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Robert Moore

The world's highest living tribe

The Sherpa tribe of Nepal live at a higher altitude than any other people in the world, often above 4000m. Their home is in the Everest region of the Himalaya mountains.  

Tengboche is one of the most important monasteries in the Khumbu. It is situated in a dramatic location that offers a spectacular view of Mount Everest and other giant Himalayan peaks.

The Sherpas' skill as mountaineers has been well known since 1953. It was in this year that Sherpa Tenzing Norgay went with Edmund Hillary of New Zealand to the summit of Everest.

They were the first people in the world to climb the mountain, known as Sargamatha to the Sherpas, which is the highest in the world.

Sherpas came originally from Tibet, to the north of Nepal's Himalayan border. Their trade brought them south many years ago. Even today Tibetans come to the famous Saturday market in the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar.

The Sherpas are Buddhists in a Hindu land and in the large monasteries monks read scriptures and recite prayers throughout the year.

In the summer months farmers take their cattle, called yaks, to graze at heights of around 5000m. The melted spring snows reveal lush grass here. In the winter the farmers and their yaks retreat, as the snow advances, to lower altitudes. Although Dhal Bhaat - lentil rice - is the traditional Nepalese dish, rice grows poorly at high altitude so potatoes are the main crop. Sherpas also enjoy the strongly alcoholic drinks Chang and Raksi.

Tourists who wish to brave the three week trek into the region can only do so during spring and autumn. The rest of the year the trekking paths are closed. In summer monsoon rains flood the paths. In winter snow makes them impassable.

Before 1965, trekking was the only way to reach the Sherpas. Since then an airstrip at Lukla has provided an important gateway to the region. Tiny aircraft fly perilously close to the spectacular mountain scenery, giving passengers a frightening start to their visit.

Although some Sherpas have moved to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, those that have stayed are now
wealthy in a poor area of the world. Some have bought tea houses to provide cheap accommodation and refreshment for grateful trekkers. But despite the many tourists and their more modern comfortable lifestyle, the Sherpas retain a great sense of identity and tradition. They are a hospitable and loyal people in one of the wildest and most inhospitable places on earth.

Source: New English Digest


tribe: a social division of people (tribu)
: sensational (espectacular)
: summits (picos montañosos)
: ability (habilidad)
has been well known: has become famous (se hizo famosa, se popularizó)
summit: peak; top point of a mountain (cima)
to climb/climbed/climbed/climbing: to go up (escalar, subir)
border: boundary line (límite geográfico)
trade: commercial exchange (intercambio comercial)
monk: a male religious devoting himself to contemplation and prayer (monje)
: domesticated bovine animals (ganado)

yak: large long-haired wild ox of Tibet often domesticated (bueyes tibetanos)
to graze/grazed/grazed: to let animals feed in a field or pasture (pastorear)
lush: exuberant (exhuberante, abundante)
lentil rice: Eurasian annual herb grown for its flattened seeds (lentejas)
monsoon rains: seasonal rains in South Asia during summer due to winds (lluvias monzónicas)
airstrip: an airfield without normal airport facilities (pista de aterrizaje provisoria)
perilously: dangerously (peligrosamente
wealthy: rich (ricos
retain: keep (mantienen
despite: in spite of (a pesar de)




1.   What religion are the Sherpas?

2.  What is the English name for the mountain that the Sherpas call


3.  How can you reach the Sherpas?

4.  Name two foods popular with the Sherpas. 

5.  How long does it normally take to trek into the Sherpa region?  

6.  What is Sherpa Tenzing Norgay famous for?   

7.  Why are trekking paths closed in the summer?   

8.  Kathmandu is the capital of which country?