Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Table of Contents

  1. How do I register ?
  2. Where can I find more information on Nepal ?
  3. What is the security situation in Nepal?
  4. What is Himalayas?
  5. What is the focus of HFSP?
  6. What is the logistic of HFSP?
  7. What are the things I will need for the trip.?
  8. What do I do to prepare for the trip?
  9. What are some “Dos and Don’ts” for the trip?
  10. What are some health concerns ?
  11. What is the appropriate clothing to bring?

How do I register ?

Write or email to International Institute of Field Studies for detailed information about the Program including Registration Form, Waiver Form.  The Brochure, Registration Form and Booklet will provide you with all the information you will need to know about the program, schedule, how to register, due date, payment schedule and other necessary information.

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Where can I find more information about Nepal?

[Program Hand Book will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know in regard to the Nepal trip.  Information like, dos and don’ts, climate, what to bring, what not to bring, health related information, precautions that need to be taken, and so on.  If you are looking for more information than what is available in the Program Hand Book there are may interesting web sites.  You could start  from government web site http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/np.html and a private News web site  www.nepalnews.com,  they will link you to many other interesting Nepalese web sites.

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What is the security situation in Nepal?

Since the breakdown of ceasefire on August 27, 2003, between the revel group and the government, clashes have been going on in different parts of the country but mainly in the western region.  However, in the last 5 or 6 years there has not been a single incident where western volunteers and experts working in the remote area or tourists have ever been physically harmed.  The places we are visiting are also relatively very quite.  With this background in mind, it will be fair to say that traveling to Nepal for Tourist is safe.  The number of tourist this year has increased more than 30%, compared to last

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What are the Himalayas?

Stretching over 2500 kilometer, the Himalayas constitute on of the most complex ecological and cultural system in the World.  The Himalayas region, broadly defined, provides the life-support base for some 50 million people and an estimated 400 million in the plains.

Politically, the Himalayas include Nepal and Bhutan, parts of China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the border region of northern Myanmar and Thailand, and many diverse part of China.  In the past 30 years, unprecedented political tension have beset most of the Himalayan region, resulting in a large-scale military presence in many areas, putting special pressures on the ecology of the mountain massif.

Culturally, the Himalayas are region traversed by three of the major linguistic, racial and cultural dividing lines of Asia.  In some parts there is predominance of Tibetan Buddhism culture; in other, Hindu, Nepali and Indian culture; and in still other s a splattering of Islam and Christianity.  In addition, for centuries, the Himalayas – real or Mythic – have held a special sway on the minds of imagination of the people: they are part of the “Sacred geography,”  a “landscape of the imagination, the “abode of God,” and the “original and fountainhead of spiritual and poetic fulfillment.”  The Himalayas are thus an integral part of the culture and spiritual heritage of millions of people on the Indian subcontinent.

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What is the focus of the HFSP?

The focus of the HFSP 2002 is the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.  Its emphasis is on “field observation.” Hence, all participants are encouraged to do the following:

  1. To observe with a variety of people – children, women, officials, doctors, nurses, etc.– life in its various
    facets; often the various organizers of the Program will act as interpreters and translators.
  2. To observe the state of the environment – forest, agriculture fields, sanitation conditions, water supplies, use of
    energy, etc. – and make notes to be shared with each other and at informal seminars and meetings that are regularly organized for this purpose.
  3. To learn about tourism and its social and environmental impacts.
  4. To learn about health care systems, family planning programs, childcare schemes and needs, etc.
  5. To learn about various development projects, such as road construction, television, cinema, radio and tourism.
  6. To understand the social and political pressures on young people for migration to the lowlands.
  7. To learn about various environmental or development movements at grass-root levels.
  8. To observe the architecture and construction materials of various structures on the way and their relationship to
    geography and other conditions.
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What is the logistic of the HFSP?

HFSP 2002 is conducted in the central Himalayas, in the Kingdom of Nepal.The area of study is environment, development and human ecology of the Himalayas.  All travel and other arrangements for the group are made by IIFS, in consultation with ICIMOD, Tourism Nepal, Forest Department, National Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Canadian Cooperation Office. 

