Sagarmatha National Park - UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site of Nepal


In 1973, the creation of Sagarmatha National Park was officially announced at WWF's 3rd International Congress in Bonn, Germany. The park would conserve the Everest Ecosystem along with its endangered wildlife and rich Sherpa culture. Following this declaration, Sagarmatha National Park was established on 19 July 1976, covering an area of 1148 km2 in Solukhumbu district in Eastern Development Region of Nepal. In recognition of its superlative natural phenomenon and unique culture, the park was inscribed in World Heritage Site list in 1979. The Buffer Zone was declared on 1st January 2002 covering an area of 275 km2 including the settlements inside the park. In 23rd September 2007, Gokyo and associated lakes were designated as Wetlands of International Importance under Ramsar Convention. Sagarmatha is a Nepali word derived from सगर Sagar meaning "sky" and माथा matha meaning "head". Thus Sagarmatha means forehead of the sky. This majestically scenic mountain park of snow-covered peaks, gorges, and glaciers dominated by the highest mountain on Earth is geologically interesting and its wilderness values are outstanding. The Dudh Kosi valley is home to the unique culture of the Sherpas and is an ecological unit of biological, socio-economic and religious importance. Rare animals such as snow leopard and red panda live in the Park.

Physical Features

In the Himalayan Mountains on the border with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, the Park lies in the upper catchment of the Dudh Kosi river, about 140 km east of Kathmandu and is centred on 27o57’55”N by 86o54’47”E. The Park is bordered to the east by Makalu Barun National Park, Rolwaling valley of Gaurishankar Conservation Area to the west, Qomolangma National Nature Preserve to the north and Sagarmatha National Park Buffer Zone to the south.

The Park’s core area covers the upper headwaters of the Bhote Kosi, Dudh Kosi and Imja Khola rivers which fan out under the crest of the Himalaya Mountains on the Tibetan border and meet near the area’s main settlement, Namche Bazar. The buffer area reaches down the Dudh Kosi valley to Lukla 18 km south of Namche. Sagarmatha / Mt.Everest, the world’s highest mountain. The catchments are ringed by 25 or more peaks over 6,000m, and seven - Baruntse, Lhotse, Nuptse, Pumo Ri, Gyachung Kang, Cho-Oyu, and Nangpai Gosum - over 7,000m high. The rivers are fed by the long glaciers at the head of each valley: Nangpa Glacier on the Bhote Kosi, Ngozumpa Glacier on the Dudh Kosi, Khumbu Glacier on the Lobuje Khola and the Imja Glacier, one of eight which feed the Imja Khola under Sagarmatha. The Ngozumpa Glacier, 20 km long, is bordered on the west by the four Gokyo lakes impounded behind its lateral moraine. Dudh Kosi which drains eventually into the Ganges. Except for some alluvial and colluvial deposits at lower levels, the soils are skeletal.
The Park is enclosed by high mountain ranges and lies over extremely rugged terrain, deeply incised valleys and glaciers culminating in

All the glaciers show signs of retreat and several glacial lakes have formed in recent decades; one, Imja Dzo which started to form in the 1970s, is now 1,200 ha in area and 45m deep. The upper valleys are U-shaped but below about 3,000m the rivers cut steep ravines through the sedimentary rocks and underlying granites. Near Namche Bazar, they join the


In comparison to other parts of Nepal, the Park has a comparatively low number of mammals, probably due in part to the geologically recent origin of the range. Larger mammals include northern plains grey langur Semnopithecus entellus, jackal Canis aureus, grey wolf Canis lupus (but not seen since 1980), Himalayan black bear Ursus thibetanus (VU), red panda Ailurus fulgens (VU), yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula, Siberian weasel Mustela sibirica, snow leopard Panthera uncia (EN), masked palm civet Paguma larvata, sambar Rusa unicolor (VU), Himalayan musk deer Moschus leucogaster (EN), southern red muntjac Muntiacus muntjak, Sumatran serow Capricornis sumatraensis (VU), Himalayan tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus (300) and Himalayan Goral Naemorhedus goral (Jefferies and Clarborough,1986; Lovari,1990). Results from recent surveys suggest that populations of both tahr and musk deer have increased substantially since the Park was gazetted and has led to a recovery of the snow leopard population. Smaller mammals include web-footed water shrew Nectogale Elegans, Himalayan water shrew Chimarrogale himalayica, short-tailed mole Talpa micrura, woolly hare Lepus oiostolus, Bobak marmot Marmota Bobak, Royle's pika Ochotona roylei, rat Rattus sp. and house mouse Mus musculus (Garratt,1981). The Park is important for a number of high altitudes breeding species, such as blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus, robin accentor Prunella rubeculoides, white-throated redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps, grandala Grandala coelicolor and several rosefinches. The Park's small lakes, especially those at Gokyo, are staging points for migrants and at least 19 waterbird species have been recorded including ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca, and demoiselle crane Grus Virgo, also wood snipe Gallinago nemoricola (VU) (Inskipp, 1989; Scott, 1989). Bar-headed geese Anser indicus fly over the mountain, and the yellow-billed chough Pyrrhocorax graculus has been seen as high as the South Col (7,920m) (Hunt, 1953). A total of six amphibians and seven reptiles occur or probably occur in the park. Documentation of the invertebrate fauna is limited, though Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider has been found in crevices at 6,700 meters (Wanless, 1975), and 30 butterfly species have been seen, among them the orange and silver mountain hopper Carterocephalus Avanti, which is not recorded elsewhere in Nepal, and the rare red apollo Parnassius epaphus (Jefferies and Clarborough,1986).

