Welcome to Nepal (Nepal 1)
During the next few weeks you can read the travel experiences of the Love.Food.Asia. crew in the beautiful country of Nepal. We will share our trekking, sightseeing and food experiences in a way that will make you fall in love with the people and the nature of this peace of heaven. As you will see on the pictures we made this trip just a few days before the big earthquake destroyed many parts of this wonderful country and especially of Kathmandu. But now: Welcome to Nepal!
After a long delay our Turkish Arlines flight landed at 9:30 pm in Kathmandu. In the small Airport that looks more like a bus station we had to pass the VISA counter first. Like many other tourist we haven´t organized the VISA in advance.
Better organize your VISA in advance (in Nepali embassy in your country) when you plan to travel to Nepal. You will save a lot of time when you arrive.
So we had to wait in one of three lines for at least an hour and a half. Here the officials gave us the first view on what work in Nepal looks like. This official guys will not die with the diagnosis “stress” one day. And like all officials “working” for the government agency in the hole world you will need some extra time. Our long journey experiences in Asia made “staying cool” very easy for us. But not for some other tourists. It was fun to see.
After the passports were stamped we walked in front of the building and (as expected) the taxi drivers where waiting for the passengers arriving. So we ignored the bunch and walked on to the right side of the building. After walking a few hundred meters only one tough guy was left and finally gave us the right price to bring us to Thamel.
Thamel is the tourist center of Kathmandu and if you plan to stay in Kathmandu for a short stopover you better stay here. You can organize all the things you need from here.If you plan to stay longer you sould stay on a more quite place on the outside of Kathmandu.
The taxi ride was fun like all taxi or Tuk Tuk rides in Asia. Much traffic and constantly using the horn included. We got dropped of in the center of Thamel and finding the hostel was more complicated than expected. After asking hundreds of locals we found (with the smallest hostel sign in Kathmandu) the Fireflies Hostel. It was small, clean and in a backstreet so we had a quiet place to stay for one night.
We dropped our luggage and forced our tired bones to go out again and organize all the stuff for trekking. So we went out to the street jungle of Kathmandu to find the Tourist Office what is necessary if you want to go trekking in Nepal. Searching again was easier the second time and we found the office within one hour. The way though the small streets of Kathmandu, the traffic, the locals and the small shops and markets. All this things are worth it to take a walk and not a taxi.
At the Tourist Office we got our two permits for Annapurna Region easily. All important things are done so we walked back to the hostel to take a rest.
To trek in Nepal you will need to obtain one or more permits, depending on the area that you plan to visit. Some permits are required in advance and some can be bought on the spot.
There are different types of permits and/or fees:
- Special Trekking Permit for restricted/controlled areas
- Trekkers’ Information Management System/TIMS Card
- Conservation Area entrance fee
- National Park entrance fee
- Trekking peak climbing and mountaineering permit
- Filming and documentary shooting permit
- Special Trekking Permit for restricted / controlled areas
Special Trekking Permits are needed for most trekking areas besides Annapurna, Everest and Langtang & Helambu. Trekking Permits are raised by the Department of Immigration and have to be obtained in advance of the trek. They can only be obtained through an authorized trekking or travel agency. Besides, in areas where trekking permits are needed, it is not allowed to go trekking without a guide. The trekking permits are issued for groups of 2 persons and more. Special trekking permit fees vary for different destinations.
An overview of areas where you need a trekking permit you can find on the website of the Ministry Home Affairs, Department of Immigration of Nepal: www.immi.gov.np/appendix
In the evening we went out to ignore all restaurants and shop owners trying to sell there stuff to us to find good street food. It´s not hard to find good, cheap and authentic local food (also in Thamel). And we had an amazing Palak Paneer and an not less tasty Butter Masala in a small place.
You´ll find out that the Nepali cuisine is very simple and many dishes from North India will be cooked.
Then we felt to bed to start to Besisahar the next morning.
Next post: Bus to Besisahar (Nepal 2)