Shamans of the Himalayas Packing List and Answers to Common Concerns.
This post contains affiliate links to products on Amazon. Some of these same products are available in Nepal at lower prices. However, I cannot guarantee the quality of the products or that they are available to purchase in Nepal. You are encouraged to research which products are right for you before you make any purchases. For more information about Shamanism please visit the Institute of Shamanism and Curanderismo.
Let’s get started on your Shamans of the Himalayas packing list and answers to common concerns.
Let me first say that the electrical system in Nepal is not stable. In many areas of the country the power is shut off for “load setting.”
Officially load setting is the result of a lack of infrastructure and not being able to meet the electrical needs of the country’s population. However, load setting may also be due to political corruption and the distribution of power to India at a “good” rate. In any case you may experience black outs, which may interfere with your electronic equipment.
But don’t worry, there is plenty of time when the power is on to charge all electronics.
Nepal runs on 230 volts. I should say that the electrical outlets provide 230 volts. This is different and in excess to the 120 volts of the American standard. Fortunately, most of our standard electronics can convert the power to the required 120 volts.
There are some electrical devices that will not convert power to 120 volts. Toasters, blenders, hairdryers, and flat irons are the few that I am aware of.
If you plan on bringing any items that will not handle 230 volts, please get this ($36.99) voltage converter or a product similar.
For more information you can visit https://whatplug.info/from/usa/to/nepal.
In addition to the power being a different voltage the outlet shape is different. The Nepali outlet will not accept American plugs. American plugs are classified as type A or B. Plug types for Nepal are C, D, and M. They look like this:
Follow this link for an affordable ($8.49) outlet adapter. You can find a similar product like this in Nepal for about $2.5. The most common outlet adapter in Nepal is a power bar, which I prefer.
Toilets and toilet paper
The areas visited on the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour have western style amenities. You will be greeted with all the comforts of the United States including a “normally” furnished bathroom and toilet paper.
In some areas outside popular destinations, you can encounter squat toilets water buckets. The water bucket is used to “wash up” and to rinse off.
If you encounter a squat toilet the standard practice is to use your left hand to “wash up” while your right hand pours the water over your butt.
In a lot of aspects Nepal has become “modern.” In popular travel destinations in Nepal, food is served with silverware. You may eat with your hand but make sure you use your right hand to put food in your mouth.
Using your left hand to eat may increase your chances of getting sick as well as attracting unwanted attention.
Do not drink the tap water in the industrialized parts of Nepal. I know plenty of people who have spent the day hovering over a squat toilet because they drank untreated water. In rural areas the water tends to be cleaner but I still wouldn’t risk it. Bottled water is a good alternative, but it can be expensive depending on where you are at. A bottle of water will normally cost about $0.2 but I’ve been charged upwards of $5 for a bottle.
The most common form of water sterilization in Nepal is through boiling. Participants of the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will be provided countless glasses of steaming hot tea, which are safe to drink.
The second most common form of water sterilization in Nepal is through water sterilization tablets (available here for $7.45). I do not recommend them. I think there are better options available, but it is an option.
I have only used a SteriPen once. I did not get sick after I used it. Other than that, I really can’t speak for it, but a lot of close friends swear by it. SteriPens use ultraviolet light to kill any biologically active contaminants in your drinking water. Its effective without any residue or residuals.
You can find it on amazon for $68.
The only downside is that if your water source contains silt, the pen will not remove the grit from the water.
Its not common to receive water with silt in it but it can happen.
I spent two years living in Nepal drinking boiled water and water out of Sawyer water filter. I never got sick from the water! This water filter ($40.95) removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and protozoa from the water. It is the best water filter available to travelers.
The only down side to having a water filter is that it does not kill or remove any viruses.
As with any new or foreign area you must exercise caution when traveling in Nepal. Traffic patterns and pollution are the 2 biggest issues. Cultural integration is the third issue you should be aware of.
In general people drive on the opposite side of the street and sometimes the sidewalk. But to be fair, there is no real traffic pattern in Nepal. Crossing the street can be scary but if you get in a group with other people and cross when they do, you should be fine.
Just be careful and exercise caution in traffic. Fortunately the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will have a private car with a driver and a professional guide to help you navigate the streets of Nepal.
Side note, vehicles share the road with all sorts of adventurous animals. I’ve seen cows, monkeys, dogs and even a rhinoceros in Chitwan hog the road. This can lead to minor delays.
The Pollution in Nepal is not as bad as in China and India, but it is close. This is mainly an annoyance rather than a caution, but due ware a dust mask and eye glasses when walking around Kathmandu. You should also wear closed toed shoes to keep your feet from getting dirty.
This dust mask prevents particles 2.5 microns and larger from entering your airway. This article identifies the particle sizes of dust and other pollutants on the streets of Nepal.
Honking is annoying. Unfortunately, it is also a second language in Nepal. If you are sensitive to offensive noises, like honking, try getting ear plugs or ear muffs. Fortunately the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will be out of the major traffic areas for most of the time.
If you are a foreigner, people will stare at you. Most of the attention comes out of curiosity and interest. Occasionally it can be weird, but if you pretend, you’re a movie star then it makes sense.
Public displays of affection are not generally accepted in Nepal. Places like Kathmandu and Pokhara are more culturally aware and generally don’t care. Male-male and female-female hand holding are not considered affectionate, however male female hand holding is discouraged.
Nepal is a relatively modest country. Men wear collared shirts and slacks while women wear kurta surwals. Women may ware any non-revealing cloths like Balloon pants and a comfortable loose-fitting shirt. However, in Kathmandu and Pokhara foreigners can ware casual comfort cloths without getting socially scalded.
You can expect warm sunny days through march and into April. The average daytime temperature is around 79oF and the average low is around 41oF. You will want to wear warm clothing like a sweatshirt and beanie at night.
The weather forecast for Nepal in March and April can be found here.
Tipping and money
It is not necessary to tip in Nepal. Satisfaction of a job well done is good enough for most Nepali people.
Some restaurants in Kathmandu and Pokhara will charge a 13% gratuity. Be careful of these establishments. If you are concerned about being charged for gratuity, you can ask the staff if they charge a “VAT.” If yes, you can expect a more expensive bill.
I think guides and porters should be tipped but it depends on their service.
The Shamans of the Himalayas Tour is all inclusive and you shouldn’t be out of pocket for anything except souvenirs and miscellaneous expenses.
I don’t think I could spend more than $500 on souvenirs and still have room in my suite case. If you are worried about it, you can ask your bank or credit card company to issue you a travel card for Nepal. You will be charged $2 to $5 for an international fee when you withdraw out of an atm.
Most places accept American currency, but if you want to exchange it for Nepali money, you will find the best exchange rates at a bank. The exchange rate fluctuates daily but it’s about $1 to NPR-100.
Please leave a comment if I missed anything or you would like me to cover something in more detail.