directly with our Hands with Hands projects for you to visit directly with your Trekking group as a part of your visit in Nepal. The price/charity donation you can determine yourself after discussion with the actual costs of the Trek considered in line with your own budget.
I would like to offer my skills to volunteer in Nepal
It is a very complex situation regarding volunteering in Nepal at the moment. Since the earthquake we have suspended all of our (HandswithHands) volunteer postings, as it is simply too much stress on our local Nepali counterparts.
However if your wish to come and volunteer in some way with the rebuilding in Nepal is sincere then we can recommend two organisations:
1. Abari is an eco-building organisation that we are partnering with for rebuilding, they are offering a dedicated volunteer program: http://www.abari.org/rebuilding-nepal/
2. The other is an organisation that is specialised in managing volunteers after disasters and now has a current project in Nepal: http://hands.org/projects/nepal-earthquake-response/
What skills and experience do I need to volunteer?
Please refer to (above) Hands with Hands is not currently offering a volunteer program directly. Contacting the organisations we have recommended directly will ensure that they will advise you on what is required for their programs. In general you will need to be 18 yrs. of age and above, in good health, financially responsible and familiar with living in simple conditions.
Travelling to Nepal
Do I need a visa to visit Nepal?
Yes, Visas are required for foreigners (except Indian citizens) For the latest details on costs and application procedures visiting the Nepal Immigration website: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/content/visa-info.html will give you the most updated information necessary. Generally you will need passport photo(s) for your application and also for any trekking permits, so it is helpful to come prepared with some in your pocket!
What is the political situation in Nepal? Do I need to be worried about the unrest I read in the news?
In the past few years Nepal has been undergoing a major transition from a Kingdom ruled by a Monarchy to a democratic republic. This process is still underway and there is significant progress towards this end including a recently ratified democratic constitution. In the recent weeks (October/November 2015) there has been unrest at the border of Nepal/India – this is a complex political issue but is not affecting the direct transit of tourists. It is however affecting the supply of common goods, especially fuel, medicines and essential food items. This is impacting the general ease of travel and daily life activities such as cooking of food.
Do I need travel insurance to visit Nepal?
As with any overseas travel, insurance which covers your flights, personal belongings and health is highly recommended. If you are planning adventure activities such as trekking or rafting or any volunteering then we ask that you check that your insurance provider does indeed cover these “extras”.
What kind of health precautions do I need to take? What immunisations are needed?
It depends on what you may have already had. Please check with your doctor or local health professional for guidance on immunisations. In terms of medical care whilst in Nepal the larger towns have pharmacies, although the dispensing agent usually has only basic medical training so it is best if you know what you need. As gastric problems are common we suggest you consult with you local doctor before coming to bring appropriate remedies. It is also helpful if you travel with your own primary first aid kit.
What is the weather like in Nepal? What clothing should I bring along to wear?
It depends on where you are in Nepal. Generally speaking you should bring winter clothing/more layers in the months between November and February, and light summer clothing the rest of the year. May and June are the hottest time of the year. If you are planning to visit Nepal between June and September you should bring a waterproof jacket, as this is the rainy season. The temperature in the daytime can rise to between 30-40C in the summer and in the winter it can still reach 20C - but can be near freezing at night. Although you shouldn’t be too concerned if you don’t get it quite right because you can buy almost anything relatively cheaply in Kathmandu.
It is also important to respect local tradition & sensitivities - it is therefore not appropriate for women to wear short skirts or shorts, skimpy tops or clothing that is considered too revealing. For women it is best to have your shoulders covered and skirts/trouser till below the knee. For men t-shirts/shirts at all times, as being bare-chested is not deemed appropriate, nor are skimpy shorts. Shorts just above knee are fine, although in general for your own comfort and safety longer pants (e.g. lightweight trekking trousers) are most suitable. In rural areas good footwear is essential for safety given the often-rugged terrain.
Do you have any local based travel/trekking services that you can recommend in Nepal? Or additional trekking tips?
Yes, we can highly recommend the services of Birendra Adhikari and his team at “Visit Nepal-Tibet expeditions & tours” http://www.visitnepaltibet.com/ for all your local travel needs, as well for trekking and other adventure based activities. Birendra also organises all our Hands with Hands Charity Treks. Birendra can arrange a German speaking (or other languages) guide if you require. If you have any interest in Tibet and Bhutan he is very experienced organising these tours, which require detailed support and can compliment your Nepal travels.
The mountains here in Nepal are an amazing experience – what the rest of the world calls mountains, Nepal calls “foothills”, the mountains here are truly something else. And to be respected, it does need good health and level of fitness to ascend the higher altitudes with safety. However ... if you do then you may indeed taste what many say is a closer experience to god ...
Do you have any recommendations on where to stay in Nepal?
The places to stay in Nepal are varied in many ways! Google accommodation Nepal for yourself! However, HwH founder Kira Kay, makes the following personal comments:
Kathmandu Hotel recommendations:
For those who prefer a quiet, peaceful location adjacent a monastery I suggest here three options:
For those of you who prefer some luxury, but wish to be connected to the Nepal culture, this hotel is a living architectural & cultural Heritage site:
For those of you who might like something in-between (where I stay when in Kathmandu): http://www.hotelvajra.com/
Aside from that there are many options for accommodation in Kathmandu to meet a wide range of budgets and taste. Plus there are various apartments for rent to foreigners at various levels if wish to be more independent. I would suggest simply land for the first few days and get a feeling first as there is so much that may unfold.
Tips: Some of these hotels offer a complementary pick-up service from the airport, I would suggest that you book to ask for this option as it can make your entry to Nepal more relaxed. If you choose a hotel that has no airport pick-up, then I would recommend you organize a ‘pre-paid’ taxi at the exit of the airport, otherwise as you enter into the airport car park to find your own taxi it can be overwhelming!
Additional tip – please check your accommodation on arrival for cracks, if the building room has significant cracks please choose another location, many buildings have been structurally weakened in the recent earthquakes and the often time the owners do not fully realise this fact.
Do you have any additional suggestion that may help us prepare for our travels to Nepal?
The Lonely Planet guide is often way out of date, so be careful if you use this as a reference, even the most updated version. The simplest facts can be found here:
Some overall basic facts about Nepal can be read:
Please note that in general a lot of information about Nepal that was available/published before April 25th 2015 will now be out-dated. Especially with respect to costs – some things may be cheaper but in general there is high inflation added to by the recent events and that will reflect in higher costs.
Some additional travel tips –
Water in Kathmandu is seriously not good! Take care to either use filtered water or purifying water tablets in the water, or boiling the water for 3 minutes. A very good way to have an independent supply of clear drinking water, at the same time protecting the environment, is a reliable water filter, like this one
Clothing – It helps to be clothing appropriate to gain the respect of the local people and not offend their views of what is appropriate, especially when we are in village environments. I give you here some guidelines: for women please wear clothing that covers your legs below the knees and ensure tops cover your shoulders and not show too much cleavage. For men please wear long trousers not shorts and wear t-shirt/shirt at all times, going without a shirt is not considered ok.
And for the best pizza ever, find your way to 'Fire&Ice' http://fireandicepizzeria.com/kathmandu.html they are awesome for when you want a break from Dahl Bhat! Oh and the best Dahl Bhat ... well that comes from making good Nepali friends and being invited to their home for dinner!
Generally for an awesome - and potentially life changing experience in Nepal - I suggest you ask loads of questions as you travel along and in the old fashioned human way - observe, listen, feel :-)