Situated about 20Km South of Nuwara Eliya, Horton plains is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (nature), National Park and a destination for nature lovers and nature researchers alike with its rich biodiversity and consist of ecosystems such as montane evergreen forests, grasslands, marshy lands and aquatic ecosystems. At an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, Horton Plains spreads across over 3,169 hectares of the highest tableland of the island.
It also holds an ecological importance of being Sri Lanka’s most important catchment area of almost all major rivers and containing most of the endemic plants and animals representative of the country’s wet and montane zones.
Discovered in 19th century and was named Horton Plains in honor of then Governor of Ceylon (1831-1837) Sir Robert Wilmot Horton in 1834. The park was declared a nature reserve in 1969 and eventually elevated to the status of a National Park in 1988.
Horton Plains is amongst the top of the list of Hill country trails, offering about 5 hiking trails starting from various points, including Kirigalpotha, the highest point in Horton Plains and the 2nd highest mountain also Thotupolakanda, 3rd highest mountains in Sri Lanka.
The Horton Plains plateau end at the World’s End, a stunning view point with a vertical plunge of 4000ft offering an unencumbered view of south towards the coast. There is about a 4km hike to the tip of the World’s End and is covered with mist in the mornings and known for sudden falls of mist and advised visiting in the afternoon.
All of the montane endemics species can be found here and herds of Sambar Deer are the most frequent site among the other mammals in the park such as, Strip-necked Mongoose, Long-tailed Giant Squirrel, Wild Boar, the endemic Bear Monkey and Toque Monkey, Fishing cat Leopards and Slender Loris.
A century ago, the park was rich with wild elephants, until the British colonialists hunted them down to extinction, making Horton plain the only National park with no elephants present in Sri Lanka.
Situated 20 kilometres south of Nuwara Eliya and 20 kilometres west of Haputale, you can reach the park from Bandarawela or Nuwara Eliya which is about 1 ½ drive.
If you take the train, the closest train station is the Ohiya, from there an uphill walk is required to the plains for about 3-4 hours.
Only accommodation found in the area are couple of lodges and campsites operated by the wildlife department, which require being reserved well-ahead.