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Shey Phoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo National Park
Nepal Travel Destination

Established in 1984, the Shey Phoksundo National Park is located in western Nepal with Kanjiroba as one of the prominent mountains in the northern border, the park sits astride the Dolpa and Mugu Districts. It is the largest national park in Nepal covering over 3500 square kilometers and has an elevation ranging from 2130 meters going as high as 6883 meters.

Less than five percent of the park is forested yet it preserves a unique trans Himalayan ecosystem rich in diversity of its flora and fauna. It provides a place to strive for over 285 species of flora. From the southern parts it is home to willow, oak, walnut, and poplar trees and in the higher parts of the park pine spruce, birch, and juniper. The arid stretches of the Himalayan mountains to the north and alpine areas barely have trees.

If you made the journey to travel here you would find some of the parks 29 species of butterflies including the Paralasa Nepalaica which is the highest flying butterfly in the world. Over six species of reptiles and more than 200 species of birds claim Shey Phoksundo as their home. Some of these feathered friends include the Tibetan partridge, wood snipe, chough, brown dipper, and the wood assentor.

Some animals that you might find in the park are the weasel, rhesus monkey, Himalayan tahr, and jackals. The vegetation and topography supports a satisfactory population of the blue sheep and in the higher elevations you might see a snow leopard or two.

Nearly 9000 people live in the villages throughout the park. The communities mostly rely on agriculture and salt trade caravans as well as trade with Tibet. The majority of the communities practice the Bon Buddhism which has ancient roots of Animism and Buddhism. When traveling through the park and their hometowns, you can find many religious sites and monasteries. The most famous monastery is the Shey Gompa which was established in the 11th century. The Thashung Gompa was built almost 900 years ago near the turquoise waters of Phoksundo Lake.

Phoksundo Lake is in the higher regions of Suligad and is the deepest of Nepal’s lakes. Travel to the park offers a pleasant treks as well as beautiful sightseeing opportunities. The outlet of the waterfall even forms Nepal’s highest waterfall. Another lake that you might want to travel to is the Ringmo.

The major rivers in the area include the Suligad and Jugdula which are the main contributers to the Thuli Bheri River and the Khung, Nmajung, and Panjang.

The best time to travel to the park is between April and November. There are a few different ways of getting to the park, the most common way being a flight from Napalgunj to the Juphal airstrip. From here it is a half a days walk to the entrance. If you prefer to do more trekking, you can fly to Jumla followed by a 10 day hike to the Phoksundo or Shey areas.

You can find park offices at Suligad, Toijem, Tingmo, Chhekpa and you can find a small visitors center in Palam which is the park headquarters.

There are some travel accommodations mostly in Dunai, Chhepka, Ringmo or Snagta offering some guest houses and food. There are some designated campsites with toilets and garbage tins throughout the park. If you are camping, the use of firewood is prohibited so being self sufficient with kerosene is a must.

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