When ever possible, a number of scientists, environmental groups, government officials, foresters, teachers, journalists, healthcare workers and politicians will be invited to meet with the participants in the program to share their views and life experiences, and to lead field visits to specific sites and projects.

The Group will under take trekking and hiking trips in the Annapurna range at heights of up to 3,000 metres.  The trips are on well-traveled routes.  No “mountain climbing” is involved and no special skills are needed.At no stage is anything undertaken thatcan be considered dangerous or risky.The Group is accompanied by the course coordinator and an associate of the Program, as well as by a leader employed by reputable trekking company who is familiar with the geology, physical geography and life in the region.The trek leader will also act as a translator and interpreter.Most of the ground travelling of the Group will be in a specially hired bus.  The trekking company is a private agency in Kathmandu, especially licensed by the government; it also arranges all the meals, overnight stays in tents and transportation of all the baggage during trekking.

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What are the things I will need for the trip?

Tents, sleeping bags, mats for sleeping on, spoons, forks and other utensils will all be provided while camping during trekking and rafting.Other personal items to bring: towels; soap; wash cloths; toothbrush and toothpaste; toilet paper and/or tissue; shaving set; items of feminine hygiene for women; insect repellent; sun blocks; water bottle with water purification apparatus or medications; flashlight with extra batteries; plastic sandwich boxes of the Tupperware variety; Ziploc bags; first aid kit; altimeter, compass, binoculars (all optional); large plastic bag for protecting camera, clothing, and other valuables; and snow goggles/sunglasses.During trekking all baggage will be carried by porters; all meals will be cooked by cooks; guidance will be rendered by the Guides; and tents are pitched at campsites by the camping crew.  If you don’t wish to share a tent provided by the organizer, you would need to pack your own tent which should be able to withstand fairly cold weather and windy conditions.  When trekking, you carry only those items that you may need for 5-6 hours of trekking (e.g., camera, film rolls, toilet paper, journal, reading material, water and special food items, first aid kit, etc.) – this all should not weigh more than 6 – 8 lbs. ( 3-4 kg).  When not trekking, we will have our chartered bus.  Again, you will not be carrying baggage yourself.

In view of the above, a backpack would be most convenient (consider the type that has zip-away or hideaway straps).  A small bag for your passport, air ticket, cash, traveller’s cheques and other valuables, with plastic bags to keep them dry and organized, is strongly advised.Before you leave, reinforce your backpack to prevent having to do repairs on the road.  Treat it with waterproofing material such as Scotchguard for water repellency.Bring along a repair kit containing safety pins, a sewing kit, and rope or string for emergencies or use as a clothesline.It is also a good idea to bring along few large garbage bags.You can easily slip your pack into one of the garbage bags, protecting it from moisture.  Overall, if you think in terms of what one would take on a one or two week camping trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta or Algonquin Park in Ontario, you are probably on the right track.

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What do I do to prepare for the Trip?

