Volunteer in Nepal
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in and around Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang and Pokhara
- Accommodation in homestays
- Between 30 and 60 volunteers start in Nepal each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Affordable program fees
- A special one week volunteer program is available
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Nepal to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Nepal will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Nepal with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Nepal volunteer program has volunteer placements located in four main areas within Nepal – Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang and Pokhara. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal, and placements here are located on the outskirts of the city in rural and urban areas. Chitwan is located approximately 150 kilometeres from Kathmandu, in the middle of Terrai, a flat fertile plain that borders India and stretches right across Southern Nepal. Chitlang is rural, about 2 hours drive from Kathmandu and accessed through tough terrain. It is located in mid-hills along the Mahabharat range, to the south west of Kathmandu valley. Pokhara is located in mid-western Nepal and is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its amazing mountain views. Volunteers fly into Kathmandu, which is a 9 to 12 hour flight from most major airports in Australia.
The Nepal volunteer program begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.
Short Term Volunteering If you wish to experience a taste of volunteering in Nepal, you can register for a special 1-week program. You will spend the first two days of your week participating in orientation, gaining a cultural insight into Nepal and learning the local language of Nepali. This will be followed by 3 days visiting different volunteer placements to gain an understanding of what it is like to volunteer. During this time you will also get a guided tour to different cultural and natural monument sites in Nepal.
The Medical Elective project is well suited to medical and nursing students, who have the opportunity to experience first-hand the stark contrast between medical practice in the Western world and the realities of medicine in developing countries. Volunteers are either placed at a hospital in Kathmandu, Chitwan or Pokhara where they shadow fully qualified physicians and nurses. Whilst hospitals in Nepal are under resourced and equipment is basic, these institutions are bound by government regulations and cannot allow international volunteers to perform tasks independently. Typical tasks that short-term volunteers can assist with include; observing the operating room to become familiar with procedures in the surgery ward; working with children to move and exercise their limbs in the physical therapy department; examining burn wounds and changing patients’ dressings in the burns unit; participating in emergency room rounds; following the main emergency room physician; learning about family planning and immunizations; and helping mothers of new born babies. Experienced and longer-term volunteers (2+ months) will have more scope to assist with hands-on tasks, and may also have the option to experience work in a rural health clinic, where they will assist medical staff in performing day-to-day tasks in the more “off-the-beaten-track” communities of Nepal. Volunteers who are placed in a more rural location may also have the opportunity to take part in local community medical campaigns where they will assist in conducting seminars to motivate and educate local villagers on healthcare initiatives. Please note, there is a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks for this project and there is also a surcharge of US$50 per week to cover training and resources used. This will be included in the program fee quoted to you when you apply. Volunteers need to have completed at least 2 years training at medical school or nursing school and are required to present a copy of their qualifications and certificates to our local team during orientation in Nepal. Please ensure that you apply for the Medical Elective project at least 6 weeks before your chosen start date, to allow our local team the needed time to arrange a suitable placement.
Childcare – Kathmandu
Volunteers on our Childcare project in Kathmandu work in childcare centres in a number of placements located in different areas in Kathmandu. Some placements are more rural and on the hills surrounding Kathmandu, while others are more centrally located. The specific tasks of each volunteer vary depending on the childcare centre in which the volunteer is placed and the assistance required at the time of placement. The tasks involved on the childcare project ranges from caring for children, to teaching, assisting with homework and arranging activities, such as painting, singing, and sports activities. Within our Kathmandu placements there is scope to do construction/maintenance work around the placements and our local team are very supportive of these initiatives. There is also the opportunity to work within a special needs school in central Kathmandu, where volunteers are able to assist in the education and therapy treatments for children and young adults. If you are after a challenging and rewarding volunteering experience then our Kathmandu Childcare placements are for you.
The large majority of Nepali children do not have access to a good standard of education. This is due to the lack of financial and physical resources in Nepal, as well as the remote mountain geography of the country. Volunteers on the Teaching English project teach English in public or private schools in Nepal, depending on the need for volunteers at the time of placement. Volunteers on this project can also assist in creating low-cost teaching materials for the schools and help organize health checkups for students. Volunteers are also involved in organizing other school activities, such as sports or sanitation programs. It is important to be aware that volunteers may be required to teach other subjects during their time on the Teaching English project, including Maths, Science and Social Studies. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Childcare - Pokhara
Placements on our Childcare project in Pokhara are located in and around the small tourist city of Pokhara. As Pokhara is a very popular tourist destination the placements here have greatly benefited from our past volunteers, resulting in the majority of these placements being well-funded and well organized. Volunteers should expect to be focusing on sustaining these rejuvenated placements, rather than implementing and funding new initiatives. The Childcare project in Pokhara offers volunteers a platform to contribute their enthusiasm and creativity in order to brighten up the days of the children and advance their English language skills by engaging them in fun and educational activities. While these placements are reasonably well-funded, they often lack the structure that volunteers may be used to at home and volunteers are encouraged to arrive with their own initiatives and ideas of activities to arrange for the children. We encourage volunteers to not be afraid to get involved in the day-to-day running of these placements. The role of the volunteer is to act as an older sibling to the children and the specific tasks of each volunteer varies depending on the center in which the volunteer is placed and the assistance required at the time of placement. Examples of typical volunteer work can include teaching, assisting with tuition of general life skills and health education, organizing games and activities, and drawing and painting with the children. The Childcare project in Pokhara is perfect for first time volunteers or for those who have not worked within a Childcare center before.
