Hike The Tallest Mountain In The World At This Stunning National Park

For ardent trekkers and hopeful mountaineers, Nepal is the dream destination. Deep in the Himalayan mountain range lies Sagarmatha National Park, the world heritage site that surrounds Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world. Sagarmatha, the Nepalese name for the mountain, sits at a staggering 29,032 feet (5.5 miles), just under the standard cruising altitude for a commercial aircraft.

Record-breaking wonder aside, the surrounding area is a sight to behold, with snow-capped peaks in every direction, deep valleys, and vast glaciers that cling to the mountainsides — like Khumbu, the tallest glacier in the world. The remote wilderness is also home to several elusive species, like the snow leopard and red panda.

Many visitors are drawn to Sagarmatha to learn more about the ways of the Sherpa people, the inhabitants of the remote region for the last four centuries. The Sherpa culture is marked by a deep reverence for nature, which helps to preserve the national park in the face of increased tourism. Sherpas know the mountains so well that most visiting hikers won't dare scale the summits without one. If you think one trip up to Mount Everest is enough, how about 28? That's the record for Sherpa Kami Rita, who guides tourists and told Associated Press reporters, "I will continue to climb as long as my body allows."

The natural wonders of Sagarmatha National Park

Sagarmatha National Park is in the Solu-Khumbu region and covers 1,148 sq km. As expected, the terrain is rugged. With more visitors coming to the area, the park has been forced to upgrade existing structures — and the area's natural ecology has been negatively impacted as a result. Various agencies work with local Nepalese people — including village elders and head lamas — to preserve the park as much as possible. While Everest is the most famous mountain in the park, other towering peaks include Amadablam, Cho Oyu, and Nuptse. Notable monasteries such as Thame and Tengboche are also present. In addition to the snow leopard and red panda, the area is home to over 100 bird species, including the blood pheasant and the snow cock.

Scaling Mount Everest requires extensive training and preparation. At time of posting, only 4,000 people have managed to reach the top, and only 200 have done so without supplemental oxygen. If the mighty mountain is on your bucket list, expect to shell out $15,000 for the permit plus tens of thousands more for gear and a guide, as it can be fatal for inexperienced climbers. Then there's the time you'll need to take off work; it takes about two months to complete the expedition. For those willing to brave the massive physical and financial investment, the view from the top is otherworldly.