Frequently Asked Questions

When are applications due?

Applications are processed on an on-going and individual basis. Some applicants plan months or years in advance for their travels, while others are eager to arrive as soon as possible. In any case, we are ready to supply you with all of the information you need to know about this important decision and will respond promptly to any questions you have.

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Are there set start dates for volunteering?

We do not have any specific start dates; volunteers are welcome to join us 365 days of the year. Some of our placements do have season specific restrictions (for example, some of those in the high mountains are closed during mid-winter), and annual holiday celebrations may also affect work schedules at placements especially in the fall, but we will let you know before you come which are available, and find a placement ideally suited to your talents and preferences.

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Is it possible to volunteer as a group?

We’ve taken great pleasure in arranging communal volunteering experiences on numerous occasions. Families have enjoyed experiencing a new geography and culture together, with parents side by side with their children offering assistance in meaningful placements. Groups of high school and university students have also benefited from small group or individual placements during the day with opportunities to debrief with group leaders and each other in the evenings. We are happy to accommodate groups in our Volunteer House as room allows, or in other facilities within walking distance. Orientation, cultural sight-seeing excursions, meals, and placements can all be arranged around the group’s objectives and time-frame.

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When will I choose my placement?

In order to make the best use of your time in Nepal, it is to your benefit to make a final decision on a placement before your arrival. Depending on the preferences you indicate on your application form, you will be provided with additional information about specific placements to match your interests and skills.  Through on-going correspondence with our Communications Director, you’ll narrow down the choices (especially your preference for “In the Valley” or “Out of the Valley”) and arrive in Nepal with a plan.  That said, initial plans may change after you’ve had your initial introduction to Nepal. Sometimes you will meet another volunteer who you would like to be placed with, and that may be possible to arrange. Other times special holidays cause a disruption in plans when schools or other placement facilities are unexpectedly closed. Your flexibility will be appreciated! For those volunteers coming for a longer period of time (a month or more) you may wish to experience more than one placement. We are committed to helping you select opportunities just right for your interests, level of adventure, and commitment to making a difference.

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How is the weather?

This is dependent upon when and where you are in Nepal. There is a monsoon season that runs roughly from June through September throughout the country. A few rare rains may fall in early October, but by and large that is the start of the dry season. October is one of the best months of the year, with deep blue skies and cooler days and nights.

In Kathmandu the mercury in the summer can soar to 30°C or 86°F, in the valley to 40°C or 104°F in lower elevations. In the winter, daytime temperatures can still reach 20°C or 68°F, but temperatures fall to freezing after nightfall.

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Why do I have to pay to volunteer?

Your program fee covers your travel to and from the airport, meals, accommodations, orientation and initial sightseeing upon arrival, transportation (and staff accompaniment) to and from your placement, remuneration for your host family and placement site, and staff support.

Identifying reliable and effective NGO’s for volunteer placements in Nepal takes time, resources and an experienced and committed staff. Most NGO’s cannot afford to recruit, support, and manage volunteers, so they rely on volunteer organizations like Volunteer Nepal to do this. We explore new partnerships through careful research and personal contact and, once a placement is established, we continually monitor to ensure there will be benefits for the NGO as well as a meaningful experience for our volunteers.

The remaining portion of your program fee, on average about 40%, goes directly to supporting Nepal Orphans Home, our parent charity, and its outreach programs.  Read more about the program fees here.

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What is Volunteer Nepal’s position on “voluntourism?”

We recognize that unfortunately some volunteer organizations around the world take advantage of travelers who sincerely want to have a positive impact on the places they visit. Similarly unfortunate are those travelers who feel that pushing their own values and beliefs on the local population will produce welcome social change. We operate with a profound respect for Nepali culture in all its varieties and a sincere desire to improve the lives of its individual members. We spend considerable time and energy developing relationships with the communities we serve, ensuring that the volunteers who work there will participate in a meaningful way and that its residents will experience the benefit. Through long-term commitments to communities and organizations we hope to assist in positive social change.

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Are there opportunities for trekking or exploring the country?

Nepal is known for its incredibly beautiful natural scenery, and many of our volunteers choose to go on a trek of some kind during their time here. We can connect you with a great trekking company to help you find these opportunities. Trekking, rafting, climbing, and other adventures are a great way to see and explore Nepal.

