FAQs

When do I need to arrive in Nepal for the program?

Two days prior to the program orientation date.

What visa do I need to get and where can I get it?

You need to apply for a tourist visa. You can easily get a visa on your arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. You can also apply for it to the Nepalese Embassy in your home country.

Does Insight Nepal receive me at the international airport and provide a transportation to the hotel in Kathmandu?

Yes. We will receive you at the airport and arrange a transportation to the hotel in Kathmandu.

Who will arrange my bus transportation to Pokhara and will there be somebody to greet me at the bus stop ?

Insight Nepal will arrange your bus transportation to Pokhara, and will receive you at the bus stop.

Where can I change my money to Nepali currency? Are there ATM machines in Pokhara ?

You can change your money at the airport or any bank by showing your passport. Moreover, there are several ATM machines in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

How do I pay the program fee? When do I need to pay?

You can pay the program fee through "Western Union/ Money Transfer" service or through wire transfer in our bank accounts. You have to pay the first installment of the program fee six weeks in advance of the program starting date.

What expense does the program fee cover?

The program fee covers expenses incurred for food and accommodation, orientation training, trekking, 3 - day meditation course and office administration. Insight Nepal, at times, also provides support to its placement organizations by donating useful supplies.

What do I need to bring with me to Nepal ?

Insight Nepal will send you information about what items you need to bring and what immunizations/vaccinations you need to take before coming to Nepal, when we confirm your acceptance.

Where will I be staying during the program?

You will be staying with a Nepali host family. Your host family can be changed after the orientation phase of the program.

How many meals a day do I get from my host family?

Your host family will provide you two big meals and tea with snacks every day.

Does my host family speak some English?

A few members of the family can communicate in English.

Can I have my own room or do I need to share with other volunteers ?

Yes, you may have your own room. However, if you are working at the same placement with another volunteer, you may need to share a room with that volunteer.

Can I have some free time for my personal traveling during the program period ?

During the weekend and holidays you will have free time. However, you must inform your placement and host family of your plans to do some personal traveling.

When shall I know about my placement?

At least one month before the program starting date.

What does the normal working hours look like? How many days will I be working in a week?

The normal working hours is 10 am to 4 pm at schools and 10 am to 5 pm at other organizations. You will be working five and a half days per week. Saturday is the weekend in Nepal.

Are phone, electricity and internet services available in my placement site?

There are telephone, electricity and internet services around the Pokhara valley. But internet service may not be available in a few rural areas.

How much money should I bring with me?

US$500 would be sufficient for you to make Visa extensions, for food and beverage during the trek, and for basic personal expenses. However, it depends on how much more you would like to spend on shopping and other recreations.

How can my family members contact me in Nepal?

Your family members can contact you directly via phone or email. You can easily get a local sim card here. In case your family can't get in touch with you directly, your family can contact you through Insight Nepal.




Nasrin Walli

I have always wanted to do some volunteering work abroad and when I read about Insight Nepals programme I knew this is something I would love to do. I was based in a Women's charity where I taught English in the morning and carried out the administrative tasks and design work for the charity. The people were really friendly and I found it very rewarding and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

There are other volunteers who take part in the program and in the evenings and days off we would meet up and explore Pokhara, the town where we stayed. Part of the program includes a trip to Chitwan, a national park which was lovely to see and a trek in the hills which was absolutely amazing.

During your time you stay with a host family who help you settle in to the life in Nepal. The family I stayed with were very welcoming and made my time very enjoyable. I would throughly recommend this program to anyone looking to do some voluntary work. I had a lovely, memorable time and still talk highly about it some 12 years later.

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Katriina O'Kane, Canada

I am thankful to Insight Nepal for everything during my stay in Nepal. My experience is something I will never forget. I was quite nervous before I left, as I had never been anywhere like Nepal before. But I learned it is not as foreign as I first imagined – people are still people no matter where you go.

My time in Nepal passed quickly, as I was only there for the seven-week program. I was busy most days volunteering at Shanti Niketan Boarding School, teaching grades 3 to 6. When I first arrived at the school, I was surprised at the level of English that the students knew. I had been expecting to be teaching beginner English, but the students had been learning every class in English since grade 1, so their knowledge of the language was already quite advanced. I advise anyone going though to bring a big picture book of their home country! It is something I wished many times I had brought with me, as the students (and teachers too!) were so interested in learning about Canada, and seeing any pictures from there.

