Sagarmatha National Park

Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park

Created a national park on 19 July 1976 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979. Sagarmatha National Park (27°45′-28°07’N, 86°28′-87°07’E) is a World Heritage Site which lies in the Solu-Khumbu District of the north-eastern region of Nepal. The park encompasses the upper catchment of the Dudh Kosi River system, which is fan-shaped and forms a distinct geographical unit enclosed on all sides by high mountain ranges. The northern boundary is defined by the main divide of the Great Himalayan Range, which follows the international border with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. In the south, the boundary extends almost as far as Monjo on the Dudh Kosi. The 63 settlements within the park are technically excluded as enclaves.

Physical Features
This is a dramatic area of high, geologically young mountains and glaciers. The deeply-incised valleys cut through sedimentary rocks and underlying granites to drain southwards into the Dudh Kosi and its tributaries, which form part of the Ganges River system. The upper catchments of these rivers are fed by glaciers at the head of four main valleys, Chhukhung, Khumbu, Gokyo Lakes and Nangpa La. Lakes occur in the upper reaches, notably in the Gokyo Valley, where a number are impounded by the lateral moraine of the Ngozumpa Glacier (at 20 kilometers (km) the longest glacier in the park). There are seven peaks over 7,000 m. The mountains have a granite core flanked by metamorphosed sediments and owe their dominating height to two consecutive phases of upthrust. The main uplift occurred during human history, some 500,000-800,000 years ago. Evidence indicates that the upliftis still continuing at a slower rate, but natural erosion processes counteract this to an unknown degree.

On average, 80% of the annual precipitation occurs in the monsoon season from June to September and the remainder of the year is fairly dry. Precipitation is low as the park is in the rain shadow of the Karyalung-Kangtega range to the south. Annual precipitation is 984 millimeters (mm) in Namche Bazar, 733 mm in Khumjung and 1043mm in Tengboche. The climate of Namche Bazar can be classified as humid and tropical, based on the seasonal occurrence of rains, range in annual precipitation, number of rainy days per year and the length of the dry season. The mean temperature of the coldest month, January, is -0.4°C. Some 56% of years experience a tropical regime (summer rain), 35% are bixeric (two dry periods) and 1% are trixeric (three dry periods) or irregular.

Cultural Heritage
The Sherpas are of great cultural interest, having originated from Salmo Gang in the eastern Tibetan province of Kham, some 2,000 km from their present homeland. They probably left their original home in the late 1400s or early 1500s, to escape political and military pressures, and later crossed the Nangpa La into Nepal in the early 1530s. They separated into two groups, some settling in Khumbu and others proceeding to Solu. The two clans (Minyagpa and Thimmi) remaining in Khumbu are divided into 12 subclans. The introduction of the potato to Khumbu in about 1850 revolutionized the economic life of the Sherpas. Until then, the high-altitude Sherpas had lived mainly on barley. Both the population and the growth of the monasteries took a dramatic upturn soon after that time. Another significant influence on Sherpa life has been mountaineering expeditions, which have been a feature of life in the Khumbu since the area was first opened to westerners in 1950. The Sherpas belong to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, which was founded by the revered Guru Rimpoche who was legendarily born of a lotus in the middle of a lake. It is to him that the ever-present prayers and mani wall inscriptions are addressed: “Om mani padme hum” – “hail to the jewel of the lotus.” There are several monasteries in the park, the most important being Tengpoche. However, on 19 January 1989 the main building and courtyard of Tengboche Monastery was burned to the ground. A Reconstruction Committee has been formed and it is planned to commence reconstruction work in 1990.

Local Human Population
There were an estimated 3,500 Sherpas residing in the park in 1997, mainly in the south and distributed among 63 settlements. However, there has not been an accurate census since the park was established. The traditional economy is subsistence agro-pastoralism, supplemented by barter trading with Tibet and the middle hills of Nepal. The main activities include potato and buckwheat cultivation, and raising yaks for wool, meat, manure and transport. Cattle and yaks are also hybridized locally for trading purposes. Cattle numbers remained constant at about 2,900 between 1957 and 1978 but the numbers of sheep and goats increased from very few to 641. Goats have since been removed from the park. There are also reports which indicate that the local economy has more recently become dependent upon tourism, with activities such as provision of guides, porters, lodges and trekking services providing employment.

Visitors and Visitor Facilities
The number of visitors has increased from about 1,400 in 1972/1973 to 7,492 in 1989. There is an airstrip at Lukla, south of the park boundary, which has a regular air service from Kathmandu, and is the most popular means of access to the park. Everest View Hotel and associated Shyangboche airstrip above Namche Bazar are the most sophisticated tourist facilities developed in the park but they do not account for a high proportion of visitor use. A national park lodge has been built at Tengpoche providing sleeping accommodation, with detached cooking and toilet facilities, as well as basic food and drinks. Other accommodation is available in ‘Sherpa hotels’ and some villagers take in guests. An imposing visitor center, providing information and interpretative services, has been constructed on the hill adjoining Namche Bazar. Further facilities, by way of park accommodation and campsites, are planned. A handbook has been produced for the park.

Creatures that can be witnessed in the wildlife tour of the park are following:

Endangered Animals : Endangered animals residing in this park are Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Wild Yak, Red Panda and Himalayan Black Bear.
Large Mammals : Big mammals commonly seen in the park are the Himalayan Tahr and Musk Deer.
Other Mammals : Other mammals include the Himalayan Black Bear, Jackal, Weasels, Marten, Common Langur and the Himalayan Mousehare (Pika).
Birds : The park is the residence of more than 118 species of birds. The most common ones are the Impeyan Pheasant (Danphe), Redbilled Chough, Blood pheasant and Yellow-billed Chough.

Pine and hemlock forests are found at the lower elevations of the park. Above 3500m, trees such as birch, rhododendron, silver fir and juniper trees can be seen. Rhododendron show luminous colours in spring and monsoon seasons. The tree line in the region is at 4500m. Birch gives way to juniper and rhododendron scrubs. The park landscape is cut by deep rivers and glaciers. It can be segregated into four climatic zones:

The Lower Forested Zone where Juniper, Birch, Blue Pines, Bamboo, Firs and Rhododendon grow.
The Upper Zone where plant life is limited to Lichens and Mosses.
The Artic Zone where plants stop to grow.

How to Reach Sagarmatha National Park.

  • Flight to Lukla followed by two days walk.
  • Bus to Jiri and 10 days walk.
  • Flight to Tumlingtar and 10 days walk.
  • Flight to Syangboche, the highest airstrip in the world.
  • Flight to Phaplu and 5 days walk.

New entrance fees for Everst Region:
The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has made following changes in permits fee for Makalu Barun National Park, Sagarmatha National Park, Langtang National Park, Rara National Park, Shey Phoksundo National Park and Khaptad National Park. The changes came into effect from Ashadh 4, 2069 BS.

National park entry fee per person per entry
Nepali National Free
SAARC Nationals RS 1,500 per person per entry
Other Foreign Nationals RS 3,000 per person per entry
Children below 10 years shall get free entry

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