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Pre-race FAQ

Can I store stuff in Kathmandu?

Yes, the hotel has a secure store where you can leave things until your return on the 24th.

You baggage allowance on internal flights in limited to 5kg hand luggage, plus hold luggage of 20kg to Pokhara and 10kg to Jomsom.

Staff will travel overland on Saturday morning. Any items you want to send forward, please arrange with us by Friday evening.

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Can I pay in cash or travellers cheques?

Travellers’ cheques are no longer accepted in Nepal. Cash is welcome as for Mustang we have to pay for permits and flights in foreign currency. We will collect you from the airport in a car or Hiace van and take you directly to the hotel.

USD are preferred as that seems to be the currency of preference here, but EUR, GBP and other currencies are also fine.

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How will baggage be carried day to day?

We will have large strong 70 litre expedition kit bags which are very easy to load on to mules. Inside each bag will go two peoples’ kit. We will give you a simple fabric stuff bag to keep your carried possessions in, which will go into those bigger bags.

This will stop your own bag getting ripped or smelling of mule (unpleasant). It will also be lighter (for the flight) and faster to pack and load in the morning.

You can leave your own bag in Pokhara or Kathmandu. If you feel your bag is small and light and will easily go inside the kitbag, feel free to bring it.

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Can I get my Nepal visa on arrival?

Yes. Bring a pen, a passport photo, and convertible currency (AUD, HKD, USD, EUR, GBP, YEN etc). Their exchange rates are pretty ad hoc, and if you have USD then you’re paying no more and no less than you should be. A 15 day visa is US$25. A 30-day visa US$40. A 90-day visa US$100.

Download a visa form here to fill in before you fly. This will save you time on arrival.

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Can I bring anything from my country to Nepal?

Yes. Chocolate. And anything you’d like to share with the others.

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Who are the other participants?

2014 participant list is here.

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How much cash will I need while in Nepal?

As a guide, dal bhat costs between $1.50 and $2. A fancy pizza, $4-5, plus obligatory %10 service charge and often an additional 13% VAT. Beer is around $3 for a 650ml bottle (Watery Lhasa beer is cheap in Mustang). Taxis, usually between $2 for short trips, and maximum $5 for across town.

You can easily draw Nepali Rupees from ATMs in Nepal. The Standard Chartered ATMs at the Kathmandu Guest House and Lazimpat (not far from Manaslu Hotel) are reliable. You can withdrawn Rs 10,000 per time up to 4 times in succession (at least that recently used to be the case).

In Mustang you may want to have money to buy none-included items (beer, soft drinks, souvenirs). There are some nice souvenirs in Lo Manthang, but generally everything there or similar is also available in Kathmandu.

If you run short of rupees and wish to borrow from us until Kathmandu, that will be possible.

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Will I be collected from the airport?

Yes. Look out for someone holding this signboard in the crowd of taxi drivers as you exit. Exit outside to the left, it is less crowded, and look for the sign. The journey is about 15-20 to central Kathmandu. No need to pay or tip the driver!

Mustang_flag

 

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Do I need to bring a sleeping mat?

When we reach the villages of Yara and Tangge, accommodation is in short supply. Tangge especially. For this reason we are carrying tents with us. We’ll try to use as many local beds as possible, but, if you have a lightweight, compressible sleeping mat, bring it, and you will be more flexible.

You can also find a cheap but good foam sleeping mat in Kathmandu or Pokhara.

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Temperatures?

It should be pleasant, not cold. To be more precise, bring a light down jacket and thin hat, but it should only be late in the evening in Lo that you might need it. It will be warm to hot in the day.

Bring sunscreen and long sleeves, running tights to protect from the sun. The sun is strong. The wind can also be strong so a light windproof is a great thing to have.

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I arrive earlier than the 12th. What should I do?

Lot’s to do. Here’s what is recommended.

  • Swayambu (monkey temple) great very early in the morning.
  • Bodnath Stupa, Bouddha. Very nice towards the end of the day, 5pm.
  • Kathmandu and Patan Durbar squares.

For all of these, you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee varying from Rs 200 to something like Rs 750 unless you find the back or side entrance.

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What is the main hotel name?

The main hotel we use in Kathmandu is Hotel Manaslu which is in Lazimpat.

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When will the briefing be?

Some others arriving early and leaving earlier for Pokhara. Yet others are currently trekking and will meet us in Jomsom in the morning. We will finally be sitting as a full group in Kagbeni where we can talk through the stages and route, review the maps etc. Of course we can talk at anytime if you have questions.

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Staff tips?

It’s been a tradition in Nepal for many decades now to offer tips for the staff at the end of the trip. Though the staff are paid well for the industry, tips are certainly very much appreciated. We’ll say goodbye to them in Jomsom and pass the hat around. As a guide, about $25 or so works though you’re free to give more, or less.

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What food and snacks to bring?

A simple packed lunch is provided and you can bring a reasonable amount (so as not to be too heavy) of extras like bars, gels whatever you have. Biscuits, Snickers, Tsampa bars (in Lo Monthang) etc. can be bought en route but not everywhere? You can also order a supplementary lunch at the destination village at the end of the stage. Most runners will reach in early afternoon.

