Browsing articles in "National Parks"

Sagarmatha National Park

Mount Everest (topgold)

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Sagarmatha National Park was created on July 19, 1976 and was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1979. Sagarmatha is a Sanskrit word, from sagar = “sky” and matha = “forehead” or “head”, and is the modern Nepali name for Mount Everest. The Sagarmatha National Park includes the highest point of the Earth’s surface, south side of Mount Everest or Sagarmatha. Several other well known peaks such as Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamerku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachyung Kang are also in this region. The park is also of major religious and cultural significance in Nepal as it abounds in holy places such as the Thyangboche and also is the homeland of the Sherpas whose way of life is unique, compared with other high-altitude dwellers.

The park encompasses the upper catchments 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.

The park covers an area of 1148 square kilometers in the Khumbu region of Nepal and ranges in elevation from 2,845 metres (9,334 ft) at Jorsalle to 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest. Barren land above 5,000 m (16,400 ft) comprises 69% of the park while 28% is grazing land and the remaining 3% is forested. Most of the park area is very rugged and steep, with its terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. Unlike other parks, this park can be divided into four climate zones because of the rising altitude. The climatic zones include a forested lower zone, a zone of alpine scrub, the upper alpine zone which includes upper limit of vegetation growth, and the Arctic zone where no plants can grow. The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude. Several rare species, such as the snow leopard and the lesser panda, are found in the park.

The park’s visitor centre is located at the top of a hill in Namche Bazaar, also where a company of the Nepal Army is stationed for protecting the park. The park’s southern entrance is a few hundred meters north of Monjo at 2,835 m (9,300 ft), a one day hike from Lukla.

The park is populated by approximately 3000 of the famed Sherpa people, originating from Tibet in the late 15th or early 16th century A.D. Their lives are interwoven with the teaching of Buddhism. The main settlements are Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyangboche, Pangboche and Phortse. There are also temporary settlements in the upper valleys where the Sherpas graze their livestock during the summer season.

How to Get There:
* Fly in and out of Lukla, followed by 15 days walk.
* Bus to Jiri and trek for 21 days, flying back to Kathmandu from Lukla.
* Fly in and out of Phaplu and trek for 16 days.
* Fly in to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu and a 10 day walk to the park.

Chitwan National Park

Elephas maximus indicus, in Chitwan National P...

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Chitwan National Park, the first national park of Nepal, was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It covers an area of 932 km2 and is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal in the Chitwan district wedged between two east-west river valleys at the base of the Siwalik range of the outer Himalayas. In altitude it ranges from about 100 metres (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 metres (2,674 ft) in the Churia Hills. It has a particularly rich flora and fauna. One of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros lives in the park, which is also one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger. In the north and west of the protected area the Narayani-Rapti river system forms a natural boundary to human settlements. Adjacent to the east of Chitwan National Park is Parsa Wildlife Reserve, contiguous in the south is the Indian Tiger Reserve Valmiki National Park.

Chitwan is dominated by almost monotypic stands of sal forest which occupy 60% of the total area and is a remnant of the lowland Terai forest which once stretched across the foothills of the Himalayas through India and Nepal. Riverine forest and grasslands form a mosaic along the river banks are maintained by seasonal flooding. On the hills are pines and scattered palms, and moister slopes support bamboos.

Chitwan is situated in a river valley basin or dun, along the flood plains of the Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers. The Narayani is also called the Gandaki and is the third-largest river in Nepal. It originates in the high Himalaya and, drains into the Bay of Bengal. The Siwaliks show a distinctive fault pattern that has produced steep cliffs on the south-facing slopes, where vegetation cover is poorer than the northern slopes. The flood plains comprise a series of ascending alluvial terraces laid down by the rivers and subsequently raised by Himalayan uplift. The terraces are composed of layers of boulders and gravels set in a fine silty matrix.

The climax vegetation of the Inner Terai is sal forest, which covers some 60% of the park. However, floods, fires and riverine erosion combine to make a continually changing mosaic of grasslands and riverine forests in various stages of succession. Purest stands of sal occur on better drained ground such as the lowlands around Kasra in the centre of the park. Elsewhere, sal is intermingled with chir pine along the southern face of the Churia Hills and with tree species. Creepers are common. The under-storey is scant with the exception of grasses.

The park contains the last Nepalese population (estimated at 400) of the endangered great one-horned Asian rhinoceros which is the second largest concentration of this species to occur after Kaziranga National Park in India. Royal Chitwan is also one of the last strongholds of the Royal Bengal tiger. Other threatened mammals occurring in the park include leopard, wild dog, sloth bear and gaur. Other mammals include sambar, chital, hog deer, barking deer, wild pig, monkeys, otter, porcupine, yellow-throated marten, civet, fishing cat, jungle cat, jackal, striped hyena and Indian fox. Aquatic species include the gangetic dolphin, the mugger crocodile and the endangered gharial.

The area is located in the central climatic zone of the Himalayas, where monsoon starts in mid June and eases off in late September. During these 14–15 weeks most of the 2,500 mm yearly precipitation falls – it is pouring with rain. After mid-October the monsoon clouds have retreated, humidity drops off, and the top daily temperature gradually subsides from ±36°C / 96.8 °F to ±18°C / 64.4 °F. Nights are cooling down to 5°C / 41.0 °F until late December, when it usually rains softly for a few days. Then temperatures are rising gradually.

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