Over the past couple of years, Nepal has established itself as a paradise for trekkers, attracting people from all over the globe to explore its wonderful terrain. This comes as no surprise considering that Nepal has numerous scenic hills and mountains, along with the magnificent Terai. True enough, the country offers some of the most spectacular trekking areas in the world.
Unfortunately, Nepal’s growing popularity as a trekking destination has its own set of cons. Most noteworthy is the difficulty in keeping track of trekking operations, posing problems for local authorities who have to perform rescue operations in case of accidents or calamities. With the safety of trekkers in mind, the Nepali government came up with a brilliant solution: the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems or TIMS.
The Trekkers’ Information Management Systems was first implemented on January 1, 2008. The maintenance and overseeing thereof is under the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
What is the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems?
Simply speaking, the TIMS is a database maintained by the TAAN and the NTB. The said database contains information on individuals who want to go trekking in Nepal. The provision on TIMS is designed so as to provide a mechanism by which illegal trekking operations in Nepal can be controlled, especially with so many people from different parts of the globe flocking to
Nepal for trekking. In addition to curbing illegal trekking operations, the TIMS is also designed so as to guarantee both the safety and security of trekkers in Nepal. By utilizing a Prompt Information Service, it becomes a lot easier to track not only trekking activities, but also the activities of individual trekkers. This comes particularly handy during rescue operations and in averting unfortunate eventualities which might come about as a result of natural disasters.
Basically, the TIMS serves as a response to events in the past wherein rescuers find difficulty in carrying out operations considering the lack of centralized information as to the trekkers in each particular trekking site as well as to their itineraries. By maintaining such database, it has thus become more convenient for authorities to find missing trekkers, as well as to regulate trekking activities in the country.
How does the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems work?
Since the effectivity of the TIMS provision, trekking agencies have started collecting information pertaining to trekkers in Nepal. This information is then entered into a central database. Once the pertinent details have been entered into the TIMS database, a TIMS card is then issued to the trekkers after payment of the requisite fees.
Having a TIMS card is a requirement before any individual can trek anywhere in Nepal. This requirement, however, is subject to certain exceptions. That said, having a TIMS card is not necessary in order to go trekking in Nepal in the following cases:
- When the trekker is a member of an expedition and has a mountaineering permit duly issued by the Nepali government and the Nepal Mountaineering Association;
- When the trekker is a visitor to the controlled areas and possesses a permit issued by the Department of Immigration;
- When the trekker is a foreign guest or visitor invited by the government of Nepal;
- When the trekker is an authority from any of the diplomatic missions in Nepal holds an official letter. It must be noted, however, that such authority is deemed to travel at their own risk;
- When the trekker is a visitor on a mission specifically recommended by the relevant governmental department or agency; and
- When the trekker is a foreign national holding a residential visa.
Why is the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems necessary?
The TIMS is necessary because it regulates the growing trekking industry in Nepal – a venture that is profitable but not without accompanying dangers. Having a centralized database containing information on trekkers and trekking routes are useful in maintaining the trekkers’ safety and security.
By compiling information on each individual trekkers’ itinerary (e.g., trekking routes, handling agencies, stay duration), all concerned agencies will be better equipped to respond to the needs of trekkers. Information inputted into the database can be made accessible not only to government agencies, but also to tourism organizations, tour operators, and even diplomatic missions.
Moreover, since the TIMS operates in such a way as to control unauthorized trekking operations, it guarantees better trekking services for trekkers. This is a definite advantage not only for the trekkers themselves, but also for trekking companies as well as government agencies. This helps in preventing mishaps and accidents in trekking areas, all the while guaranteeing the sustainability of the trekking industry in Nepal.
What are the requirements for getting a TIMS card?
As previously mentioned, the provision on the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems mandates that every trekker be issued first with a TIMS card before they can go trekking in Nepal. So what are the requirements before one could get a TIMS? They are as follows:
- Passport (prepare a photocopy); and
- Two passport-sized photos
What information must be provided when getting a TIMS card?
Aside from the requirements above, trekkers must also provide other pieces of information relevant to their trekking activities in Nepal. Make sure that you have the following information ready when you apply for a TIMS card:
- Entry and exit dates for trekking. You may provide a rough estimate;
- Entry and exit points for trekking;
- Trekking route as well as itinerary;
- Emergency contact information while in Nepal. If you have a tour agency, you may provide them as emergency contact;
- Emergency contact information in your home country; and
- Insurance policy number, including their contact information and a statement of your insurance policy coverage.