Six vegetation zones as described for the Nepal Himalaya by Dobremez (1975) exist in the Park: lower subalpine, above 3,000m, with forests of blue pine Pinus wallichiana, east Himalayan fir Abies spectabilis and drooping juniper Juniperus recurva; upper subalpine above 3,600m, with birch rhododendron forest of Himalayan birch Betula utilis, Rhododendron campanulatum and R. campylocarpum; lower alpine, above the timberline at 3,800-4,000m, with scrub of Juniperus species, Rhododendron anthopogon and R. lepidotum; upper alpine, above 4,500m, with grassland and dwarf shrubs; and subnival zone with cushion plants from about 5,750-6,000m. Above these conditions are arctic. In the upper montane zone, the oak Quercus semecarpifolia used to be the dominant species but former stands of this species and Abies spectabilis have been colonized by pines. Rhododendron arboreum, R. triflorum, and Himalayan yew Taxus wallichiana are associated with pine at lower altitudes with the shrubs Pieris Formosa, Cotoneaster microphyllus and R. lepidotum. The vines Virginia creeper Parthenocissus himalayana and Clematis Montana are also common. Other low altitude trees include the maple Acer campbellii and whitebeam Sorbus cuspidata. Abies spectabilis occupies medium to good sites above 3,000m and forms stands with Rhododendron campanulatum or Betula utilis.

Towards the tree line, R. campanulatum is generally dominant. Black juniper Juniperus indica occurs above 4,000m, where conditions are drier, along with dwarf rhododendrons and cotoneasters, shrubby cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa var.rigida, Sikkim willow Salix sikkimensis, and Cassiope fastigiata. In association with these shrubs is a variety of herbs: Gentiana prolata, G. stellata, Leontopodium stracheyi, Codonopsis thalictrifolia, Thalictrum chelidonine, the lilies Lilium nepalense and Notholirion macrophyllum, Fritillaria cirrhosa and primroses, Primula denticulata, P. atrodentata, P. wollastonii and P. sikkimensis. The shrub layer diminishes as conditions cool, and above 5,000m R. nivale is the sole rhododendron. Other dwarf shrubs in the dry valley uplands include buckthorn Hippophae tibetana, horsetail Ephedra gerardiana, black juniper, and cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa. Associated herbs are gentians, Gentiana ornate and G. algida var.przewalskii, edelweiss Leontopodium jacotianum and Himalayan blue poppy Meconopsis horridula. Above this and up to the permanent snow line at about 5,750m, plant life is restricted to lichens, mosses, dwarf grasses, sedges and alpines such as Arenaria polytrichoides and Tanacetum gossypinum.


The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmatha National Park is also home to a number of rare mammal species, including musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, and red panda. Himalayan thars, langur monkeys, martens, and Himalayan wolves are also found in the park.

The temperature and available oxygen decrease with altitude. Therefore, the species living at high altitudes are adapted to living on less oxygen and cold temperatures. They have thick coats to retain body heat. Some of them have shortened limbs to prevent loss of body heat. Himalayan black bears go into hibernation in caves during the winter when there is no food available.

Tourism in Sagarmatha National Park

Tourism in the protected areas should not be limited to providing recreational opportunities for visitors and generating park revenue. It should be an effective means to raise awareness among visitors through nature education and maximize the benefit to the local communities in eliciting public support for conservation. Thus, the objective of tourism in the park should aim at enriching visitors’ experience as well as informing them on conservation needs and their anticipated role in protecting natural and cultural heritage for the future generation too.

Tourism in the Khumbu region was started during the 1950s with the opening of the area for foreigners in 1950.

Fact Sheet

Key Value
Location Northern mountain of eastern Nepal
National Park Establishment 19 July 1976 (04 Shrawan, 2033)
National Park Area 1,148 Square Kilometers
IUCN Category II
World Heritage Site Declaration 1979 (UNESCO)
Buffer Zone Declaration 01 January, 2002 (17 Poush, 2058)
Buffer Zone Area 275 Square Kilometers
Buffer Zone Households 1,619
Buffer Zone Population 7,745
Major Ethnic Group Sherpa
Major Religion Buddhism
Major Glaciers Khumbu, Imja, Ngozumpa and Nangpa
Ramsar Site Gokyo and the associated wetlands
Major Rivers DudhKoshi, Bhotekoshi and ImjaKhola
Major Peaks Sagarmatha (8,848 m), Lhotse (8,501 m), Cho Oyu (8,153 m) and Nuptse (7,896 m)
Bioclimatic Zone Lower Temperate, Upper Temperate, Sub-alpine, Alpine and Nival
Climate Temperate to Arctic
Main Mammals Snow Leopard, Musk Deer and Red Panda
Major Trees Pine, Hemlock, Fir, Juniper and Birch
Annual Visitors 45,112 in the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (Foreign Tourists Only)
Annual Revenue Rs. 16,39,56,605 (US $ Equivalent 1611340) in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019
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