Staying at The Garden
Namaste and thank you for your interest in visiting us at The Garden! We assume you have read about SansarNepal, and that you understand our philosophy and purpose. Here is some information you need to know about how we operate before applying to come and stay.
Skill-Sharing and Volunteering
As our main aim is to bring international visitors into contact with Nepali children and adults to share knowledge and skills, we would prefer to receive guests with this purpose for a minimum of one month if possible (in certain cases a 2 week stay may be possible) if the experience is to be meaningful on both sides.
If you would be interested in coming to The Garden as a volunteer, we need to know your experience, expertise, skills and interests, so that we can find a meaningful way for you to contribute. Your work may be partly based at the house, working with our resident children and other children and adults coming into the house as part of our outreach, and partly in an outside institution, according to your background and skills. This can be arranged based both on our needs and your preferences. We may ask for references before we extend an invitation.
We are happy to receive all ages, singles and couples, from 18 to 80 and beyond, providing you are easy going, flexible, kind, and willing to share your knowledge and skills with others. You may be planning a Gap year, a career break, looking for a retirement project, or simply want to spend your holiday doing something more meaningful than lying on a beach! We will do our best to match you up with people eager to learn and to collaborate, and put you to work on projects that you will enjoy, and where you can make a real difference.
You will be accommodated in a simple but comfortable room, with a shared or private bathroom according to availability. You may be asked to room share with another person of the same sex if necessary. If all our rooms are full, you may be accommodated in a nearby guest house or with a neighbouring family, and come to The Garden for meals etc. You will have the use of the guest kitchen and can prepare your own breakfast and lunch, or have breakfast with the children. Dinner is eaten each day with the family. You will be encouraged to help around the house, get involved in the lives of the children, and you will be treated as part of the family.
We are happy to receive visitors as paying guests for shorter periods of time, depending on room availability. The Garden is a wonderful place to relax and experience the real Nepal in a family setting. It is a great place for children, who will enjoy a freer and more natural way of living, make friends with local children, and experience a very different culture.
As a guest at The Garden, we invite you to stay with us for one or two weeks. You will have use of the kitchen and dinner can be eaten with the family, unless you prefer to eat out. We can also provide you with lunch on request, or you can prepare a packed lunch for yourself, unless you prefer to eat out in one of the many cafés and restaurants in Lakeside. You can relax in the garden, read or listen to music from our library, use our rooftop for yoga, learn Nepali, learn to cook Nepali food with our house mother or play with the kids. We can organise outings and day hikes off of the tourist trail for you, you can visit our kids’ schools and the villages they come from, and you can join in local events and festivals. You will have a very different experience of Nepal with us!
Skill Sharing / Volunteering
For a one month stay at the Garden, the cost is USD 450. This covers your accommodation at The Garden and basic meals (dal bhat, noodles etc.) with the family. If you prefer to prepare your own food for breakfast and lunch, you will have the use of our guest kitchen. It also covers transportation costs to your place of work, should it be outside The Garden. From February to April and October to November inclusive, Michelle or another Sansar team member will be at The Garden or nearby to provide orientation, coordinate your activities, or to take care of you in the case of emergency. The USD 450 is payable at least one month before your arrival date. Should you decide to leave before the planned date, or go away for a few nights in the middle of your stay, we cannot give refunds. Your room rental helps to cover our running costs and to fund our outreach programmes. We ask for your understanding in this. For an extra USD 40, we can arrange an airport pickup, provide you with a room in Kathmandu and your bus ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Many volunteer placement schemes charge large sums of money to set up placements for international volunteers in Nepal, yet the families and institutions involved unfortunately receive very little of this. Volunteering has become a big money-making business and for this reason, we prefer to refer to what we are offering as “skill sharing”. However, we do need funds to run our house and outreach projects, and we currently receive very little regular funding from outside. For this reason, we ask volunteers to support us by making a donation of some kind to our NGO. This may be by providing the items we need that can be purchased in your country before coming to Nepal, or it could be a cash donation, to buy items needed here in Nepal, which we will discuss with you as you plan your trip. Should the institution you plan to work with have a specific need, part of your donation might be used for this, but it is important to us that you see that your money has been used correctly, to benefit those who truly need it. We can also help you with ideas for fund raising.
For a minimum stay of 1 week, we charge a minimum of USD 115. If you are able to pay a little more as an additional donation to our NGO and home we would be extremely grateful.
Please note: if you are planning to visit The Garden in the off season (June, July, August, September, December or January), a month’s skill sharing may cost less: USD 360, or USD 90 for a one week house guest stay, if a Sansar team member is not currently in Nepal.
Things to be Aware of When Considering a Stay at the Garden
Although Nepal is undoubtedly an outstandingly beautiful and culturally fascinating country, travelling here does present the newcomer with certain challenges. It’s better to be aware of these before contemplating a trip.
- Due to so-called “load shedding”, there are long periods of time, especially in the winter months, when there is no electricity. Although we have a solar backup system at The Garden which provides at least one light per room, water may run out briefly until it can be pumped up to the tanks when the electricity returns. In winter, the sun isn’t always warm enough to heat up the water and you may find the shower is tepid. In this case, we boil a kettle.
- There is no central heating in Nepali homes, and The Garden is no exception. We do have electric heaters in the bedrooms as well as hot water bottles, and gas heaters for the living areas. However, it is a large house and can be quite cold in winter.
- The journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara is 7 hours by bus on uneven roads. However the tourist buses are safe and comfortable, and stop for breakfast and lunch, and the bathroom. The scenery is also beautiful and many visitors really enjoy the experience. The other option is a 35 minute flight in a small airplane. However, flights are considerably more expensive than the bus (USD 100 one way approx.) and do not take off unless the weather is clear at both ends.
- As Nepal is a mountainous country, it is important to have a reasonable level of fitness to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife, which usually involves a certain amount of walking on mountain trails, and going up and down uneven steps.
- Service in restaurants can be slow, as everything is freshly made from scratch.
- In the summer months especially, there can be quite a lot of insect life, including ants, cockroaches and mosquitoes, and it is humid with bouts of heavy rain. December and January can be quite cold and damp, although the temperature does not fall below freezing. If you prefer not to have to deal with the insect life, plan your trip for the spring and autumn. Having said this, each season is beautiful in its own way, and offers a different experience of Nepal.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have other questions. We look forward to welcoming you at The Garden!
The Garden Team