People who go to Nepal most likely want one thing: trekking and hiking. The Himalayas run through the whole of Nepal from west to east and extend for around 3000 km along their entire length from Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and India. Numerous trekking routes, first of all the most famous Annapurna Circuit Trek, the Everst Basecamp Trek or the Langtang Valley Trek lure to the mountains.
The mountains are calling and I must go.
Yes!? But before that you need to get a TIMS Card (Trekkers' Information Management System card), pay the entry fees ("Entry Permit") and apply for a Trekking Permit, which is only required for visiting certain areas. All required documents will be checked at checkpoints along the way. Often even copies of all documents have to be handed in. Failure to comply with this requirement may be penalized. The TIMS Card is required for all trekking routes in Nepal. The Trekking Permit is only required in the restricted zones and the Entry Permit for visiting National Parks or Conservation Areas.
WHAT IS THE TIMS CARD?
The TIMS Card is the trekking permit required to officially trek in Nepal. TIMS means Trekkers' Information Managament System. The Trekking Permit was introduced in 2008 by the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). Since 2010, a distinction has been made between "Free Individual Trekkers" and "Group Trekkers". Organized Groups" differentiated. "Free Indidviudal Trekkers" receive a green TIMS card (Green TIMS Card or FIT TIMS). People for whom the permit is requested through an agency will receive a blue TIMS card (Blue TIMS or GT TIMS).
The TIMS is intended to be a mandatory registration database for trekkers in Nepal, like the registration of foreign travel (as can also be done on a voluntary basis at the foreign ministries), in order to know about their whereabouts in case of emergency or. to be able to take necessary security measures.
HOW MUCH DOES A TIMS CARD COST?
A TIMS card for "Free Individual Trekker" costs US$ 20 (NRs. 2.000), for "Group Trekkers", where the trekking agency takes care of this service, the card costs US$ 10 (NRs. 1.000) per trekking tour per person per entrance fee! If several treks are undertaken in succession, a new TIMS card must be applied for each one! (At least that's how I understood it!)
Although the prices are in US dollars, only people who apply for the trekking permit through an agency can pay the fee in US dollars. Otherwise the costs are to be paid in Nepalese Rupees (NPR)! As a conversion is mostly 1 US$ = 100 NPR assumed regardless of the current exchange rate.
In Kathmandu there is an ATM machine right nearby. In Pokhara it is better to withdraw money already in Lakeside.
WHAT IS A TREKKING PERMIT AND WHERE DO I NEED IT??
A trekking permit is only needed in certain regions in Nepal. The so-called "Restricted Areas" are only allowed to be visited with an agency and an official trekking permit, which must be applied for in advance through the Immigration Office. The group size must be at least two people. An individual visit is not allowed.
Since for some regions in Nepal, which may be individually traveled or visited, the. As the trekking is allowed, an entry permit is required, which also has to be applied for and paid in advance, there is often confusion with the "real" trekking permit.
For a better understanding: In Nepal, roughly four permits for trekking and hiking can be distinguished besides the TIMS Card:
- Entrance fees for the National Parks (like.B. Langtang, Chitwan), which for the most part can only be paid for at the entry points – but sometimes life is easier if they have already been procured in Kathmandu! – Fees for the National Parks and where they can be applied for everywhere
- Entrance fees for the Conservation Parks (this includes z.B. Annapurna Region& Gaurishankar), which must be organized in advance and may also be visited alone (with the exception of Manaslu Conservation Park) – Info on Conservation Areas& ) Links to the application forms of the NTNC (National Trust for Nature Conservation)
- special trekking permits (= the famous Trekking Permit) for the restricted areas (z.B. like for Dolpa, Mustang, Manaslu) – these have to be applied for through an agency via the Immigration Office in advance>2 persons – general info about trekking in Restricted Areas from the Immigration Office
- extra permits for climbing mountains (expeditions)
Restricted Zones are approximately (listing of Restricted Zones with entry fees from Immigration Office): Taplejung District, Sankhuwasabha, Solukhumbu, Dolakha, Rasuwa District, Gorkha District, Manang, Mustang, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Bajhang, Darchula.
The cost of the trekking permit (entry fee) depends on the region visited.