  1. Documents to bring:
    A passport is essential.  An International Certificate of Vaccination should be kept with your passport at all times.  See below for more details.  Student or youth hostel cards may help you get occasional discounts.
  2. Passport:
    All foreigners require a valid passport to travel to Nepal, and if you plan to include Tibet, Bhutan, or India, to those countries as well.  The passport must be valid for at least for two months after the trip is to end.  Make two photocopies of the first page of your passport (the page with passport number, picture and other relevant information).  Keep one copy at your home in Canada, and give the other to a coordinator of the Program.  All information in this page is crucial in the event of loss of a passport.
  3. Obtaining a passport:
    If you don’t have a passport, or if yours has expired, you can obtain an application form at any Post Office.  For a Canadian passport, you need to include two recent photographs, proof of citizenship, the signature of a guarantor (both on the form and on one photo), and the fee (currently $60).
  4. Visa for Nepal:
    In order to enter Nepal, a visa is required.The fee for the visa depends on the length of stay.Nepal has a consulate office in Toronto (Mr. Kundar Dixit, Honorary Consul) where a visa can be obtained (Tel: [416] 484-1838) but a visa can also be obtained at the Tribhuban International Airport upon arrival.The visa form can also be obtained from the International Institute of Field Studies office.  It is the responsibility of each participant to obtain the visa.
    You will need two small photographs.  (A few copies of additional photographs may come in handy.)  If you are planning to extend your trip to India you will have to obtain a visa in Canada itself. Indian consulates are located in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
  5. Immunization:
    Before leaving Canada you should ensure that you have been vaccinated against common tropical illnesses.
  6. Medical Insurance:
    All HFSP participants must make their own arrangements for medical and health insurance during the Program.
    Blue Cross offers one such plan.You may find it worthwhile to make enquiries regarding this with your present insurance company.  Travel Cuts offers travel insurance with medical coverage and may be worth looking into.  Call around a number of travel agents who can give you an idea of the types of travel insurance available, their coverage and cost.  Blue Cross has a toll-free number: 1-800-688-6262.
  7. Property Insurance:
    All participants must make their own individual arrangements for insuring valuable belongings (camera, laptop computer, tape recorder, etc.). Sometimes these items could be attached as a “rider” on your home insurance policy with an additional premium. Judging from past experiences, having such insurance save a lot of unhappiness in case of loss, damage or theft.
  8. Luggage:
    On international flights you are allowed two pieces of luggage and one piece that can be carried on board, provided it fits in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. (Check the maximum dimensions and weight allowed by the airlines.)  All of your luggage must have a name and address tag on it.  It would be advisable to have one inside as well. This very important step should be taken before leaving the country.High value items should be declared upon entry in Nepal. If they are imported items which look new, you should carry a receipt for purchase to avoid headaches at Canadian Customs.
  9. Physical fitness:
    Having made the decision to go to the Himalayas, GET FIT! Jogging, swimming, cycling – in fact any regular exercise is a good preparation. Begin your program of regular exercise at least three months before departure. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the Himalayas. It is also equally important to approach the Himalayas with a sound and tolerant attitude. Health instructions will be provided at various points during the trip. Please follow them closely. You have a social responsibility to remain healthy. If you are sick you will hold back the entire Group.

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Some “Dos and Don’ts” for the trip.

All HFSP participants are expected to act in a manner that does not, in any way, hamper the harmonious functioning of the Program or interfere in the life and pursuits of anyone else in the Group.  Specially, the following Code of Ethics shall be adhered to:

  1. No participants will engage in excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages that may lead to undisciplined behavior.
  2. No participant will consume, buy, sell, exchange or ship any illegal drugs at any time while in the country.
  3. All participants are expected to dress appropriately and in a manner that is not immodest, shabby or disheveled.
  4. All participants are expected to be punctual and regular for various academic, social and other engagements.
    To make a habit of keeping others waiting or not keeping an appointment will be regarded as undisciplined behaviour.
  5. All participants are expected to contribute to various activities of the Program.

It should be noted that in the past all Groups have worked harmoniously and with great enthusiasm, a sense of cooperation and good will.

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What are some health concerns? 

1. Shots:

To travel in Nepal or any other tropical country, you need certain vaccinations. Travel clinics can advise you as to which vaccinations are recommended and at what intervals before travel they should be taken.

2. Meningococcal meningitis:

This shot requires one injection about 4/6 weeks before departure.

3.Typhoid fever:

Two injections are required about 4 weeks apart. If you are in a hurry they can be taken as soon as 2 weeks apart, but this is not recommended.

4. Hepatitis

A: One injection shortly before traveling.

5. Malaria:

Malaria tablets could be obtained by prescription. They are essential. Instructions for use are provided with the tablets. (Other precautions, such as use of mosquito netting or insect repellent are also advisable.) However, the Himalayan region we will be traveling in is a relatively low-risk area for malaria.