Teaching itself was a lot more challenging than I had expected, as the school system in Nepal is different in many ways to the one I grew up with in Canada. They did provide full course books for me to go by though, and all the teachers were very helpful with everything. The students too were very dear, although I had a hard time controlling the classes sometimes. My last day was very emotional and memorable. The students had made beautiful pictures and letters, and presented me with flowers. The whole day they chanted "Never forget us!" As if I ever could!

The host family was also very well thought. I stayed with a mother, father, two daughters about my age, and a son. Although one of the daughters was in Germany studying most of my stay, I became good friends with the other. They spoke quite good English (except for the grandmother, who I had to try and use my very poor Nepali language skills with!) and took good care of me. We shared recipes, as I got to learn how to cook Nepali food (Dhal Baat and tarkari) while I taught them some of my favourites.

The trek at the end of my stay was one of the highlights. The views and surrounding were so beautiful and the atmosphere so peaceful. I was there in June, which was lovely because the trekking route was not as busy as during the high seasons. The only down side was the mountains were clouded over many of the days. Still, we had a few mornings with clear views though, and that was truly magical.

Again I would like to extent a big thank you to Naresh and Manjari for taking such good care of me while I was in Nepal. They truly looked after all my needs and answered all my many questions, but most of all opened their hearts to me during my stay.

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Helen Perez

I have always wanted to come to Nepal and when I saw an article about Insight Nepal and their program for volunteering and a cultural experience, I decided that this was the time to fulfill a life-time dream of visiting Nepal.

I arrived in Kathmandu on 6th of November 2003 and my placement for the program was in Pokhara. I arrived in Pokhara and met with the representative of Insight Nepal. I was introduced to the family that I would be living with the next three months and moved in the next day. There were five members of the immediate family and a brother of a family member. Later there were extended family members that permanently moved in so that there were now nine people in the house. I have learned many things living with a Nepali family that one would never know by living on their own. It has been a wonderful experience. After living alone for many years, it took some getting use to all the people but they have become my second family and one I will always stay in contact with.

Through Insight Nepal's program I was placed with an organization called Children-Nepal (CN). It was founded in 1995 by a group of Nepali professional working in the field of education, health and social service. They were concerned about the number of children living on the margins of society, out of reach from existing social institutions. As a result, many of these children are exploited and exposed to physical and mental abuse, substance abuse and crime.

CN also runs a handicraft income-generated project called Suryamukhi(sunflower). This provides young women over the age of 16 with vocational training in sewing and embroidery. This provides income and social support for the women and portion of the proceeds from sales help to fund CN program and operational expenses.

At CN I taught English to the children and also helped in the handicraft section with whatever needed to be done. The children were so enthusiastic and fun to work with, even with little knowledge of Nepali. When I helped in Suryamukhi, the handicraft section, the women were so helpful and I could see they were so thankful to CN for giving them a chance to become self-supporting . None of the women who worked with the handicrafts spoke English but we certainly had lots of fun and they were so talented. I have gained so much by working at CN and will never forget the experiences. The staff at CN were wonderful and I feel I have friends in Nepal forever.

Without going through the Insight Nepal program, I would have never been able to live with a Nepali family nor would I have found such a great place to work. I have found this program to be very good and would recommend it for anyone interested in getting the whole volunteer and cultural experience in a wonderful country.

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Nitsa Diakoloukas

I wanted to write about my experiences in Pokhara, Nepal. First, I will begin with a little history.

The year before, I was in Seoul, Korea for one month. I taught English at an International School. This was a paid job, which is very desirable to many; however it wasn't very fulfilling to me. The children I worked with were wealthy, possessed behavioral difficulties and were not very appreciative. Therefore I wanted to travel again, but participate in a program that would be fulfilling, and that would also make me see the world differently.

I searched the internet and came upon Insight Nepal. I started reading about Nepal, and I became intrigued. I didn't even know where Nepal was, but I had heard about it and it sounded very exotic to me. In fact, I thought it was a city in India. As I read more, I learned that Nepal was its own country with a very diverse and interesting culture. Since, I teach many Asian children back in Canada, I thought this would be the perfect place for me to go to. Here I could learn so much, which could make be a better teacher, and which could also possibly make me a better and more appreciative person, by understanding the other side of the world a little bit better.