Note: If the Restricted Area is also part of the Conservation Area, the TIMS Card, the Conservation Area Entrance Permit and the Permit of Entry from the Immigration Office are required z.B. in the Manaslu region (Lho, Samagaun, Prok, Bihi) is required.
Alone may be visited about (no claim to completeness):
- Annapurna Conservation Area (Annapurna Basecamp Trek, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Ghorepani Poonhill Trek, Ghorepani Ghandruk Circuit Trek, Machhapuchhre Model Trek) – 2.000 NPR per person
- Everest Region (Gaurishankar Conservation Area – 2.000 NPR per person, Sargarmatha National Park 3.390 NPR per person)
- Langtang National Park& Helambu (Langtang Valley, Gosainkund, Tamang/Tatopani, Helambu) – 3.390 NPR per person
WHAT DO I NEED FOR ISSUING THE TIMS CARD AND TREKKING PERMIT?
To get your TIMS card, here's what you need to know:
- Trekking route and approximate start and end dates
- The places where you start and finish the trekking route (Entry& Exit points)
- Emergency contacts in Nepal and/or at home
- Insurance policy including phone number and coverage
Note: The visa must still be valid until the end date of the planned trekking trip!
You also need:
- At least 2 copies of your passport
- 2 passport photos
- enough money in Nepalese rupees
WHERE CAN I GET THE TIMS CARD, THE ENTRY PERMIT& APPLY FOR THE TREKKING PERMIT?
The issuance of the TIMS card can be applied for at the offices of TAAN (Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal) in addition to the main contact points in Kathmandu and Pokhara described below. However, only the TIMS tickets are available there, the entrance fees cannot be paid there in advance. It therefore makes more sense to contact the offices that can issue both TIMS Card and Entry Permits for "Individual Trekkers" right away. For the "restricted zones", applying for a trekking permit directly is not possible (the application is done by the approved agencies through the Immigration Office).
APPLICATION FOR THE TIMS CARD, THE ENTRY& TREKKING PERMITS IN KATHMANDU
In Kathmandu there are two important contact points for tourists: on the one hand the Immigration Offices for the extension of visas and the issuance of the "real" trekking permits and on the other hand the Tourist Service Center Bhrikutimandap, where the issuance of the TIMS Card and the Entry Permits takes place.
It is located in Pradarshani Marg, about 10min along Durbar Marg from Ratna Park transport hub. From Thamel you need about 15-20min by foot. The TIMS office is to the left of the entrance.
The Tourist Service Center in Kathmandu is open 365 days a year from 10:00 to 17:00. At noon, there is supposedly an unofficial lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00.
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The Immigration Office (Department of Immigration on the map) is located on Kalika Marg, about another 10 minute walk from the Nepal Tourism Board.
APPLYING FOR THE TIMS CARD, THE ENTRY& TREKKING PERMITS IN POKHARA
The issuing of the TIMS card and the entry permit is done in Pokhara by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, which shares a building with the Nepal Tourism Board (Tourist Service Center, Tourist Information) in Damside (the neighborhood is also called Pardi).
To do this, simply walk along Lakeside Road from the Lakeside neighborhood towards the airport/bus stop. At the Immigration Office (in Sahid Chowk) at the big "traffic circle" cross the road and follow the road to the right (towards a Nepal Rastra Bank). Then turn right onto Rastra Bank Road. At the end of the road, the Nepal Tourist Board is on the right hand side.
In Pokhara, as far as I know, only the Entry Permit for the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) can be applied for!
Supposedly this is open year round from 10:00 to 16:00.
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WHAT YOU SHOULD DO AFTER RECEIVING YOUR TIMS CARD, ENTRY PERMIT OR TREKKING PERMIT!
COPY and that means all documents including your passport in multiple copies (I recommend at least 5 copies!). At just about every checkpoint along the way, you will not only need to show a copy of your passport, TIMS Card, and Entry/Trekking Permit, but you will often need to hand in a copy. Copy stores in remote villages are naturally happy for you to copy from them. But they are immensely more expensive than in any other place. After all, you have no other choice.
To be on the safe side, I would always take a few passport photos for any bureaucratic concerns in Nepal!