Sagarmatha ( Everest ) National Park , Nepal

Nepal's breathtaking Everest National Park at an altitude of over 10000 feet is a nature lover and trekker's paradise.

Situated to the north-east of Kathmandu, in the glacial valleys of the Himalayas, is located the Sagarmatha National Park (Sagarmatha means ‘head of the sky' in the Nepali language) which is more popular to the outside world as the Everest National Park. It covers an area of 1148 square kilometers and was declared a National Park in 1976. Three years later, in 1979 it received the status of a World Heritage Site from UNESCO.

Terrain and Layout of the Everest National Park

The mountains of this region are comparatively young, formed approximately 65 million years ago during the Cenozoic period, the world's most recent geological era. The mountains are broken up by deep gorges and canyons which are interspersed with glacial valleys.

To the north of the Everest National Park lies the Greater Himalayas which forms part of the international boundary between Nepal and Tibet. Its southern boundary is marked by the Mongo and Dudh Kosi rivers. To the east the Everest National Park merges with the Makalu-Barun National Park.

Like the Royal Chitwan National Park, the Everest National Park is also essentially a riverine valley and drained by a number of mountainous rivers and streams including the Dudh Kosi, Bhote Kosi and Imjakhola.

A few great peaks in the area include Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Nuptse and of course the highest peak in the world -- Mount Everest (29,030 feet). The lowest elevation of the Sagarmatha National Park occurs at Jorsalle at 9345 feet.

Flora and fauna of the Everest National Park

There are mainly two types of forests in the Everest National Park: sub alpine forests at an altitude of 3000 to 4000 m and alpine grasslands above 4000 m. Trees like blue pine, hemlock spruce, silver fir and a few rhododendron species are found in the sub alpine forests.

Because of its high altitude the fauna of the Everest National Park are specially adapted and found nowhere else in the Indian subcontinent. In all, the Park is home to 34 species of mammals. Yaks, Himalayan Black Deer and Muntjac (Barking Dear) are common in the lower reaches whereas Red Panda, Musk Deer and Yellow Throated Marten are commonly seen at higher altitudes. One of the rarest and most graceful species found in the Everest National Park is the elusive Snow Leopard.

Of the 115 avian species the more common are Chukor Partridge, Monal Pheasant, Black and Orange Flycatcher and Satyr Tragopan.

Apart from wildlife, the Everest National Park provides shelter to over 3500 Sherpas in small villages at Namche Bazar, Thame, Phontse etc.

Approach to Everest National Park

Approach to the Everest National Park is not as convenient as the Royal Chitwan National Park and its visitors are mostly restricted to adventurous tourists or professional trekkers.

The most popular way to travel to and explore the Everest National Park is on foot. However, helicopter service is available from Lukla airport to Shyangboche airstrip which is a two-day trek away from the Park headquarters at Namche Bazar.

Owing to the challenging terrain it is advisable to hire experienced guides and porters from Kathmandu before tackling the steep, rugged slopes of the mighty Himalayas.

Image: Contemplate by  Evgeni Dinev

Reference: Natural Wonders of India and Nepal by Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, Buroshiva Dasgupta and Indira Bhattacharya

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