Once I decided that Nepal was the place to be, I needed to make sure that Insight Nepal was a legitimate company to go through. I had heard about people being scammed of their money, and/or getting to the country and it wasn't like anything they had been promised. So, I did some research on the internet, read some travel books and contacted Insight Nepal, through its website. I asked for the email addresses of people who had traveled to Nepal in the past, and Insight Nepal provided those emails addresses to me quickly. Once emailing two different people, I received much positive information from them. They had greatly enjoyed their time in Nepal and appreciated all the care. Through this feedback, and all my email interactions, I began to understand that Insight Nepal was indeed an organization that could be trusted. I emailed several questions each day, and always got response right away, with as much information as possible. We often joked about how many questions I asked, but I had to be sure that this was a legitimate company and that Nepal was the place for me, especially when I planned on traveling by myself, which was something I was pretty nervous about.

To sum it all up, everything Insight Nepal you said became true. Before I arrived, I was asked many questions to ensure the right fit for me, within a family and within a volunteer job. Throughout all my interactions, everything was well organized and ensured my safety while traveling alone through Nepal.

When I arrived in Kathmandu, I was greeted by the manager of the MT. Annurpurna Guest House. He collected my luggage and drove me to his Guest House. The Guest House was clean and had some modern amenities. It was a nice place to stay in. More importantly, it was in the middle of the markets—how great for shopping! The manager was so kind, helpful and hospitable. Then I took the bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, which was arranged, and I was greeted when I arrived. Then I joined my host family, to begin my family stay. They were so kind and hospitable upon my arrival.

The next day after I arrived, the orientation began. I got an hour and a half of Nepali lessons for three days, got to know the do's and don'ts of Nepali culture and we went sight seeing. We visited Phewa lake, Devi Falls, the Tibetan refugee camp (near lakeside), a Buddhist monastery, and we also visited the lakeside and the city called Mahendropol. Insight Nepal was also kind enough to help me get postcards and send them home to Canada. After the orientation period, I was taken to CHILDREN-Nepal to meet the director. I would begin my volunteer work the next day.

I was so lucky that I got the family that I did. Uma Baral and his wife Sabitri are such lovely, amazing and caring people. They went above and beyond the expectations, to make me happy, comfortable, and to make me feel like I was a real member of their family. I am really happy with the volunteer placement I got as well. When the plan to teach in a government school didn't work out, I was placed in CHILDREN-Nepal. Here I had the chance to work with community children, to teach, and to work for an NGO that works hard to guarantee the rights of children. This was perfect for me, and everything I wanted to do. This placement was so fulfilling because I worked everyday to help improve the conditions that children live in, and I saw the positive impact CN had made. This was exactly what I wanted to do. So it all ended up working out for the best, meaning I got lucky when I wasn't able to teach in the school and was placed at CN instead. This shows that everything does happen for a reason.

Uma and Ram both made me feel like a real member of their family and team. Uma was always buying new foods for me to eat, as he knew I was getting bored of Dal Bhat, he took me all around Pokhara on my days off for sight seeing, took me shopping, and allowed me to accompany him when visiting family. He didn't have to do all that but insisted that I was a guest and like family, and it was his duty to do so. Ram also provided me with snacks everyday, when we had our tea break, which was usually yummy roti and chutney, he invited me to his home for dinner and invited me as a special guest to the Rotary club special year-end dinner. I always felt respected while volunteering there. Both, we also kind enough to let me use their internet services to email friends and family back home.

By the end of my stay, Insight Nepal organized a trip to the Royal Chitwan National Park to go on a three day jungle safari (which I was really excited about), as well as my transportation, and accommodations on my way home.

The service was always very dependable, and I really appreciate it. I would recommend Insight Nepal to anyone. I had a great experience here, even when experiencing culture shock; but Naresh, Uma, and Ram made things very easy and enjoyable for me.

I will never forget my trip to Nepal and my work at CHILDREN-Nepal. I have now become a better teacher and more importantly, I believe that I have become a better person. I hope to share all my experiences with others, to also make them think about the world a little differently.

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Peter Dixon

Having found out about Insight Nepal from a book of overseas volunteer organisations, we thought that it would offer a unique experience of an amazing country. I was a bit anxious when we were each asked to send $20 US through the post for an application form, then pay the rest of the fee by Western Union transfer. So, having paid, it was a relief that we were met on our arrival Kathmandu airport by the extremely amiable project co-ordinator Naresh Shrestha, and introduced to our fellow volunteers at a hotel in town.

