Sagarmatha National Park is located to the northeast of Kathmandu in Nepal. The park is largely composed of rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas and includes the highest peak in the world, Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest), as well as, several other well known peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachung Kang. Sagarmatha National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Himalayas were formed by the collision of the Indian sub-continent with Eurasia, which began about 50 million years ago and continues today. The oceanic crust in front of India slid under Eurasia, pushing up the Tibetan plateau. The Indian continental crust is also pushing under Tibet, but is partly compressed and thrust upward to form the Himalayan mountain range, extending for over 2400 km and rising as high as 8848 m at Mt. Everest. According to this continental-drift theory, the Himalaya were uplifted at the end of the Mesozoic Era, some 60 millions years ago. The resulting young mountains of this region are still rising and the net growth is a few centimeters per century.
The mountains of Sagarmatha National Park are geologically young and broken up by deep gorges and-glacial valleys. Vegetation includes pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron woods, scrub and alpine plant communities, and bare rock and snow. The famed bloom of rhododendrons occurs during spring (April and May) although other flora is most colorful during. the monsoon season (June to August).
Vegetation in the park varies from pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron woods at mid-elevations, scrub and alpine plant communities higher up and bare rock and snow above tree line. The famed bloom of rhododendrons occurs during the spring (April and May) although much of the. flora is most colorful during the monsoon season (June to August). .
The vegetation found at the lower altitude of the park include 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 (Hemitragus jemlahicus), weasel, jackal, langur monkey, marten, Himalayan Pika (Ochotona himalayana) and nearly 120 species of bird including the Impeyan pheasant, snow cock, blood pheasant, cheer pheasant, jungle crow, red billed and yellow billed coughs, snow pigeon, Himalayan griffon, lammergier, snow partridge, and skylark.
Government of Nepal has declared a buffer zone in and around the park in 2002 with the objective of reducing biotic pressure in the slow growing vegetation. The government has also made a provision of plowing back 30 – 50 percent the revenue earned by the park to community development activities in the buffers zone. In collaboration with local people it aims to conserve biodiversity in the region. Popular Trekking Routes 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.
The park is populated by approximately 3,000 of the famed Sherpa people whose lives are interwoven with the : teachings of Buddhism. The main settlements are Namche Bazar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyangboche, Pangboche and Phortse. The economy of the Khumbu Sherpa community has traditionally been heavily based on trade and livestock herding. But with the coming of international mountaineering expeditions since 1950 and the influx of foreign trekkers, the Sherpa economy today is becoming increasingly dependent on tourism.
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