We can also safely store any bags and luggage for you at our volunteer house during the time you are away on your trek.

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What if I have special dietary needs?

In the past, we've had vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and volunteers with allergies. So, if you have special dietary requirements, let us know in advance and we will provide you with meals that suit your needs.

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What immunizations are needed for Nepal?

Please check with your local travel health departments for the most current information available. The World Health Organization also posts helpful information on their website.  The general list is as follows, though some of these are area-specific because of Nepal's numerous climate zones:

Hepatitis A and B
Yellow fever
Japanese Encephalitis(JE)

Some of these are placement-specific and seasonal, so again refer to your health professional for guidance. Kathmandu is not an at-risk zone for Malaria or JE, although some of the areas to the south of the city are. Doctors often recommend being vaccinated for chicken pox as well if you plan on working with children.

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What medicines are available in Nepal?

Most larger towns have a pharmacist — essentially a minimally trained professional who dispenses both diagnosis and treatment plans—so “buyer beware.” If you know how to self-medicate for simple ailments, you will find most of the proper medicines available. There is also a western-style hospital located in Kathmandu not far from our Volunteer House, in case of emergency or serious illness.

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Do I need a visa to travel to Nepal?

Yes, visas are required for entering the country. Available at the airport in Kathmandu upon arrival, visas are currently limited to five months in any given year; however, if you want to volunteer for more than five months, you can adjust your start time to begin in August, and then obtain a new visa and stay five months of the following year. It is the volunteer’s responsibility to obtain and pay for his or her own visa. Up to date information about obtaining the visa will be provided by our Communications Director when you are making your travel arrangements.

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Can I get university funding or school credit for volunteering?

Depending on your school, class credit or funding may be available to you for your time with Volunteer Nepal. This will need to be set up in advance so that expectations and requirements are clear and that proper documentation can be shared, but we are happy to help. Consult with your university’s study abroad or international service office, and have them contact us directly if specific information about our program is needed. We have hosted several high school and university level groups where arrangements have been made for both group and individual volunteer placements. Prior to the visit, detailed communication between Volunteer Nepal and the school’s group leader has helped ensure a valuable experience for the participants as well as those served.

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Is there anything I can bring for the Papa’s House children or for my placement?

Generally our advice is not to weigh yourself down while traveling. If you notice anything needed by the children or the community you’re working with, it can usually be purchased locally for a much cheaper price — which also has the advantage of supporting local Nepali shops. The Volunteer Nepal staff can assist you in finding and purchasing small gifts for your host family.

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Can I extend my stay after I arrive?

Yes, you are free to extend your length of stay with us at any point. Just let our staff know that you would like to stay longer, and pay the difference in program fees. You’ll also be responsible for extending your visa if necessary.

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How safe is Nepal?

As it is with developing countries going through the birthing pains of democracy, there is a prevailing uncertainty in the politics of Nepal, best illustrated by occasional street protests. However, the Hindu culture lives by the deeply ingrained philosophy that “guest is God,” and our volunteers are treated with very humbling respect and kindness. The gentle smiles of the Nepalese people touch one’s soul deeply with the most pleasant sensation. The Volunteer Nepal staff and volunteers have become like family, being welcomed home at all our placements.

This said, things can and do change quickly in Nepal. Once you have applied, we promise to keep you abreast of the safety issues as your time approaches. Your experience while in Nepal is paramount to our success, and we are dedicated to making it meaningful, successful, and safe.

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What else should I know?

Some of the Hindu festivals are large and exciting, and you might want to be there for them. There are also certain auspicious months for Nepalese marriages, and that can be a memorable experience as well. Additionally, there are festivals that the Buddhists and Muslims celebrate that are poignant and moving. There are also festivals that involve the widespread sacrificing of livestock, goats, and water buffalo. These can be difficult for those who are strict vegetarians and have a strong compassion for life. There are some common festivals celebrated by all, but for the most part a festival is meant to mark an important religious event in the particular sect’s history. Often during a festival all normal activity is brought to a halt and your assignment may be as well, but usually it is for a few days only and can be seen as a welcome change in your life as a volunteer.

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If you have a question that was not covered here please contact us. We will respond within 24 hours week days, and on Mondays following a weekend.