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Nepal>> National Park >> Sheyphoksundo National park

Sheyphoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo is Nepal's largest national park and covers 3,555 sq. km. Sitting astride the Dolpa and Mugu districts of western Nepal, the park was established to protect the trans-Himalayan ecosystem found only in few areas of the Kingdom. The unique park includes the Kanjiroba Himal, with many peaks of over 6,000 meters, as well as the famous Shey Monastery, the Phoksundo Lake and the Langu Gorge.

The flora of the area include pine, walnut, willow, oak, poplar and cypress in the lower southern parts. In the higher reaches, pine, spruce, juniper and birch pre-dominate. The alpine areas are vegetated by berberries, wild rose and caragana. The and trans-Himalayan mountains and grassy alpine meadows to the north are almost devoid of trees but have caragana and dwarf juniper.

The wildlife of Shey Phoksundo include a good popula-tion of blue sheep and ghoral, musk deer, leopard, wild dog, wolf, marmot, weasel, mouse hare, rhesus and langur monkeys. The higher reaches and the haunt of the elusive snow leopard. The adjoining Tibetan region is home to such rare animals as the great Tibetan sheep, Tibetan wild ass, Tibetan gazelle and antelope, and wild yak. Bird species of the park include the Impeyan and cheer Pheasant, chough, raven, Tibetan snow cock, Tibetan twit, brown dipper, Himalayan griffon and lammergeier. The park is inhabited by people of Tibetan descent who follow the pre-Buddist Bon religion and some of the main villages are Ringmo, Pugmo, Salclang, Kugun, and Tatgaun. On the august full moon all Dolpa villagers converge on the Shey (Crystal) Mountain in a festival to walk around the holy peak three times in as many days.

FEATURES
Shey Phoksundo National Park provides a diversity of spectacular landscapes. Elevations in the Park range from 2,130m in Ankhe to 6,883m at the summit of Kanjiroba Himal. Much of the Park lies north of the Himalayan crest. Nepal’s deepest and second largest lake, Phoksundo Lake, lies in upper regions of Suligad. Near the lake’s outlet is the country’s highest waterfall. The major rivers in the Park are the Khung, Nmajung and Panjang, The Suligad and Jugdual Rivers, which are the major tributaries of the Thuli Bheri River; and the Langu River, which drains the high dolpo plateau to the east and flows westward.

Phoksundo Lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and the spectacular scenery clearly rank it with the most scenic mountain parks in the world. Ringmo village, a typical Tibetan village, is scenically nestled in the area. Many beautiful glaciers can be found near and above the lake area. The Park contains many Gompas (Monasteries) and religious area. The most famous, Shey Gompa was established in the 11th Century. Thashung Gompa located near Phoksundo Lake was built about 900 years ago to conserve wildlife.

CLIMATE
As a result of its spanning both the northern and southern aspects of the Himalayan crest, the Park experiences a wide climatic range. Most of the precipitation in the area occurs during the monsoon (July-September), although the Dhaulagari and Kanjiroba Ranges forms a massive barrier preventing most of the rain from reaching the Trans-Himalayan area. The park contains the transition from a monsoon dominated climate with 1500 mm.of annual precipitation in the south (Suligad) to an arid climate with less than 500 mm. a year in the northern slopes. Winters are quite severe, with frequent snowfalls above 2,500m. and temperature’s remaining below freezing above 3,000m. through much of the winter.

FAUNA
The Park provides important habitat for endangered species including the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer, and blue sheep, goral, great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan tahr, leopard, jackal, and Himalayan black bear are also found in the park. The park is home to six species of reptiles and 29 species of butterfly, including the highest flying butterfly in the world, Paralasa nepalaica. The park provides habitat for over 200 species of birds, among which include Tibetan partridge, wood snipe, white-throated tit, wood accentor, and crimson-eared rose finch.

FLORA
The flora found within the Park is extremely diverse. The northern regions contain barren areas of the upper Himalayas and the Trans-Himalayan slope lands consisting of some rhododendron, caragana shrubs, Salix, Juniper, white Himalayan birch, and the occasional silver fir dominate the high meadows of the inner Himalayas. Less than five percent of the park is forested, with much of it lying in the southern portion. The Suligad Valley’s flora consists of blue pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar, silver fir, poplar, rhododendron, and bamboo. The Park also contains 286 species of ethno botanical importance.

CULTURE
The Park is home to more than 9,000 people and their villages among the highest settlements on Earth. Most of the inhabitants practice Bon Buddhism, an ancient religion with roots in Animism and Buddhism. The Bon-po religion, which forms the entire cultural base for Tibetan Buddhism, was founded 18,000 years ago, during the Zhang Zung Empire of today's western Tibet. The landscape is dotted with sacred monasteries, thangka paintings, and chortens. The local community is heavily dependent on trade with Tibet and agriculture. This area is also famous for its salt trade caravans.

TREKKING
Individual trekking is permitted to trek to Ringmo or Phoksundo Lake. The Tran-Himalayan region of inner Dolpa is restricted to group trekking only. A group trekking permit is needed and can be arranged through any recognized trekking agency of Nepal.

FACILITIES
Local accommodations are available in Dunai, Sangta, Chhepka, and Ringmo. Campsites with rubbish pits, toilets, and shelters are available throughout the park. Trekking lodges are located in Dunai, Chhepka, and Ringmo and provide food and limited supplies. Park offices are located at Suligad, Chhepka, Palam Ringmo, and Toijem. At the headquarters in Palam there is a small visitor center.

HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to reach the Park is by air from Nepalgunj to the Juphal airstrip in Dolpa followed by a half day walk to the park entrance at Suligad.

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