Horton Plains (World's End) national park, Sri Lanka´s highest plateau is an excellent excursion and a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and bird watching.
The grassy plains still host many other wild lives. Also within the park are the World´s End, a shear drop of 1000m offers a breathtaking view of the land below on clear days, Bakers Falls and and trails for hikers.
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya and 8 kilometres from Ohiya.
Horton Plains is located on the southern plateau of the central highlands of Sri Lanka.The peaks of Kirigalpoththa (2,389 metres) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357 metres), the second and the third highest of Sri Lanka, are situated to the west and north respectively.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe.
The vegetation of the park is classified into two distinctive groups, 2,000 hectares of wet patana (Sinhalese for “montane grasslands”) and 1,160 hectares of subtropical montane evergreen forests. Nearly 750 species of plants belonging to 20 families have been recorded from the park.The plains’ vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants.
The vertebrate fauna of the region includes 24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians. The Sri Lankan Elephant disappeared from the region in the 1940s at the latest. (One of the English hunters gave his name to a pretty waterfall in the park: Bakers Falls.) At present, the largest and the most commonly seen mammal is the Sambar Deer.
The park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. The birdlife, as is usual in Sri Lanka, is impressive and for birders a stop here is essential.
A 10km trail runs through the park which takes in a swim at Bakers Falls. The sheer precipice of World’s End as well as Little World’s End are among the tourist attractions of the park.
Visitors usually access Horton Plains from Nuwara Eliya or Haputale.
The best time to visit the park is in the early morning, as the mist tends to descend later.
Neither is easy and an early start is a must.