Sagarmatha National Park

Unique among natural heritage sites world-wide is the Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Thamserku and Kwangde. Located North-east of Kathmandu, Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in area and consists of the upper catchment areas of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Khola rivers. Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with deep gorges, glaciers and unnegotiable ice and rock faces. Locally known as the 'Khumbu', it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The Sherpas make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the community's economic mainstay. In 1979 the park was declared a World Heritage Site.

Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are a riot of colours with several species of rhododendon in bloom. Wildlife most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalaya tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.

FLORA AND FAUNA
The vegetation found at the lower altitude of the park includes pine and hemlock forests, while fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron, scrub and alpine plant communities are common at the higher altitude.

The Park is home to the red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan tahr, marten, Himalayan mouse hare (pika) and over 118 species of bird including the Impeyan pheasant, snow cock, blood pheasant, red billed cough etc.

BUFFER ZONE
His Majesty's Government of Nepal, in 2002 declared the Buffer Zone in and around the Park with the objective of reducing the biotic pressure in the fragile ecosystem. The government has also made a provision of ploughing back 30 - 50 percent of the revenue earned by the Park to community development activities in the Buffer Zone.

POPULAR TREKKING ROUTE
The trek from Namche to Kala Pathar is very popular. The Gokyo Lake and Chukung valleys also provide spectacular views. The Thame Valley is popular for Sherpa culture while Phortse is famous for wildlife viewing. There are some high passes worth crossing over. However, the trekkers must have a guide and proper equipment for the trek.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
High altitude sickness can affect if elevation is gained too rapidly and without proper acclimatization. The symptoms are - headache, difficulty in sleeping, breathlessness, loss of appetite and general fatigue. If someone develops the symptoms, stop ascending immediately; if symptoms persist, the only proven cure is to descend to lower elevations.

Medical advice could be sought from Kunde Hospital or Pheriche Health Post. Telephones services are available at local Namche Bazar. In case of emergency, helicopters services can also be availed upon request.

HOW TO GET THERE

The most common ways to reach the Park from Kathmandu are :

  • Flight to Lukla and two day's walk
  • Bus to Jiri and 10 day's walk
  • Flight to Tumlingtar and 10 day's walk
  • Flight to Phaplu and 5 day's walk
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