Frequently Asked Questions
Who can join the program?
People of all ages and backgrounds can join our Hands on Development programs. In the past we have had students from universities, school group leaders, young and experienced professionals as well as retirees.
Because our groups are a mix of people from a wide range of backgrounds, participants get the opportunity to learn from their fellow tour members as well as the locals they meet.
How do I apply for the program?
There is an “Apply Now” button on the home page which leads to the online application. Alternatively, click on this link.
Can I complete the application offline?
Why are there only 4 tours a year?
We run tours at times of the year that most people have holidays so they fit in with most peoples’ schedules. However, if you have a group of 12 or more people, we can organise one of our tours for your group at any time of the year.
Why does the tour limit the number of participant?
We have found that a group of 15-20 people is the ideal size, ensuring that maximum value is given to each participant as well as the local communities we visit.
Is there any chance that my application to participate in the tour will be rejected?
Rarely is someone discouraged from coming on one of our tours if they are interested and capable to travel as a tour group member. However we do interview all applicants. This is because it is important that the applicant is a good fit for both the tour activities and tour group dynamics and we want to ensure that each participant will enjoy all the tour has to offer.
Will I be assisted with organising my flights and travel arrangements prior to meeting the guides at the start of the tour, i.e. tickets, visa, travel insurance?
Yes, there is an option to have Hands on Development assist you in the process. There is an assistance fee of $100. Participants may also book their own flights to and from Nepal.
Visas and travel insurance are the responsibility of the tour participants. Visas can be bought in Nepal upon arrival but in groups it is always better to have arranged your visa in Melbourne before hand. The address of the Nepali Consulate in Melbourne is 28-32 Elizabeth St, Melbourne. Normally they ask for 2 passport size photos for the visa. It will be a three month visa and will cost around $80 - $100 dollars. You will be able to collect it on the spot.
I can only make it to a part of the program, am I still eligible?
We prefer all participants to be present from start to finish of the tour. The tour has been carefully designed so that over the first few days we introduce participants to the culture, religion and political situation of Nepal and then delve into deeper social issues as the tour continues. There is a risk of missing this introduction to place or feeling like the tour is ending too early if you are unable to participate in the whole tour.
Which tour itinerary would be my perfect match?
If you are interested in gaining an in-depth experience that will connect you with locals, inspire you and allow your personal contributions to the local economy and peoples, the 10 day cultural your is the one for you. It gives you a great understanding of Nepal, introduces you to Nepalis of all walks of life and allows for a lot of personal reflections.
If you are more of the adventure type but still interested in learning and meeting the locals in the environment you are in, the trek would be a good option.
What type of grassroots and local experiences I can expect?
Visiting community organisations led by inspiring individuals, in villages, in the city areas, visiting industry and corporates hearing about their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, seeing the impacts on environment and human development different organisations are having including seven women and sharing your skills with those we visit etc – teaching a class on a school visit, building the skills at the centre through sharing your skills with the women in one of the spare times on one of the days on tour.
In case of emergency, will there be a person in charge available?
Yes, there will be two guides with the group at all times and we have an extensive risk register, including a practiced emergency situation procedure and an international hospital close by.
I can’t speak the local language, is that alright?
You don’t need to have prior knowledge of the Nepali language. There will be a basic language lesson early in the tour led by Sandhya at the Seven Women centre. This gives participants the skills to engage in basic conversation with locals, but most Nepali people will also speak broken English so you will be able to understand them, and conversely they will be able to understand you.
What currency is used in Nepal?
Will I be able to exchange my currency in Nepal?
Yes, on the first afternoon after we arrive, we will take the group for a walk through the local market to a money changer to change AUD. There will also be ATMs available here if you have a money travel card. However if you have rupees in cash prior to arrival in Nepal, this is the easiest option. We recommend you have about $200(AUD), which should cover you for the duration of the tour (unless you are a big shopper!).
What is the weather like at Nepal and the program locations?
June - July is the warmest period in Nepal, where the temperature ranges between 20-35 degrees during the day and 20 degrees at night and in the early mornings. December - January is cooler and will only reach 15-20 degrees during the day as well as getting quite cold at night 5 degrees or lower. These are the expected climates for Kathmandu. Alpine regions are cooler.
How do I know if the destination provides a safe environment for me?
We work hard to ensure participants on our tours are always in a safe environment. The Nepali people are generous and kind and tour groups are rarely in danger. There are always two guides with extensive local knowledge with the tour group. Their responsibility includes ensure the safety of the tour group members and react appropriately in any time of emergency.
Will my mobile phone work at the destination?
Yes, it will work in wifi and most areas we visit.
Do I need vaccinations to come to Nepal? What vaccinations should I consider?
Each participant is advised to visit their travel doctor to get advice on this matter.
Costs and Payment
What are the costs of attending the tour? What is included and what is not?
How is the payment made? Will I be provided with an invoice or receipt?
Is there any special price for student or concession?
Can I make a deposit payment in booking the tour?
In what situations can I ask for a refund?
I am under 18 years old, can I still apply for the program?
We generally only have over 18 year olds on our tours but there are exceptions if a guardian is with you.
Do I have to be in Australia to be eligible?
No, we have had people from all around the world join our tours
I have never travelled overseas before, am I still eligible?
Yes, of course.
Do I need prior cultural experiences or special skills to be eligible?
No, this is a great way to experience a culture for the first time in a developing country
Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
Can I do a personal trip before or following the study tour?
Yes this is possible.
Can I travel with other participants who are not part of the study tour?
Yes this is possible before or after the tour. However your further travels will not be the responsibility of Hands on Development once you have left the tour.
What should I pack?
For June - July, summer clothes are ideal. However please do not bring skirts or shorts that are above knee-length – all pants need to be below the knee line. Singlet tops are also not appropriate.
For the cooler months of December - January, a rain coat, warm winter thermals and long pants are a must.
Runners are suitable to wear for the entire duration of the tours in both seasons. Comfortable sandals are also an option in June-July.
Do I need to bring my electronic devices such as mobile phone, tablets or laptop computer?
This is your choice. They will be safe to bring.
Is it appropriate to bring gifts for the children or local people at the destination?
We don’t encourage participants giving gifts to individuals they meet on the tours. Hands on Development makes sure everyone we visit are looked after in this respect. However goods that benefit the collective are something you can bring to give and would be much appreciated, for example school or sport equipment that can be used by all school children can be given to a school, or a sewing machine for the women at the Seven Women centre to use. Organisations will normally have a wish list of what they want so often money given to the management is what is really needed at the time.
How much money should I bring?
$200(AUD) should be fine or up to $600 if you are a shopper.