A beautiful, stark world with excellent hikes

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where visitors are allowed to explore freely. Excellent hiking territory with hikes in the shadows of Sri Lanka’s second- and third-highest mountains, Kirigalpotta (2395m) and Totapola (2357m).

A beautiful, stark world with excellent hikes

Horton Plains’ landscape and wildlife are varied. An undulating plateau over 2000m high, it is covered by wild grasslands and interspersed with patches of thick forest, rocky outcrops, waterfalls and misty lakes.

Birdwatchers will be well rewarded with the high number of bird species, 21 of them endemic to Sri Lanka, of which three, the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and Sri Lanka wood pigeon occur only in Horton plains.

The most commonly spotted mammal is Sambar Deer. Although there are many other mammal species found here, most are elusive. Toque macaques, purple-faced langurs, rusty-spotted cat, leopards, wild boars, mongoose and grizzled giant squirrels are all lurking around in the expanse, but tend to stay away from the main hike routes. Fishing cats and European otters visit the wetlands of the park to prey on aquatic animals.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bedewed Jewel of the Central Highlands

Situated in the central highlands, approximately 20 km south of Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains enjoy a wet montane climate. The cloud forests comprise of trees with gnarled and stunted growth not exceeding 15 meters in height.

The montane flora looks spectacular with their crowns appearing vividly in red, orange and purple colours.

Due to its high elevation, fog and cloud deposit a considerable amount of moisture on the land. Slow-moving streams, swamps, and waterfalls form important wetland habitats, and create headwaters for three major Sri Lankan rivers.

Experiences

One of the best treks is to World’s End, a stunning escarpment that plunges 880m. The complete hike from the entrance is around 10km, including the detour to Baker falls and takes about three hours. To enjoy the spectacular views requires an early start to beat the mist that often obscures the view after 9am, particularly during the rainy season of April-September.

From the Director's Travel Diary

Is it Wood Apple, or is it Marmite?

Our attentive host has packed us a nice breakfast, as we embark on an early morning trek to World's End. The hike is good, the views from World's End are as spectacular as we imagined. And now we are thirsty.

There are 6 small tetra packs of an alien fruit juice in our breakfast. The labelling is not in English, but we recognize the photo as a wood apple. The last time we saw a wood apple, we were in Kaziranga National Park in India, where the naturalist told us how the elephants relished this fruit. But after a sip each of the tepid wood apple juice, it dawns on us that perhaps the elephant is not a mammal with refined taste.

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Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)