Where to get a TIMS card?
The process of getting a TIMS card varies between individual trekkers and those who are part of an organized group, for free individual trekkers, they can obtain a TIMS card in various locations. They are as follows:
- Nepal Tourism Board offices located in Kathmandu and Pokhara;
- TAAn Secretariat located in Maligaon; and
- TAAN Secretariat in Pokhara.
The NTB offices have the same office hours as other government agencies in Nepal. The TIMS counter office at Kathmandu is open seven days a week and remains open even on public holidays. TAAN Secretariats, meanwhile, are open from 10 AM to 5 PM.
For organized trekkers, the trekking companies are the ones in charge of collecting the trekkers’ information and inputting the same into the TIMS database. After paying the requisite fee, they will also be providing the trekkers with the TIMS card. Trekking companies are typically open 12 hours a day everyday, although the actual operating hours may vary from one trekking agency to another.
That said, trekkers who do not want to go through the hassle of applying for the TIMS card themselves may sign up for an organized trekking. This is an especially viable option for first-time trekkers who can greatly benefit from trekking with a group and a having a trekking agency take care of the necessary paperwork.
What are the requisite fees that must be paid when getting a TIMS card?
The requisite fees for obtaining a TIMS card also varies depending on the person applying for the said card. The fees that are required to be paid are as follows:
- For group trekkers – NRs. 1,000
- For free individual trekkers – NRs. 2,000
Note that the aforementioned fees are paid per trekking route and per point of entry.
For SAARC countries, different rates apply. The adjusted fees are as follows:
- For group trekkers – NRs. 300
- For free individual trekkers – NRs. 600
Note that the aforementioned fees are paid per trekking route and per point of entry.
Diplomats, meanwhile, are exempted from paying the aforementioned fees.
A portion of the TIMS card fees collected is allocated to the maintenance of the TIMS database, as well as in funding of rescue and emergency services to trekkers.
It must be noted that the TIMS card is non-transferable and non-endorsable. In addition, it is also valid for one entry and only in the prescribed trekking area. The validity of the TIMS card is also only for the duration indicated by the trekker during application.
Obtaining a TIMS card may not be particularly bothersome for organized trekkers, but it is a bit of a hassle for free individual trekkers. Nevertheless, the fees are minimal and the application for a TIMS card is quite straightforward, so the cons certainly outweigh the pros. By being part of the TIMS database, a trekker is afforded with more assistance and security while trekking. In case of untoward incidents, TIMS-registered trekkers are easier to find and rescue.
The provision for the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems is without a doubt a great move on the part of the government of Nepal. After all, not only does the TIMS database serve the interests of trekkers and trekking agencies, but it also helps the government in regulating trekking tourism within the country.
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Best Hotels in Nepal
As Nepal continues to rise in popularity as among the top hiking and trekking destinations in the world, more and more tourists are flocking to the country. This in-flux of tourists, especially during peak seasons, has also caused an increase in the number of accommodations being offered in the country. While Nepal is best known as a backpacker destination, this does not mean that tourists have no choice but to stay in small lodges. On the contrary, Nepal now offers a variety of accommodation options for various budgets, ranging from budget hotels to luxury ones.
Hotels in Nepal can best be classified into three – budget hotels, mid-range hotels, and luxury hotel. These hotels are scattered all over the country, albeit luxury hotels tend to be located near bigger and more densely populated cities.
Budget hotels can set you back by $10 to $25 a night. While you cannot expect much in terms of amenities, you can find fully-airconditioned, fully-furnished ones as long as you know where to look. Among the best budget hotels in Nepal are Shangri-La Boutique Hotel, Trekkers’ Home, Hotel Happy Home, Hotel Mums Home, and Aryatara Kathmandu Hotel.
Mid-range hotels, on the other hand, can set you back by $35 to $80. Complimentary breakfast is typically the norm. Check out Oasis Kathmandu Hotel and Kantipur Temple House, for example.
For those who want to make their Nepal trip as comfortable as possible, then luxury hotels are the best bet. Hotels like the Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu-Soaltee and Dwarika’s Hotel certainly will not disappoint.