6. Avoiding dirty needles:

A kit of sterile needles and other medical supplies designed to minimize risk of infection for travelers in Third World countries would be helpful. Each participant is also advised to have the following information

available: blood type, any health problems, any allergies or reactions to any drugs, name of your family doctor in Canada, medical insurance number, etc.

7. First aid kit:

A basic first aid kit should include: Band-aids, gauze pads, cotton bandage, sterile dressing, adhesive tape, antiseptic and burn creams, a low reading thermometer, scissors and tweezers.

8. Medical kit:

You may never need it, but you are advised to take along medication for headaches, a general course of antibiotics, a solution to cure severe gastro problems, moleskins (for blisters), UV and blockout (sunburn) cream, lip seal and heat rub for aching limbs. (Refer to: Medicine for Mountaineering, ed. James Wilkerson. Publisher: Mountaineers, Washington, DC.)

9. Sickness prevention:
While trekking, it is very important that certain precautions be taken at all times.These are:

  • DON’T DRINK WATER from the streams, however “clear” the water may appear. You must use your water purifier all the time, without fail. Bottled water is generally available along the trekking routes but one back-up plan to access pure water is strongly recommended.
  •  WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly before each meal, and wash you body every day to counter prickly heat or skin infection (during treks, bathing might not be possible).
  •  DON’T PUT YOUR FOOD (bread, cookies, etc.) on any surface before eating.

Some common problems:

    1. Gastroenteritis:
      Gastro problems are the main concerns for travelers in Nepal, and particularly for trekkers. Since we will have good deal of control on our food on the treks, we are likely to safeguard ourselves quite well. However, if you should get diarrhea, don’t panic – it happens to almost everyone.  Usually bowel movements normalize within 24 hours, and diarrhea should subside within a few days.  Remember to keep up fluids, rest sufficiently on the trek and take medicine such as codeine for stomach cramps.
    2. Altitude sickness:This occurs when a trekker ascends too quickly beyond altitudes of 3000-3500 metres without adequate time for acclimatization. Since our trekking involves only low altitude (below 3000 metres), we should not experience this problem.
    3. Keeping healthy:
      Before visiting the Himalayas, a thorough medical check-up is advisable.  This is your personal responsibility and should be done without fail.  People with a history of chest pain, asthma, bronchial or heart problems are advised not to apply for this Program. A visit to the dentist is also recommended before departure.

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What is the appropriate clothing to bring?

In summer months, most of southern and central Nepal gets quite hot, and in some places extremely hot. So bring light clothing for the hot days. However, the Himalayas have a very different climate from the lowlands.   At the height of 1,500 m (about 5,000 ft.) or more it is never very hot.  In fact in the evening it gets quite chilly.  June to August is the rainy season, when there can be heavy rains for many hours. The program ends before the rainy season (monsoon) starts, but during the month of May occasional pre-monsoon rains are quite common. So, having a rain gear can be very helpful. Since we trek up to the height of 3,000 metres, it can be very cold at night, possibly with temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius. So be prepared.  In view of all these weather conditions, in addition to usual personal clothing your travel clothing should include a sweater or pullover, shorts, long skirt/dresses (for women), a light jacket and a warmer jacket (ski jacket), swimwear, walking/hiking shoes, a bush hat or baseball hat, a boy-scout whistle, a mask against dust, and some semi-formal clothing for special occasions. As far as possible, clothes should be washable drip-dry. For emergency washing, a bar of soap would be useful. Take along fairly tough clothes.  Dress well and modestly.  In general, women participants should avoid too much revealing clothing. During trekking, shorts and sleeveless shirts are generally acceptable. In towns, women are advised to keep their upper arms, chest and back covered at all time.  By paying close attention to local standards of dress, many problems can be minimized. When invited for dinner or tea, participants are advised not to be dressed too casually, or in a disheveled manner. Please always take your shoes off before entering any temple, Stupa, monastery and private home unless instructed otherwise.

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Himalayan Field Study Program, International Institute of field Studies.

Copyright © 1999-2003  [IIFS]. All rights reserved.

Revised: November 15, 2003 .

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