South African passport holders do require a visa for Nepal. For details please contact our office.
Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu
Electricity is 220V/50 cycles; 120V appliances from the USA will need a transformer. Sockets usually take plugs with three round pins, sometimes the small variety, sometimes the large. Some sockets take plugs with two round pins. Local electrical shops sell cheap adapters.
Blackouts (‘load shedding’) are a fact of life across Nepal, especially in Kathmandu; these peak in the monsoon period of June to August with up to six hours a day of cuts. Power surges are also likely, so bring a voltage guard with spike suppressor (automatic cut-off switch) for your laptop. Note that power supplies to some rural areas may be disrupted because of earthquake damage.
We recommend that you check the weather forecast prior to your departure so that you can pack accordingly.
Best time to visit:
Monsoon season begins around the end of June and lasts until the middle of September. About 80% of Nepal’s annual rainfall is during that period, so the remainder of the year is pretty dry. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons; winter temperatures drop to freezing, with a high level of snowfall in the mountains, while high summer can be blisteringly hot. Summer and late spring temperatures range from 28ºC (83ºF) in the hill regions to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the Terai.
In winter, average maximum and minimum temperatures in the Terai range from a brisk 7ºC (45ºF) to a mild 23ºC (74ºF). The central valleys experience a minimum temperature often falling bellow freezing point and a chilly 12ºC (54ºF) maximum. Much colder temperatures prevail at higher elevations. The Kathmandu Valley, at an altitude of 1,310m (4,297ft), has a mild climate, ranging from 19-27ºC (67-81ºF) in summer, and 2-20ºC (36-68ºF) in winter.
Lightweight and tropical clothes with umbrella are advised for June to August. Between October and March, lightweight clothes are worn in Kathmandu, with a coat for evenings and warm clothing for the mountains. When trekking in the mountains, high quality trekking gear that can handle minus temperatures is recommended all year round.
The Nepali rupee (Rs) is divided into 100 paisa (p). There are coins for denominations of one, two, five and 10 rupees, and banknotes in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. Since the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, images of Mt Everest have replaced the king on all banknotes.
Away from major centres, changing a Rs 1000 note can be 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.
Customs & Duty Free
Each person can bring two bottles of alcohol and a carton of cigarettes into India, Sri Lanka & Nepal. Good quality foreign alcohol and cigarettes are likely to be cheaper in India and Sri Lanka compared to South Africa. If you carry over 10,000 Euros in cash (or equivalent in another currency) you need to declare it on entry and/or exit. Cultural relics, handicrafts, gold and silver ornaments and any jewellery purchased in India, Sri Lanka & Nepal must be declared at exit. All luggage is x-rayed and if any of the above is not declared, customs agents will seize them. You must also declare all food items on exit if carrying them in your luggage.
Keeping in Touch
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. International calls are expensive (from Rs200 per min) and usually incur an additional service charge. There are also telephone booths in most towns and cities displaying the letters ‘ISD’, which can place calls for cheaper rates and have meters so you can keep track of the call rate’s progress.
Mobile phones are very popular in India and Sri Lanka and you will find high quality coverage. India and Sri Lanka have active roaming agreements with most international phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave South Africa.
Internet & Email
There are internet cafes in cities and small towns alike, where you can access your email or place an internet phone call. Most hotel Business Centres have internet access at slightly higher rates. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch.
Nepal are 3.45 hours ahead of South Africa.
The most convenient hospital for visitor care is Patan Hospital in Lagankhel. Other hospitals include the Western Regional Hospital and the Manipal Hospital in Pokhara and the Mission Hospital in Tansen. Pharmacies in Kathmandu offer a wide range of Western drugs at low prices. In Kathmandu, you can get certain vaccinations free at the Infectious Diseases Clinic. Full medical insurance is essential.
Food and drink:
All water should be regarded as potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and advised. Avoid dairy products likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Vaccinations against Japanese B encephalitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. Altitude sickness is a hazard for trekkers – it is important to gain altitude gradually and come down to a lower altitude immediately if experiencing headaches, nausea or dizziness. Obtain further advice from the Himalayan Rescue Association. It is advisable, particularly when in rural areas, to carry a medical kit.
Personal Medical Kit
Take all pharmaceutical products that you may require on your tour; do not rely on being able to purchase these during your holiday. Consider taking a ‘personal medical kit’ containing any medication or medical equipment you may need during your time in Nepal:
- All prescribed medication (with a cover note from your doctor)/ copy of repeat prescription
- Headache tablets
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets
- Cold and flu tablets
- Travel sickness tablets
- Insect repellent and bite/sting relief
- Antibacterial hand wipes and/or hand wash
- Spare pair of glasses/contact lenses