Note that any extra meals, soft drinks or beer beyond what we provide for you should be paid for separately.

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SIM card for phones.

Getting a Nepali SIM is easy and can take just 5 minutes and costs about US $1-3.  You can accept and send SMS from abroad for minimal cost. You just need an unlocked phone to put the SIM in. Ask your airport pickup guy to lend you Rp. 100! You can also buy easily in many shops in Kathmandu without a problem. NTC has better range in Mustang (but still limited) than Ncell. Ncell SIM cards also offer a data option and 3G is available but can work out quite expensive. Free Wifi is in almost every café in the city and some faster than others.

Sending and receiving SMSs (while in range) to countries overseas is very cheap.

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Diamox and altitude?

We’re bringing along with us a junior doctor with speciality training in high-altitude medicine. We will carry Diamox and make it available via Dr Rakesh as needed.

Our sleeping heights are as follows. There is a slightly bigger progression that desired between nights 2, 3 and 4, but then we sleep no higher than the 3,800m of Lo Manthang, and pass to higher altitudes during the days. In out experience, this itinerary should pose no problems for anybody beyond perhaps a mild headache.

  1. 2,810m
  2. 3,070m
  3. 3,500m
  4. 3,800m
  5. 3,800m
  6. 3,800m
  7. 3,200m…
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What is the risk of travel sickness on this trip in Nepal?

Wash hands frequently. Use hand sanitizer. These are two important messages!

Please read this article. It’s a bit graphic, but essential to read.

http://manaslucircuittrek.com/manaslu-trek-hygiene/

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What is the traffic like in Kathmandu?

Despite how it seems, the traffic is not that dangerous. It is fairly slow moving and ready for the unexpected, so always ready to stop.

Your own country probably has certain traffic rules and codes of behavior. They won’t work here there is no point expecting drivers to follow them. The only rule is people’s own self-interest: ‘I go first’. Because of that, politeness doesn’t work and is pointless. If a car stops for you, be careful of motorbikes passing on both sides of the car. They probably won’t stop.

So don’t expect people to wait for you to cross the road. Be bold, observe how the locals effortlessly do it. Tip: make eye contact with drivers, put your hand up so they know what you are intending, direct them, and keep moving.

Always keep to the side of the street when walking a long, and keep looking left & right, everywhere, all the time like a hammerhead shark.

And watch out for unattended holes.

Best of luck! Or take a taxi.

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How it the air quality in Kathmandu?

It’s bad. It’s worse on the main corridors and and where building work is going on, and reasonable in backstreets. But dusty, and you find many people wearing a face mask.

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How to travel with taxis?

Rather than walking in a cloud of pollution, it makes sense to use taxis. Every taxi should by law have a meter but few like to use it as the rate is fairly unprofitable. Always ask “Meter?” and watch the driver’s face.

 

From Lazimpat to Thamel should never be more than Rs 100 and they will ask Rs 200. Lazimpat to the far flung sites of the city (Patan, Swayambu (monkey temple) and Bouddha) should be under Rs 300 though the taxi driver will probably be hoping that you’ll pay him a lot more.

There is a free Android app to check the rate. Google “Taxi Fares Nepal” probably available for iPhone too.

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Risks of dogs or monkeys?

There are many monkeys at Swayambu aka “The Monkey Temple”. Be polite to them and don’t make too much eye contact. If they offer you a fight, politely decline as they will always win and they have more friends than you.

Dogs are different. For runners they often seem like a problem. There are two kinds of dog. Street dogs, and guard dogs. The guard dogs know their territory and bark to defend it – their food depends on it. Street dogs usually couldn’t care less and do it as a reflex.

If running, slow down to a walk and stop. Generally they like to chase you from behind, so you can turn towards then and, If you bend down to pick up a stone, even pretending, every dog will know what is coming and back off. Worst case, throw a real stone. I have also chased plenty of barking dogs back into their own houses. I’ve never has a problem in 5 years of running here with a street dog.

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Is it safe for women?

It’s pretty safe. Foreign women report feeling safe even walking at night though we still wouldn’t recommend walking alone. There have been reports of groping in Thamel (tourist area) though rare.

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Electricity?

Power cuts 

Kathmandu has a power problem (as well as a water problem). Keep your flashlight/torch with you after dark so you can see where you are when the lights suddenly go off unexpectedly.

Power / Electricity 

2 round pin plugs are used here. Adapters are available here for about half a dollar.

Recharging batteries is possible but the lodge owner may charge you for the service. Bring spare batteries. Accept that things could not work out and you might not be able to charge your battery – micro hydro plants can break down and leave villages in darkness.

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Any background reading on Mustang?

Worth checking out these blog posts from Roger Henke who is joining us on this trip. See if you can store offline.

Start at the bottom of the posts and work back upwards – then it will make more sense.

Roger Henke’s blog on the race Mustang.

 

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How will the course be marked?

We will use a temporary, bright-pink chalk powder road marking spray to mark junctions on the trail. We try to use as little as possible and aim to brush away all the marking afterwards to leave no trace.

We also give you a map and brief you on the route every day.

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Have another question now answered here?

Send a quick mail to info@mustangtrailrace.com

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