Horton Plains National Park
The Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, and is covered by wild montane grasslands and interspersed with patches of thick cloud forest, rocky outcrops, filigree waterfalls and misty lakes. The plains form an undulating plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft.) above sea level and has been said by many to resemble the African savannah. The plateau comes to a sudden drop at ‘World’s End’, a stunning escarpment that plunges 880 metres and is one of the more notable attractions of the Park. Horton Plains offers amazing hikes amongst the shadows of Sri Lanka’s second and third-highest mountains; Kirigalpotta (2,388m) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357m), each of which rear up from the edges of the plateau.
The recommended and most popular hike is a 7.2 kilometre loop that takes you past Baker’s Falls, a stunning 20 metre waterfall named after British explorer, Sir Samuel Baker, and is located on a tributary of the Belihul Oya (river) that flows through the Park; World’s End, where on a clear day the view is incredible; and Mini World’s End, a smaller 270 metre drop, which presents views of the south east of Sri Lanka. The entire round trip takes a leisurely 3 hours. If this sounds a little difficult, you can opt to start the loop from the other end, completing Mini World’s End and World’s End, before returning the same way you came (approx. 3 kilometres each way).
The Park is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. The surprising diversity of the landscape is matched by the wide variety of wildlife – Sambar Deer, Wild Boar, Sri Lankan Leopard (very elusive), Purple-faced Langur, Black-naped Hare, Slender Loris, Fishing cat, Eurasian Otter, Barking Deer to name a few – as well as many types of reptiles and butterflies. Birdwatchers will be well rewarded with over 90 bird species found in the Park. The Horton Plains National Park is as beautiful as it is eerie and offers a world that is oddly different from any other part of Sri Lanka. If you are a fan of nature, wildlife, birds, landscapes, or hikes, we cannot recommend this excursion highly enough!
Early morning is the best time to visit (from 6:00-10:00am). After 9:00am you will generally see a swirling white wall of mist from World’s End. There are no safety rails around World’s End and if you have young children with you, keep a very firm grip on them as you approach the cliff edge. Packed breakfasts can be arranged to enjoy on the way.