For Nepal a visa is needed.
Dutch citizens can obtain their Nepal visa at the consulate on Herengracht in Amsterdam. It takes a few minutes. The application form can be downloaded beforehand.
For climbing Baruntse a permit is needed. The royalty in Spring is $2100 for up to seven members. In Autumn it is $1050. All royalty fees can be found on the website of the Ministry Of Tourism of Nepal. The permit must be collected in person at the ministry.
All cargo that is sent separately must be cleared by the Nepalese customs. Therefore a packing list is required. All items should be marked consumable or re-exportable. For consumable items you pay around 25-30% duty. For re-exportable items the tax is refunded when you leave the country again and export the goods again.
On the airway bill you must provide the 'Name of the consignee'. That would be the expedition name and trekking agency.
The unit of currency in Nepal is the rupee (NPR).
The rates below are the real time updated forex rates coming from www.exchange-rates.org.
Nowadays there are plenty ATMs in Nepal, even in the smaller towns. If you plan to bring cash then US dollars or Euros are the best options. The dollar has been the preferred foreign currency for years but has lost it's position in favor of the Euro now.
KLM (via Delhi, long wait, not recommended), Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have connections from Amsterdam to Kathmandu. It is also possible to fly to Bangkok and then to Kathmandu. The average price is € 1100-1300. There are no direct connections.
We have used Gulf Air. We got an extra baggage allowance of 10 kg per person.
We shipped excess baggage to Kathmandu by Worldwide Baggage Services (only from The Netherlands). 80 kg including insurance costed us € 235. Back to Amsterdam you have to use a local Nepales company; there are plenty in Kathmanu. It is advised that excess baggage is sent to Nepal 2-3 weeks prior to the expedition to allow for sufficient time for duty clearance. This was handled by our trekking agency.
A flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar costs about € 115. It operates daily. To Lukla it is € 123.
We have done a full service expedition for which we needed:
We have a friend in Kathmandu who happens to own a trekking agency: Ngima Sherpa from Unlimited Sherpa Expeditions. He took care of most logistics. And he was one of our Climbing Sherpas too.
We stayed in the Tibet Holiday Inn in the Thamel. This was not a very good hotel. The only good thing was that it was just outside Thamel, only 5 minutes. A better option is the Amar Hotel. This is a good and not so expensive hotel. A double room with attached bathroom was USD 28. The downside is that this hotel is not in Thamel. But a taxi is only 100-150 rupees.
Altitude sickness is a complex of health problems that occur as a lack of oxygen. Usually one will not suffer from it in the lower altitudes (< 3500 m). Almost everybody will have some form of altitude sickness when climbing higher than 5000 meters. A full acclimatization needs 7 to 10 days and your body will not acclimatize fully above 5500 meters. There are three types of altitude sickness. They may occur on their own or together:
Symptoms of AMS are:
You may suffer from AMS if these three facts are all valid:
In addition, you must suffer from one of these:
These two forms of altitude sickness are potentially lethal. You may suffer from HACE if:
To be brief: if you have both AMS and suffer from typical brain disorders (that you normally do not do) you may have HACE.
You may suffer from HAPE if:
Almost everybody will suffer from some kind of headache. A minor headache, which reacts well to painkillers, is not very important. However if you develop a headache during nighttime and it does not react to painkillers, you must wonder whether it is more serious than just AMS.
Here are some tips for avoiding or minimizing the chance that you get altitude sickness:
Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is a well know drug for AMS. It can also be used as a 'prophylaxis'. This is only recommended if a fast altitude gain is inevitable, for instance if you fly to Lhasa without proper acclimatization.
Diamox not only helps against the symptoms of AMS, but also cures it! It help with the acclimatization process. It also seems to help against Cheyne-Stokes respiration.
Do not use sustained release Diamox!
Dosis as prophylaxis: start 24 hours before; 2 doses per day of 250 mg each. Continue taking it every day. Stop after the second or third night on altitude.
Many people suffer from a cough when they are on high altitude. This cough is also known as the Khumbu Cough.
If you get the cough during descent you can try codeine. If your lungs are affected then use antibiotics.
Headache is usually a symptom of AMS. Regular painkillers can be taken, although aspirine is slightly better, because it makes your blood thinner. Aspirine may also help a little against the Cheyne-Stokes respiration.
Sleeping pills are not recommended because they lower down your respiration, which can be dangerous on high altitude. Diamox may help a little if you suffer from Cheyne-Stokes.
Zoldipem and Melatonin are the only pills that have proven to have no negative effects on respiration.
A satellite phone may be convenient. But they are expensive! Thuraya has coverage in parts of Asia (including the Himalayas) and in Europe, not in the Americas. For full world coverage you need an Iridium. The advantage of a Thuraya is that it's cheap and it's light. To add to the costs is a Thuraya ECO-SIM pre-paid card, which is about $ 20. You can buy top-up scratch cards for extra airtime or you can use their website.
We bought the Thuraya SO-2510. Including a $ 80 top-up voucher and ECO-SIM it costed us € 540, which is cheap. We found it on eBay.
The SO-2510 can be used as a dial-up modem as well.
Whenever we had time and the possibility we published our diary on our blog (only in Dutch).
We have one pair of Brondi FX-400 radios. The range should be 8 km (5 miles). These radios can be used to communicate between high camps and base camp. A special license is required in Nepal.