Considering a direction of the next holiday perhaps You think about trying to test yourself in the Himalayas. Probably, You have thought about a trip to the Himalayas for a long time, You want to see live a Hinduist and Buddhist mix, a country with the greatest number of eight-thousanders or finally try famous momos and compare their taste with those from a food truck. Maybe, You already been to Nepal and You want more …? Perhaps, You have nearly decided to go they, but You wonder if…
Why cannot a trip to Nepal be cheap?
Reason No. 1 – a price of a flight ticket
The current prices of round-trip flight tickets (regular prices) is about USD 700, certainly with one stopover because there is no direct flights. Such a flight lasts about 12 hours, You usually have a connecting flight in Doha or Dubai and in a quite good condition You can reach Kathmandu, one of the most exotic airports in the world ;) Certainly, You can be lucky when You are offered a promotion and You can buy a ticket for USD 550. The cheaper flights are, of course, possible, but it is very hard to be offered such an opportunity and You need a lot of patience, skills or luck and additionally You should be flexible.
Reason No. 2 – trade intermediary services of a travel office/a guide.
You have two options.
Option No. 1 – You organise a trip nearly by yourself or partially individually. In such a situation You reach Nepal and if You want to set off for a trekking, You look for a guide/travel office. It is impossible to manage it legally in the other way. In Nepal, especially in Kathmandu, there is a lot of travel offices (legal or illegal) that can organise an expedition. If You chose this option, please remember that a safe and legal trip is possible if You at least hire a licensed guide (if You do not want to use a travel office, that is a full option). An advantage of the option No. 1 is that You have a wide selection, in the case of the personal guide You can also negotiate rates. However, please remember that not deciding for a purchase of a service in the travel office/expedition agency, in the case of the unforeseen circumstances or a thread You are rather reliant on yourself so it is worth to consider it twice whether You cannot use a licensed travel office. If You chose an option of a travel with a guide, please check up if he/she has a valid license! Many guides will tell You about their long-term mountain experiences but it is not a confirmation of skills which has a majority of them. Certainly, it is also necessary to organise permits (different process depending on a designation of Your expedition). You can treat as fairy tales the stories on entirely individual trip to the Nepalese Himalayas unless You like risk …
Option No. 2 – You buy an expedition in Poland. This option is more safe and certainly it ensures a greater comfort. In this situation You chose a service rendered by one of travel offices or expedition agencies. There is a lot of them in Poland. Each of the firms/agencies which organises expeditions to Nepal if it is partially a mountain adventure, must use intermediary services – the Nepalese agency. There is no possibility to organise legally an expedition to the Himalayas without an intermediary of the expedition agency registered in TAAN (Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal). An exclusion is a situation when a firm which organises expeditions in Poland, is a member of TAAN, and we are one of them:). When deciding on this solution it is worth to ask what an intermediary agent will render this service, make sure if he/she is registered in TAAN. It is also worthwhile checking up before a departure ow many guides will render a service for You, what is their experience. We also recommend to verify opinions with regard to the Nepalese office, find its website (each serious office has such a website). If You deal with a legal intermediary, having licenses by guides should not be a problem since such offices should hire only licensed guides. It is rather obvious that acquiring the license costs. The greatest advantage of the option no. 2 is probably a fact that in the dangerous situation in the mountains, unforeseen situations, You can count on an assistance from the office which organises Your expedition (np.: calling a helicopter, an evacuation organisation, an additional guide if somebody feels like fainting, etc.).
In both options You should also remember about costs of porters.
Reason No. 3 – a cost of an overnight stay and board in the mountains
The owners of the guesthouses in the mountains ear for their living mainly selling food. It is very hard to find a place in which You can stay for a night without using a local cuisine (we are not writing about snacks You bring with You;)). Certainly, nobody will enforce You to buy a local meal, bur a resignation from this opportunity is not compliant with the customs applicable in the Nepalese mountains. Of course, the higher altitude, it is the more expensive. Food is not transported by car, but it is carried by porters which many times carry on their backs loads even up to 70Kg! It is worth to mention that a legal limit with regard to a weight which can be carried by a mountain porter is 30Kg, but it seems not relate with porters who carry goods who in order to ear for Dhal bhat, frequently have on their backs more than twice of this weight… . Prices. For instance, a 0.5L can of beer in the lower parts of the mountains costs about 3 USD, in the higher even 7-8 USD. A difference with regard to meal process is not so great, but You should also expect increased prices at higher altitudes. So, You should not be astonished that most of the travel offices encourages to purchase bed & breakfast packages what allows guides to negotiate prices with the guesthouse owners, as well to book better lodges for their groups (an owner who knows, in advance, that he will earn a concerned amount of money is more prone to make allowances).
Reason No. 4 – a cost of permits
There is no possibility in Nepal to go in the mountains (so, a majority of areas ;) without appropriate permits. There is a lot of them, and their price depends on the visited region, whether it is trekking or climbing, its duration and a period of the year. You should always have a TIMS (Trekkers' Information Management System) card which allows for evidencing tourists who are in the mountains. In order to visit a majority of the regions it is also necessary to have a permit for trekking which allows for entering protected areas. Its process fluctuate from a few USD per week to, for instance 500 USD per 10 days in the case of the Mustang or Dolpo region (process from 2015).
Reason No. 5 – a cost of insurances
Each self-respecting office cares for an insurance of its clients unless it inform straight that an insurance is not included so a traveller is obliged to buy it by himself/herself. With regard to a crew, i.e. guides and porters, the offices which provides legally their activity in Nepal are obliged to buy insurances for their employees. These expenses are included in the expedition price.
Reason No. 6 - taxes
It can be surprising for You but Vat had not been applied until 2014 in the tourist industry in Nepal. A situation changed last year and now entrepreneurs rendering tourist services are obliged to pay 13% VAT. So, there is nothing unusual and it seems that some Nepalese offices do not notice this fact and still do not pay VAT. However, those which provide their activity totally legally pay 13% VAT and !)% income tax.
Reason No. 7 – overnight stays in the capital
Although You should admit that despite the above mentioned costs, Nepal is still a country where prevail low prices, it does not apply to the overnight stays in Kathmandu. An overnight stay in the mid-class hotel (a substitute of our two stars) costs about USD 30- 40. However, a traveller spends in Kathmandu just a few nights, with three hotel nights, a cost of an accommodation in the three-star hotel may be even USD 200 . Certainly, You can always select a cheaper hostel, it is worthwhile remembering about a difference in the quality of the overnight stays between Europe and Asia.
There is, of course, more components of the expedition prices. We have presented which are the most important from our point of view.
To sum up, we would like to emphasise that Nepal is one of the most beautiful and still one of the poorest countries in the entire globe with a gross domestic product per capita circa (PPP) USD 2 172(for comparison in Poland it is circa USD 22 513 !). nevertheless, a travel to this wonderful country does not belong to the cheapest and may require some sacrifices we decidedly recommend it. Personally, we do not know anybody who after visiting Nepal (and we have got to know hundreds of them) does not want to come back here. Please, be careful while choosing a travel offer and remember that an extra discount must be connected with a decrease in quality.