A Complete Guide to Trekking and Hiking in Nepal
Nepal has long established itself as a great trekking and hiking destination, so much so that no less than the Nepali government has decided to regulate trekking and hiking activities in the country. Although a lot of tourists flock to Nepal to try hiking, trekking, and mountaineering, a considerable number of first-time Nepal visitors still find trekking and hiking intimidating.
While hiking and trekking are not exactly the easiest outdoor activities, this is not to say that they are not beginner-friendly. On the contrary, even beginners and individuals with no prior experience in hiking and trekking can embark on a hiking adventure in Nepal. The trick is to do a bit of research beforehand so you can prepare accordingly.
When planning your first hiking or trekking trip to Nepal, the top two factors you have to consider are: (1) when you will go hiking or trekking and (2) whether you will hike or trek on your own or go with a guide.
Hiking and trekking during Fall and Spring are the most ideal for beginners, especially since the weather is most agreeable, making the views more spectacular and the trails friendlier. If you are a more experienced hiker, however, you might want to go during off peak when trails are less crowded and price hikes not much of a problem.
Deciding whether or not to get a hiking guide is also an important consideration, especially since they are of substantial help to beginners in terms of preparation and navigating through trails.
Things to Do in Nepal
Despite being a top hiking and trekking destination, Nepal is more than just snow capped peaks and wonderful hiking trails. While the numerous mountains and trails in Nepal are certainly attractive to expert mountaineers and hiking beginners, even those who are not big fans of the great outdoors will still find themselves quite preoccupied during their stay in the country. After all, Nepal has a very rich culture and heritage, as well as a unique location and topography that makes the country a great tourist destination overall.
Those planning to visit Nepal has a wide range of activities to choose from. Nature lovers who might not be into hiking or trekking can still try out other outdoor activities such as booking an Everest Mountain Flight. For something a little more adventurous, paragliding in Pokhara and Bungee jumping are equally fun outdoor activities which will certainly give one an adrenaline rush. For those who want to learn more about the culture and heritage of Nepal, exploring the temples of Kathmandu is certainly a worthwhile activity. For animal lovers, meanwhile, visiting the Chitwan National Parkwould certainly prove to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
For those who want a more chill Nepal experience, motorbiking across Nepal is a fun way of getting around and seeing the country or, if peace and quiet really is the goal – mountain yoga. Finally, for a more authentic Nepali experience, consider a homestay or a farmstay, and eating your fill of scrumptious Nepali cuisine which is as delicious as they are affordable.
Where to Go in Nepal
Nepal is not a big country, but that does not mean that the country is lacking in terms of sights and destinations. On the contrary, Nepal has a lot to offer – from its picturesque mountains to its well-preserved temples.
If you want to get the most out of your Nepal visit, then it is best to pick a city or town you want to explore, spend a couple of days there, and take the time to really explore local spots and have your fill of local cuisine.
If you have yet to make up your mind as to where to go in Nepal, then you might want to start with the more popular destinations. Kathmandu, the capital, is a place you really should not miss, especially since it has a lot of temples and historical sites. It is also a great place to go shopping and go on a food trip.
Other notable destinations in Nepal include Bhaktapur (formerly a Royal City) and Panauti (one of the oldest towns in Nepal). If you want to learn more about Buddhism, meanwhile, then you should go see Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. For those who want to appreciate Nepali architecture, Patan is certainly the city to see.
For the outdoorsy type, visit Nagarkot for its wondrous views of the Himalayas or Pokhara to see lush green forests and breathtaking underground caves, as well as waterfalls. Finally, try not to miss the Sagarmatha National Park which houses no less than Mount Everest.
A Guide to Mountains in Nepal
Having established its reputation as a great hiking and trekking destination, many tourists from all over the world flock to Nepal to visit its numerous mountains. Given the country’s topography, there really is no shortage of peaks to climb and there is always a trail for every climber regardless of skills and experience. The more experienced climbers can certainly attempt to climb eight of the 14 mountains exceeding the height of 8,000 meters in Nepal while those who have little to no trekking or hiking experience may opt to try the friendlier trails instead.
Each mountain caters to a different type of hiker or trekker and demands different levels of expertise. Regardless of whether you want to actually hike or just to see the mountains in all their majesty, it is worth paying the highest mountains in Nepal a visit.
