A magnificent journey awaits you in the valley of the Himalayas. Nepal’s capital and largest city is a pristinely located metropolitan area with stunningly beautiful natural surroundings and a vibrant, highly spiritual local culture. Sitting high in the mountains, Kathmandu is also isolated from much of the developed world and lacks many infrastructural advancements that outsiders may take for granted. Volunteering in Kathmandu in areas such as education, environmental preservation, and healthcare will provide valuable services to the city while allowing volunteers to broaden their perspective of life itself.
Projects & Placements
Many volunteer placements in Kathmandu are focused on various areas of community development. Potential participants who are interested in health care, urban planning, social rights, sustainability, education, and the like will find no shortage of openings with local volunteer organizations and NGOs. Different volunteer programs in Nepal will likely have you working both in city limits of Kathmandu, and in nearby villages which lack access to many vital resources.
Beyond social and community services, volunteer work in Kathmandu in the areas of environmental and wildlife preservation is also quite popular. The Himalayas are a rich and wondrous natural habitat, and many local organizations are devoted to the preservation of its lush forests and tremendous diversity of animal species in the face of increasing industrial expansion. If your interests lay in eco-conservation and animal work, then there is hardly a more picturesque and abundant environment on the face of the earth to get involved in than the majestic natural surroundings of Kathmandu.
Most opportunities for volunteering in Kathmandu are offered year round. Kathmandu counter-intuitively enjoys a fairly mild climate year round compared to other regions of Nepal, making any time of the year opportune for volunteer programs. While winters do not get to be exceedingly cold, summers can be quite hot and humid, followed by the rainy monsoon season. Whenever you volunteer in Kathmandu, do not overpack because many commodities are available to purchase very inexpensively in the city.
Life in Kathmandu
Volunteers unaccustomed to travel in developing countries are viable to undergo a healthy dose of culture shock upon volunteering abroad in Kathmandu. While the city is indeed the most industrialized in the country, it still lacks many elements of an advanced infrastructure, which may be taken for granted in the developed world. Depending on your volunteer placement in Kathmandu, living conditions are likely to be quite basic. It is important to come with a flexible attitude and you will leave with an enlightened understanding of how, when it comes to material possessions, less is more.
Nepal is a very religious country, its inhabitants primarily observing Hinduism and Buddhism. There are many beautiful temples and monuments to visit while volunteering in Kathmandu, and some placements even involve teaching Buddhist monks at local monasteries, exposing volunteers to the Nepalese religious traditions fully. While the city is indeed governed by a fairly conservative ethic, there is a lively counterculture which also makes volunteer work in Kathmandu fun and exciting. Reggae bars with live music performances, funky marketplaces abundant with offbeat commodities, and and plentiful “Free Tibet” paraphernalia all make for a lively time spent volunteering abroad in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is also one of the cheapest cities in the world to live in. Meals and transportation costs will never run you more than a few dollars at a time, and prices are usually negotiable. Transportation throughout the country is also easily accessible from the city’s main airport or bus terminal, making frequent weekend getaways for trekking, kayaking, or simple relaxation a consistent possibility if you ever tire of exploring the city.
Accommodation & Visas
Your volunteer program in Kathmandu will likely organize accommodations for you depending on the length of your stay. Homestays are a very popular choice, offering foreign volunteers intimate insight into the life of a Nepalese family and the opportunity to form relationships which last a lifetime. You are likely to be invited to go on outings with the family too, which will give you a truly culturally immersive experience as a volunteer in Nepal. Apartments or flats are also available for individuals who volunteer in Kathmandu, and program providers will typically help to facilitate these accommodations for individuals or for groups of volunteers.
Tourist visas which last for up to 90 days are easily attainable upon entry into the country, so if you are volunteering abroad in Nepal for three months or less there is no need to organize a visa in advance. If you are planning to volunteer in Kathmandu for more than three months, then you may need to apply for a volunteer visa. Communicate early with your program provider about the logistics of obtaining an appropriate visa to avoid last minute hassles.
Benefits & Challenges
No matter where you come from or what your field of interest, volunteering abroad in Kathmandu will be a truly life changing experience. It is a fun, naturally beautiful, and spiritually enriching city which has the power to shape new perspectives about the meaning and importance of volunteer work abroad. If you are interested in positively impacting a community in need while undergoing the personal development experience of a lifetime, think no further than a volunteer program in Kathmandu. It is likely to be the best decision you have ever made.