Shey Phoksundo National Park

 

 Shey Phoksundo National Park

 
Nestled in the rugged terrain of the Himalayas lies a pristine sanctuary, revered for its unparalleled natural beauty and cultural significance – Shey Phoksundo National Park. Spread across the remote Dolpa and Mugu districts of Nepal, this national park is a testament to the country’s rich biodiversity and unique landscapes. From turquoise lakes to snow-capped peaks, dense forests to traditional Tibetan villages, Shey Phoksundo offers an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Himalayas.

Shey Phoksundo National Park Basic Information

Location: Dolpa and Mugu districts in the Mid-Western Region of Nepal
Area: 3,555 km2
Latitude|Longitude: 29°21′29″N 82°50′44″E

Shey Phoksundo National Park Fee

Foreigners: INR 2,136
Free for children below 10 years

Paid at: DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu

 

A Natural Wonderland

At the heart of Shey Phoksundo National Park lies its crowning jewel – Phoksundo Lake. This breathtaking alpine lake, with its crystal-clear turquoise waters, reflects the surrounding snow-capped peaks in a mesmerizing display of natural beauty. Fed by the glaciers of the Kanjiroba Himalayan range, the lake is one of the deepest in Nepal, plunging to depths of over 650 feet.

Beyond Phoksundo Lake, the park boasts diverse ecosystems ranging from lush forests of pine, spruce, and juniper to arid alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers. The park is home to a wide array of wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, and more than 200 species of birds. Trekking through the park offers adventurers the chance to witness these creatures in their natural habitat and soak in the serenity of the Himalayan wilderness.

 

Shey Phoksundo National Park Weather

 

Since it is a trans-Himalayan region, the climatic range of the park varies from monsoon dominating to the arid climate. While in the southern region of the park, the precipitation reaches 1,500 mm, in northern slopes it is less than 500 mm. Winters in the park are harsh with snowfall occurring in the regions above 2,500 m. The temperature above 3,000 m in the park fall below freezing points. The best time to visit Shey Phoksundo National Park in Nepal is from April to November.

 

Things to do at Shey Phoksundo National Park

1. Phoksundo Lake Trek

The moment you reach the enticing lake in the lower Dolpo region you will understand why people are lured to this region. The aquamarine blue-green lake set in the enchanting backdrop of mountains is a visual treat to the eyes. The oligotrophic lake is considered sacred by the Buddhists monks and visited by 2,000 people every year. The deepest lake in Nepal, you will even find endangered species like musk deer and blue sheep grazing by the lake. Even on the way to the lake, you will be greeted by waterfalls and spectacular scenery.

Number of days: It depends upon the itinerary you follow. But it takes at least 11 days to reach the lake.
Difficulty level: Since there are no mountain passes, this teahouse trek is an easy level adventure for those who enjoy walking for long hours.

 

2. Shey Gompa Trek

Located in the Upper Dolpo region, Shey Gompa Trek is a doorway to heaven. The trek takes you to the desolate landscapes and isolated authentic mountain villages like Ringmo and Pungmi. The main attraction of the trek is the Shey Monastery located on the base of the Crystal Mountain. The whole place looks heavenly as if carved by the creators with utmost patience. Learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Nepali villagers. The Upper Gompa is a sacred area and has restricted access. You may have to pay an entrance fee.

Number of days: 20 days depending upon the itinerary
Difficulty level: The hike is strenuous and you will pass a number of high mountain passes making it a tad bit difficult for the novice and beginners. Also, the trek is long in terms of distance and duration.

You can also combine both the above treks to have a fulfilling experience in Shey Phoksundo National Park in Nepal. In case you are not interested in trekking, here is an exciting alternative for you.

 

3. Helicopter Ride Over The Park

Take a helicopter ride over the park to have an experience like never before. This will not only save your time and energy but will also provide you scenic vistas of the mountains and preserved region from above. There are a number of tour operators in Nepal that organize helicopter tours around the region.

Number of days: 1 day
Best time: All around the year
Helicopter ride cost: On request

 

Shey Phoksundo National Park Map

 

How to reach Shey Phoksundo National Park?

The only way to reach inside the park is through a trek. Jumla is the base camp from where the trek begins.

 

How to reach Jumla:

Take a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and then a connecting flight to Jumla. There are no direct flights between Kathmandu and Jumla.

The other simpler yet costly way is to take a helicopter ride. The nearest airstrip is in Juphal which is situated south of the park.

 

Cultural Riches

Shey Phoksundo National Park is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a repository of cultural heritage. The park is inhabited by ethnic communities such as the Dolpo and Tibetan people, whose traditions and way of life have remained largely unchanged for centuries. Trekking through the park, visitors have the opportunity to encounter these communities, explore their villages adorned with traditional Tibetan architecture, and learn about their customs and beliefs.

One of the most iconic cultural landmarks within the park is the Shey Gompa, a centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist monastery perched atop a hill overlooking the Phoksundo Valley. The monastery, with its intricate murals, prayer wheels, and ancient relics, offers a glimpse into the spiritual legacy of the region and serves as a pilgrimage site for devout Buddhists.

 

Trekking and Adventure

For adventure seekers, Shey Phoksundo National Park offers a range of trekking routes catering to all levels of experience. The most popular trek is the Upper Dolpo Trek, which takes trekkers through remote villages, high mountain passes, and stunning landscapes, culminating in the awe-inspiring beauty of Phoksundo Lake.

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Great Himalaya Trail passes through the park, offering an epic journey spanning the length of the Himalayas. This multi-week trek traverses some of the most remote and rugged terrain on Earth, providing unparalleled opportunities for exploration and discovery.

 

Conservation Efforts

Despite its remote location, Shey Phoksundo National Park faces threats from human activities such as poaching, illegal logging, and overgrazing. To safeguard the park’s fragile ecosystems and endangered wildlife, conservation efforts are underway, including community-based initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable tourism and livelihoods.

Local communities, conservation organizations, and government agencies are working together to raise awareness, enforce regulations, and implement conservation measures to ensure the long-term protection of Shey Phoksundo National Park and its invaluable natural and cultural heritage.

 

Conclusion

Shey Phoksundo National Park stands as a testament to Nepal’s extraordinary natural beauty and cultural diversity. From its pristine lakes and snow-capped peaks to its vibrant cultural heritage and remote wilderness, the park offers a truly immersive experience for adventurers and nature lovers alike. As we continue to strive for conservation and sustainable development, let us cherish and protect this wilderness gem for generations to come.

 

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