We were from a number of different backgrounds, a retired Canadian school teacher in her 50s, a hostel worker from Australia in her 40s, an American in his 20s and four of us in our 20s and 30s from Britain. We all wanted to have something more than just a tourist experience, but at the same time we wanted to be organised and given a certain amount of structure for our stay. The three-month programmes run by Insight Nepal allow participants to work for charitable groups, Non-government Organisatons (NGOs) or Schools. The placements could be in Urban, semi-rural or rural locations, depending on the participants' wishes.

A professor from a local University gave us an informal lecture on the history of Nepal. This was extremely interesting and gave us a huge amount of background on a country, which has only been open to tourists since 1989.

On our first night in Kathmandu, we were taken to an evening concert of traditional Nepali music in a local venue. Then for a meal featuring the national dish Dahl Baht, a combination of rice, vegetable curry, hot chilli with lentil soup poured on top and eaten with the hands. If you stay in Nepal, do not expect to avoid this dish. By and large we got the hang of it and even enjoyed it (I lost more than 25 excess pounds during my 3 months in Nepal). The Nepalis like Dahl Baht so much that they might have it 4 times a day.

We were then taken for a 2-day stay in Chitwan National Park, which is situated in the very un-himalayan low land of southern Nepal. An astonishing, unspoilt area, preserved because it was considered to be excellent hunting territory. We were given an elephant ride into the forest and saw rhinos at very close quarters. The park's tigers are elusive, but are seen occasionally. We stayed in a very nice hotel and got to know each other over a cold beer or two.

We were then taken to Nepal's second city, Pokhara, and placed with temporary host families, who in all cases were very welcoming and interested in us. Most of them took our visits as an opportunity to practice their English. During the next week an experienced teacher gave us Nepali lessons at Naresh's Home. The atmosphere in the lessons was light-hearted, but by the end of the week we were all able to impress and amuse the locals with our ability in the language.

As part of the program we then took a 7 day guided trek on the Annapurna trail. This was an incredible experience. We walked several miles a day into the mountains, through isolated villages, stopping off for an occasional coke (yes even here) and bedding down every night in a local guest house. Each morning, before clouds formed, we were given an amazing view of the vast snow-capped mountains around us.

The facilities on the trek were extremely basic, but this added to the fun of the experience. Everywhere we went there were friendly faces and warm hospitality. The local firewater 'Raksi' was available very cheaply everywhere we went, although, at the end of a day's trekking, most of us just wanted to sleep.

On our arrival back in Pokhara, we were given accommodation in one of the many lakeside tourist hotels. Having hot water and clean towels was a great bonus. In fact, during our time in Pokhara we would escape to these havens of luxury on a few occasions.

After this we went to our final placement locations which would last for 2 1/2 months, four of us in Pokhara, (three of us teaching, one working for a children's charity) and two in Kathmandu (working for women's health and HIV awareness groups). Only one of us, the American, Chris, was brave enough to take the rural option. This meant teaching in a village several hours walk from the nearest road. As about 80% of Nepalis live in the countryside this probably gave the most authentic experience of Nepal. Of course this meant living in an area where English was barely spoken, so Chris had to pay very close attention to our Nepali lessons. It also meant being without electricity or anything near to what we might call a toilet.

My wife Ruth and myself were travelling together, and our host, the principal of the school we were working in, gave us a great deal of privacy. However Nepalis are a very open people, and single participants were often expected to share rooms with one or more members of the family. We had a room to ourselves in a large hostel building with about 30 students, some domestic workers, and several members of the Principal's family. There was a very relaxed atmosphere and we felt able to come and go as we wished.

Although a group of students from the University of Michigan lived nearby, foreigners still aroused a huge amount of curiosity from the locals. Everywhere we went children would run up and say 'Hello' or 'Namaste'. Children only very rarely bothered us for gifts or money.

Our placement was in an English medium school, with students aged from 4 to 18. Each subject on the syllabus had course books, which meant that everything was clearly laid out for us. Class sizes varied from 20 or so, to over 50 students, and the larger classes were often quite difficult to control. Nepali teachers will often impose physical discipline on their students, but we chose to send troublemakers out of the room. However, the students were generally very nice and extremely polite, always standing up when a teacher entered or left the room. The standard of spoken English varied quite widely. Some students were absolutely outstanding whereas others seemed to be left behind. It was sometimes a difficult balancing act to keep the whole class involved.