The mountain which everyone wants to see when they visit Nepal is, quite obviously, Mount Everest. At an elevation of 8.848 meters, it is the highest mountain in the world and only a few have succeeded in reaching its summit. Next on the list are Kanchenjunga (third highest mountain in the world), Lhotse (fourth highest mountain in the world), Mount Makalu (fifth highest mountain and among the most difficult to climb in the world), Mount Cho Oyu (sixth highest mountain in the world and considered as the most climbable in Nepal) and Dhaulagiri I (the seventh highest mountain in the world). On top of these six notable mountains, there are still a numerous others which are equally majestic and breathtaking.
Wildlife Photography in Nepal: A Guide
Nepal’s unique topography makes the country a paradise from nature-lovers. Its majestic peaks and lush forests serve as wonderful sites for tourists who want to wind down amidst nature. But more than making the country a great backpacking and trekking destination, the country’s lush scenery also makes it an ideal refuge for wildlife.
That said, Nepal is a great spot for wildlife photographers. Nepal’s numerous well-preserved national parks allow wildlife to thrive and afford wildlife photographers a great chance to get a closer look, as well as take snaps of, different species of animals.
Some of the most interesting and well-preserved safaris in Nepal are as follows: the Chitwan National Park where one can spot elephants, rhinos, and crocodiles; the Bardia National Park where one can get a more rugged safari experience and have a chance at spotting the elusive Royal Bengal tigers; as well as the KoshiTappu Wildlife Reserve which houses over 400 bird species. The KoshiTappu Wildlife Reserve is an especially great place for photographers who really want to take their time in photographing the birds since the reserve offers various types of accommodations within the grounds.
There really are no hard and fast rules in doing wildlife photography in Nepal, but being respectful of the animals, knowing your equipment, and investing a trail camera would be a great start. And for those who are apprehensive about venturing into wildlife photography, it pays to bear in mind that sometimes the best approach is to just take as many pictures as possible.
10 Travel Tips Before You Travel in a Campervan
Travelling in a campervan is a great option for those who want to travel in groups or with their families without having to spend a lot on accommodations and transportation. While travelling in a campervan entails a sizable upfront expense, getting a campervan is actually budget-friendly in the long-run.
Aside from saving on transportation and accommodation expenses, another definite plus when it comes to travelling in a campervan is comfort. After all, you will no longer need to bring around heavy luggage. You can also stock your campervan with food and furniture which you want to enjoy even while travelling.
Of course, travelling in a campervan can be quite daunting for beginners, which is why it is incredibly necessary to find some information first before jumping right into the decision of getting a campervan. For example, it is necessary to know what kind of campervan to spend on, as well as to determine all upfront expenses. Things that are important include if the van has a portable toilet and a RV tankless water heater with hot running water. After getting a campervan, you also have to furnish it accordingly, making sure that you have the right gear and equipment, and enough supplies for your travels.
After that, you also have to find good camping spots, plan your trips accordingly, plan your daily drive, and ensure that you always have means of communication with you at all times. Finally, and most importantly, it is necessary to be as flexible as possible. After all, travelling in a campervan is not without its inconveniences. Allowing yourself some room for drawbacks or detours can help ensure that you still enjoy your trip.
A Guide on Kayaking in Nepal
Although Nepal is best known for being a great destination for trekking, hiking, and mountaineering, this does not mean that the only outdoor activities you can do in the country are those involving the country’s numerous peaks. Interestingly, Nepal is starting to become popular as a great kayaking destination not only for long-time kayakers, but also for beginners. In fact, Nepal is considered as the ultimate kayaking playground, not only because of the country’s numerous rivers and rapids, but also because of its unique river culture.
Those who want to go kayaking in Nepal should visit the country during autumn, or from October to December. This is just after the monsoon season and the weather is more agreeable. For kayaking beginners, November is the ideal month to visit since most rivers and rapids are already quite manageable.
For experienced kayakers who want to bring their own kayak gear when they go kayaking in Nepal, renting a vehicle would be the most convenient option albeit an expensive one. Other viable options would be either taking a taxi or taking a bus but bear in mind that drive hours tend to be very long so taking a bus would be the most cost-efficient mode of transportation.
For first-timers to the Nepal kayaking scene, it is highly advisable to enlist the services of local kayaking operations and kayaking clinics. This way, you can get the necessary guidance when it comes to kayaking. Likewise, such services can provide you not only with training but with whatever else is necessary for kayaking in the country.