Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park lies to the North-East of Kathmandu Valley. It was gazetted in 1976. It covers an area of 1,148 sq. km of Himalayan ecological zone.
The park includes the upper catchment areas of the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi Rivers. The park is largely composed of the rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas ranging from 2,845 m at Monju to the top of the world, Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) at 8,8,48 m above sea level. Other peaks above 6,000m are Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam, and Pumori.
UNESCO listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979 for its unique nature, cultural and landscape facts.
The vegetation at the lower elevations is dominated by pine and hemlock forests. Above 3,500m, the forest is dominated with silver fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper trees. Various rhododendron show their brilliant colors in spring and monsoon. The tree line is at 4,500m, where birch gives way to juniper and rhododendron scrubs.
Large mammals commonly seen in the park are the Himalayan tahr and Musk deer. Others include the Himalayan Black Bear, Common Langur, Jackal, Weasels, Marten and the Himalayan Mouse hare (Pika).
The park provides habitat for over 118 species of birds. The most common ones are the Impeyan pheasant (Danphe), Blood pheasant, Redbilled chough, and Yellow-billed chough.
Within the park, glaciers of various sizes can be found at the head of the Khumbu Valley. The biggest ones are the Khumbu, Lhotse, Imja, Ngozumba, and Nangpa glaciers. Most Himalayn glaciers are 2-3 miles long and are in retreat.
About 3,500 Sherpa people reside in various settlements within the park. The Sherpa people originated in the eastern Tibetan Province of Kham. They left their original home in the late 1400s or early 1500s crossing over the Nangpa-La into Nepal. The Sherpa people follow the Nying-mapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The famous Tengboche and other monasteries are the common gathering place to celebrate religious festivals such as Dumje and Mani Rimdu.
The economy of the local Sherpa community has traditionally been agriculture, livestock herding, and trade with Tibet. Since the 1950s, mountaineering expeditions have attracted tourism in the region. The local economy is becoming increasingly dependent on tourism.
During the autumn months of October and November, the weather is pleasant but colder at night. During the winter months of December through February the weather is cold. Daytime temperatures do not exceed 5 degree Celsius. During spring season the days are warmer. From June to September monsoon rains make travel difficult.
How to get there
The most common ways to reach the park are:
– 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.
Valleys also provide spectacular views. There are some high passes worthwhile for crossing over, but not without a guide and proper equipment.
Namche Bazar to Kala Pathar
From | Destination | Hours
Namche Bazar > Tengboche > 5
Tengboche > Pangboche > 3
Pangbohe > Dingboche > 3
Dingboche > Lobuche > 5
Lobuche > Kalapathar > 6
Base camp > 8
Namche Bazar to Gokyo Peak
From | Destination | Hours
Namche Bazar > Khumjung/Khunde > 2
Khumjung/Khunde > Dole > 6
Dole > Macherma > 4
Macherma > Gokyo > 4
Gokyo > Gokyo Peak > 3
Gokyo Peak > Thaknak > 3
Thaknak > Phortse > 6
Phortso > Pangboche > 2
Pangboche > Park HQ > 8
Places of interest
Park Visitor Center is located at Mendalphu (park HQ). While staying at Namche Bazar, visit the Natural History and Cultural Heritage Museum.
Tengboche Gomba: The famous gomba located at Tengboche offers spectacular views of Mount Everest and other peaks. Mani Rimdu festival is held in May.
Thame Gomba: This is one of the important religious centers in the area. The famous Mani Rimdu festival is held in May.
Khumjung Gomba: In June the Dumje festival is performed here as well as at the monasteries of Namche and Pangboche.
Use of firewood is prohibited. Kerosene is available for purchase from depots at Syangboche, Dole and Pheriche. the purpose of the depots is to encourage private hotel/lodge owners to use kerosene as an alternative source of energy and help conserve the alpine vegetation.
High Altitude Sickness (HAS) can affect if elevation is gained too rapidly without proper acclimatization.
The symptoms of HAS are headache, difficulty in sleeping, breathlessness, dizziness, loss of appetite, nauseousness, and general fatigue. If someone develops signs of HAS, stop ascending immediately, if symptoms persist, the only proven cure is to descend to lower elevations. Doctors advise against ascending more than 400m each day once above 3,000m in elevation.
Medical advice could be sought from Kunde Hospital or Pheriche Aid Post. Radio communication with Kathmandu is available at this Post.
– An entry fee should be paid at the National Park’s ticket counter at Tri Devi Marga, Thamel, Kathmandu between 9:15 am – 4:00 pm before proceeding the journey.
– Camping inside the park should be made only at the designated areas.
– Purchase of wildlife trophies or religious artifacts are against the law and can cause heavy penalties.
– Travel within the park between sunset and sunrise is prohibited.
– Commercial filming requires permission from DNPWC with the payment.
– Beer bottles are strictly prohibited.
– Visitors should be self sufficient in fuel supply (kerosene). the use of firewood is strictly prohitibed.
– Flora and Fauna are fully protected and must not be disturbed.
– Rubbish must be packed out, buried or disposed of in designated areas.
– Carry out non biodegradable items such as plastic bags & bottles.
– Never take or purchase of cultural importance from shrines or homes along the trail.
– Mountain bike/motorbike are prohibited inside the park.