During our stay in Pokhara, there were a number of general strikes imposed by opposition political parties, where businesses and schools were expected to close for the day. People were fearful of breaking these strikes in case their premises were attacked, and the streets emptied of cars and cycles because using them was considered to be breaking the strike. Several days of school were interrupted because of these strikes, although they only tend to happen during one month in the year.

Two classes adopted Ruth and me for their free lessons. They taught us traditional Nepali dancing, and made us perform a very poor tango (the only traditional European dance we could think of) in front of them. We taught them a very silly London song called 'Any Old Iron' which they learnt beautifully. These lessons were quite exhausting, but huge fun.

On our departure, we were given a huge send-off by the school, with speeches, songs and dances and masses of flowers, notes and gifts. Ruth had painstakingly learnt a full Nepali dance for three weeks, and had to perform it, whilst I performed the very male act of giving a speech, which I made up on the spot. One of our adopted classes sang a wonderfully choreographed version of 'Any Old Iron', much to our amusement.

After completing the bone-shaking bus journey back to Kathmandu, we met up with the other volunteers as tourists and swapped experiences. Every single one of us had had an amazing and involving stay that we would never forget. Our expectations had been exceeded in every way, and we had all been glad of having the support of Insight Nepal throughout.

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Nora Poel

My experience with Insight Nepal was very good. Everything was well organized from picking me up at the airport to some Nepali lessons to my host family in Pokhara. Insight Nepal is a very reliable and credible organization. The Program Coordinator Naresh Shrestha is kind and helpful and welcomed me warmly when I arrived in Pokhara. Before I moved to my host family I stayed at his and his wife's home to become familiar with the Nepali culture. Naresh is a very good and patient teacher who taught me not only basics in Nepali but also a lot about Nepali customs and traditions. This was very adjuvant and whenever I had questions or problems during my stay in Nepal I could ask Insight Nepal for help. So I never had the feeling of being left alone. For everyone planning to do volunteer work in Nepal I recommend Insight Nepal!

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Blandine Yernaux, Belgium

My experience with Insight Nepal took place in the summer of 2004 whilst I was studying Anthropology at university in London and seeking an experience in Fair Trade abroad. I had visited Nepal briefly in 2001 and it had made such an impact on me I was searching for someone based in Nepal to help me find a work placement and also a host family where I could become more familiar with Nepalese culture. Insight Nepal, (Naresh and his wife Manjari) were more than I could ask for: they found me a placement in a Fair Trade business where I gained priceless experience and understanding of local realities, a truly enriching time which still nourishes me today in my fair trade pursuits. They helped me prepare for daily exchanges with the locals by teaching me the basics in Nepalese language and culture, which made me feel more confident and comfortable going about my adventures. Most importantly, their warm and understanding presence made me feel at home. They not only provided practical support every time I needed help or information (places to do research, places to buy particular items, finding a doctor, going trekking, saving me from insects, the list goes on!) but also accompanied me throughout my time in Pokhara making sure I was safe, happy and comfortable. I treasure the memories of times spent with Naresh and Manjari, and I would recommend Insight Nepal to anyone braving a Nepalese adventure on their own!

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Magali Jehanne Mmarrannes

What a wonderful experience!

From the Lonely Planet where I found Insight Nepal, to Pokhara where I've lived for almost three months, everything has been easy and magical. Insight Nepal found the perfect placement for me (Women's Skills Development Project), where I helped the business development for Europe. People were highly welcoming; I remember having cried so much at my farewell party when I realized I had to leave because I made so good connections with lots of them. Still now I miss them and we try to keep in touch sometimes.

I also stayed at the best host family in town, I enjoyed having a host sister, and a caring host mother. Finally, Insight Nepal drove me to this amazing trek, where I discovered more on the beauty of this country; we went through Mountains, Jungles, and Rivers...so diverse landscapes!

The culture and kindness of Nepali people is breathtaking. No bad surprises, only pure discovery and happiness. Naresh from Insight Nepal took care of everything. I highly recommend Insight Nepal for people who want to live an unforgettable moment of life in Nepal.

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