Construction and Renovation
The communities of Nepal suffered a huge set-back in early 2015 when they were struck by a series of devastating earthquakes. Nepal has been in a good space to receive volunteers and tourists for some time now, however rebuilding has been slow and there is still a need for assistance in this area - especially within the education and healthcare sectors. Work is hands-on and changes depending on the specific project at the time. Volunteers on this project can expect to work 5 - 6 hours per day. Tasks can include, but are not limited to, building, renovating, painting, restoration, carpentry and landscaping. Volunteers will be working within schools, community learning centres, childcare centres and other educational facilities in the areas in and around Chitlang, Pokhara and Chitwan. This project is suitable for all volunteers who are interested in physical work and who are not afraid to get stuck in and get their hands dirty. Volunteers do not need prior construction or renovation experience to participate on this project, as they work alongside qualified local staff to complete the work. We recommend that volunteers on this project bring work boots and gloves; however, these can be purchased in Nepal if necessary. There is an extra cost of US$50 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Kathmandu on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kathmandu. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Nepal prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up at a prearranged destination in Kathmandu on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Nepal team in Kathmandu and runs over the course of 3 days. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Nepal – Introduction to Nepal, Nepalese Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Nepal, Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: While a volunteer daily schedule will vary depending on the specific placement, a typical day is as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast at the homestay.
8.00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. There is usually a tea break and a lunch break.
2.00 PM - 5.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house, go sight seeing, or do some shopping.
7.00 PM - 9.00 PM Dinner at the homestay.
On arrival in Nepal, volunteers are accommodated in a guesthouse in Kathmandu for the 3-day duration of orientation. Volunteers are then accommodated together in homestays and hosted by local families, who have been approved by our program staff. We give your host family a fee for your support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a host family, providing you with a unique opportunity to learn about the Nepalese way of life, meet local people, try local food and speak the local language. Please note, host families in Nepal speak limited English. Living is basic but comfortable and most homestays have electricity and running water, however some rural homestays do not have electricity or running water during the dry season. Squat toilets are the norm in Nepal and you will not come across many western toilets. Volunteers can also expect low-pressure showers that are generally not heated. You can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers and bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. It is recommended volunteers bring their own sleeping bag and mosquito nets for any trips away.
WiFi is available in the volunteer homestays, however those based in Chitwan should expect to walk to a nearby cafe for internet access. If you would like to keep connected during your stay, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Nepal.
The staple meal for most Nepali families is dal bhat, which consists of lentil soup (dal), rice (bhat) and vegetables in curry (tarkari) and/or meat (masu) with side of pickle/sauce (achar). Indian and Tibetan influenced dishes also very common in Nepal, including plenty of curries, breads and potato-based dishes. Volunteers are served two meals per day at their homestay and can purchase additional food to supplement this if they wish. Bottled water is readily available in Nepal and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 liters per day). If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
“The placement was fantastic and I’ve made a promise to myself and everyone at the Kathmandu orphanage that I will return as soon as I get the chance. The experience was unreal and the love and relationships I built in such a short space of time with the elders as well as the children was truly amazing. It was a completely humbling experience that children with absolutely nothing can have so much happiness in their lives regardless of the situation that they are in.” - Jitesh Mistry (Orphanage Work Volunteer in Nepal)
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local town and Nepal. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield and engage in tourist activities, such as trekking, jungle safaris and visits to temples.
See our Nepal Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Nepal!
Weather and climate: The climate in Nepal varies largely due to the variations in typography across the country. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons with dry weather and moderate temperatures. The Kathmandu Valley and other areas of high altitude experience summer temperatures of up to 28°C (82.4°F) and in winter, temperatures range between 2°C (35.6°F) and 20°C (68°F). The summer temperatures in Chitwan can reach up to 35°C (95°F) and in winter they range between 7°C (44.6°F) and a mild 23°C (73.4°F). The climate in Pokhara is similar to that of the Kathmandu Valley, with slightly warmer temperatures.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Nepal. Additional requirements apply for Medical Elective volunteers, please read the project descriptions below.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.