Many of you will be familiar with my oft-repeated reference to volunteers “passing the baton” from one to the next, by which we mean helping to brief each other and maintain continuity in the projects. We send all volunteers’ reports and project updates of course, but once we put volunteers in touch with each other, lots more information is shared – each previous volunteer can prove to be invaluable as a sort of ‘personal travel advisor’, as in the following email correspondence between previous volunteer, Julie, and future volunteer, Nicki about the experience at Amar Jyoti.
Kate from People and Places has forwarded on your email address to me as I am hoping to follow in your footsteps and volunteer in Nepal this Autumn. As you can imagine I am full of questions but don’t want to bombard you with them all straight away. I will also be contacting the other volunteers so will probably share the questions out between you! Please don’t hold back on the negatives – there are bound to be some!
We have not yet finalised dates (poor Kate!) and one of my main concerns is how long a placement to take and if I will be able to do something worthwhile during Dashain. You might be able to help me make that decision.
You will probably want to know a little about me. I am just about to retire from full time teaching. I will now have the opportunity to fulfil a life long dream.
I look forward to hearing from you
We went from Oct 9th to Nov 9th, flew Qatar Air
We had the first week off as the school suddenly decided to close for the rice harvest
You just have to be adaptable with the Nepalese . Luckily the pleasant surroundings helps one go with the flow!
Ideas for free time
Tiger Mountain have other lodges and Paddy went to Jungle Lodge by bus for a few days. Paddy can give you details
(If I went again I would go to Bhardia Lodge )
There was world competition elephant polo at Jungle Lodge – they change elephants half time I hear!
I decided to stay at the lodge and went on 3 walks with the lodgeguides, part of the Royal Trail, Local Village, and down to the valley to see the vultures and hawks.
Just being so well looked after, reading and the peace of the mountains was wonderful. The bonus of the lodge is dinner in the evening with the interesting guests who come to stay most only for about 3 days.
If you are the brave type you could take micro light flight from Pokhara including one with hawks flying along- not cheap but people similar age to me staying at the lodge said it was incredible to fly alongside the mountain tops of the Annapurna’s
Flying from Pokhara to Kathmandu is easy and quick but book an early flight as there are always delays it seems
We would like to have spent more time in Kathmandu although busy and noisy there is lots of history
We managed to go to Bhaktapur for half a day at the end – would definitely recommend
Would like to have gone to Patan
Tiger Mountain Tours who organised hotel etc in Kathmandu very helpful and I think they would have ideas and recommendation
We got the Hotel to get us a taxi.
You will have a great time in Nepal
Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a wonderfully informative email about your time in Nepal. I loved reading about your trekking, and about others flying with hawks. Would I brave that I wonder?! The weather sounded very variable when you were there – what sort of clothes are suitable? Your email made such interesting reading and I may well email questions in the future, if that is ok.
I am flying out mid October and staying until the week before Christmas. That time covers two Nepalese holidays but having read your email I am not too concerned now about how I will fill my time!
Hello Nicki – Quite happy to answer any questions if I can
The temperature decreases through quite a few degrees in November
Most days for school I wore trousers and a tee shirt, as time progressed first added a fleece then a cardigan as well
The school classrooms have very little sun and become cold later on.. Class 3 faces north and has only shutters no glass ..
Even as we were leaving, the walk to school was sunny and it was warm walking home.
What to take
Washing clothes is easy, hot water every day in your lodge, bowl under sink and if you ask they will give you eco washing powder
Previous volunteer did not recommend laundry for anything that you want to keep the same size!
Drying becomes more difficult as Dec progresses
I found elasticized travel washing line and few pegs invaluable as it stretched across my balcony in the sun
When we arrived washing dried in hours during Dec it took 2/3 days
Tops ( tee-shirts) for school that dry easily are good. School staff wear smart casual.
At the lodge very few dressed up for the evenings and I never found it warm enough to go sleeveless in the dining room at night
I just took a couple of casual smart tops and two cardigans, I like to change after school also one pair black trousers and jeans
I never wore the skirts I had taken but we arrived later than you will.
Noticed some guests just wore a stole/scarf with day clothes
(As all other guests only stay maximum to 4 nights doesn’t matter if you keep wearing the same thing, everyone is travelling and casual)
Shoes; Need a sole with some grip if you want to take short path to school ( saves about 45mins I think)
I wore light trekking shoes and some evenings flat shoes I had taken
Steps up and down to main lodge means heeled shoes are out.
I took my hiking boots as I liked support when I did a few treks from lodge.
In fact Millets did well for me – lightweight quick dry socks (found cool max dried quickest), trek shoes in sale in Sept, trek lightweight trousers ,
(thin long sleeve shirt if you want to more tropical lodge in south
Pokhara shops mainly sell walking gear and it is not expensive so easy to buy fleece, trousers and socks if you are cold
A small backpack to take lunch, water and books each day
Lodge provides a hot water bottle in December but I am a cold morsel and took travel kettle and my own hot water bottle as well
Lodge will provide tea / coffee any time you would like it so not needed for that.
There were 2 up style sockets in my room but in hotels will need travel adapter
Both Paddy and I found our UK mobiles would send and receive texts from UK but not phone calls worth a try.
My phone couldn’t be unblocked for Nepalese sim was quite happy for Paddy to have the sim and I used text and email for home.
Take at least one paperback – can change on book shelf there. During the week after the walk home, tea and cakes school preparation then dinner I was ready for bed
Friday afternoons and later on Saturdays I enjoyed reading.
It is not possible to walk to Pokhara takes about 30 mins in jeep but we got a lift there and back on Saturdays
Sorry this seems longwinded but away for a while from tomorrow and want to do it when I am thinking
(Many guests at the lodge had done a 5day trek between the tea houses from Pokaha and loved it before coming for a few days rest at Tiger Lodge).
PS If thinking of going to other lodges, Marcus will arrange when you are there have a good read about all tiger mountain lodges they do online before you go.
PPS I did not take a coat just a light rain jacket and apart from a few spots there was no rain
In the last week early morning and late night sometimes wished I had an anorak like Paddy but I managed without by layering and I did not want to carry it on the journey there.
So not sure as you are there longer into Dec how cold it will get
Doubtless, this correspondence will continue – volunteers often stay in touch with each other long after they return from their placements, sometimes forming long-term friendships following their shared volunteer experiences!
And, of course, we love to share in all their news!
Thanks to all volunteers for creating such a strong network!