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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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