The Everest region trek is located in the northeast side of Nepal. The most visited part of this region is Solukhumbu district that is home to the legendary Sherpas and the highest peak of the world, the Mt. Everest (8,848 meters). To the north of Solukhumbu is the Everest National Park; while to the east is the Makalu Barun National Park. The major ethnic groups that live in the Everest region trek are Sherpas, Rais, Tamangs, Brahmins, and Chhettris. You will also get a chance to see their way of life and get to enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people. A diverse range of wildlife and vegetation are seen in the region. Animals that can be sighted are a mountain goat, musk deer and barking deer and the different varieties of birds include Impeyan Pheasant (Danfe), ravens, crows, choughs and show pigeons. The best time to visit this place is during spring and autumn when the weather is perfect and the lush vegetation in addition to the incredible flowers that are blooming everywhere adds more charm to your trekking experience. The popular trekking areas are the Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Valley, Lukla, Pike Danda, Dudh Kunda, Salleri, Chiwong Circuit, Hindhu, Hongu valleys and Everest to Arun Valley. A very interesting landmark near Syangboche is the Khumjung School built by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1961.
The Everest region trek can be reached by air or on foot. The bus to Jiri, which is a ten-hour drive from Kathmandu, leaves from the new bus park in Kathmandu. The ride can be an interesting experience if you are an adventurous person who enjoys the changing scenery and the varied landscapes that pass by. If there is time constraint or you are not comfortable going on a bus, Jiri can be reached by air as well. By air, there are two options: the most convenient for Everest trek is to reach Lukla directly and many airlines operate daily flights from the capital. The second choice is arriving at the small airstrip at Syangboche (spelling mistake), which is located above Namche Bazaar. Despite this being an option, the high altitude makes it an impractical and unwise choice as an arrival destination for acclimatization reason.
The main ethnic group that visitors will come across in the Everest region is the Sherpas. This is their heartland and their influence is to be seen everywhere from their traditional dress to their distinctive houses and village monasteries. There are also minorities of various other groups, notably the Rais and Tamangs, in the lower hills and the ubiquitous Brahmin and Chhetri farmers in Everest region trek.
The flora and fauna that can be seen are quite diverse since the Everest region trek ranges in altitude from less than 200 meters above sea level at Jiri to the high peaks of the Himalayas that are over 8000 meters. Up to 4000 meters, you will find dense stands of forest including pine, oak, and the spectacular Rhododendrons, the national flower of Nepal. The latter is one more reason for you to make a trip to Nepal in the spring as you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the Rhododendrons that are in full bloom and covers the hills between 2000 and 3500 meters.
The crops under cultivation will depend on the season that you visit but expect to see wheat, barley, corn, and potatoes at some stage or the other. Domesticated animals range from cattle, buffalo, goats, and pigs to the all-purpose beast of the mountains: the Yaks.
There is a good chance of seeing wildlife, mostly birds including the national bird of Nepal-the Impeyan Pheasant or Danfe, which is quite common around Namche Bazaar. Other notable birds include the Ravens and crows of the middle hills and the choughs, which soar to seemingly impossible heights in the mountains. We also recommend you to be on the lookout for flocks of snow pigeons wheeling around the hillsides.
Land animals can be more elusive but you never know when you will get a chance to see the mountain goats (most commonly the Himalayan Thar) and if you are lucky, you will also get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the musk deer or barking deer in the Everest region trek.
The peak season of October/November and March/May are obviously the most popular time to visit this amazing countryside. During this time, the weather is mild and generally dry and thus, the walking condition is good for the trekkers. The spring season is good for wildflowers, particularly the rhododendrons, while the autumn season generally gives the best mountain views as the air, at this time, is crystal clear.
It is also possible to plan a trip during winter but the chances of snowfall are high and passes may be closed, particularly during late winter. Also during this time, many of the tea houses will be closed. The summer/monsoon period is generally unsuitable for trekking, as the trails are slippery, the leeches are abundant and the mountain views are unpredictable. However, this period can also be a rewarding time as the wildflowers will be at their best and there are fewer tourists on the trekking trails which makes the interaction with the locals much easier. All this is only possible if you are prepared to tolerate the drawbacks of this season.
Much has been said about the deteriorating environment of the Himalayas however, not much was done to preserve it. It is only recently that people have started to realize the importance of preserving and conserving the environment of the Himalayas which was possible due to the effort of many overseas expedition and organizations such as the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee and the Nepal Mountaineering Association. The education programs and clean-up campaigns have also assisted in saving the fragile environment to a certain extent.
It is a known fact that the environment of the high Himalayas is a very fragile eco-system that is easily put out of balance. The locals have lived here for generations in relative harmony with their surroundings, however; the recent influx of tourists to this region has added pressure on the indigenous population to supply more and more services in the name of tourism development. While the Everest National Park is somewhat protected from the worst of the ravages, the same cannot be said about the area immediately to the south where uncontrolled timber collection for fuel and building has led to a marked loss of timber cover. Certain initiatives within the National Park area such as the banning of bottled beer and soft drink’s bottles have resulted in a reduction in the amount of non-biodegradable (spelling mistake) rubbish being left behind. Particularly, the trekkers themselves can also do much more to assist in improving the environment of the region. The KEEP code of trekking conduct is a perfect example (see Conservation Codes and Environmental Guideline).
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