Loved by local and foreign travelers equally, Horton Plains, Sri Lanka, is one of the most unique places in the country that you must visit. There are many reasons to fall in love with this place while collecting so many memories to take back home.
Recorded as the windiest place in Sri Lanka, Horton Plains (හෝර්ටන්තැන්න) is renowned for its breathtaking views and diverse ecosystems. It is located on the southern plateau of the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Horton Plains is quite often loved by nature lovers and anyone who needs to escape from an urban atmosphere. The plateau suddenly ends with the World’s End, which is a significant spot here.
So, let’s go and check out why Horton Plains is distinctively worth visiting!
What is Horton Plains, and Where is it Located?
Tucked away in the beautiful central highlands of Sri Lanka, Horton Plains is one of the most valuable locations in the country. Horton Plains is also known as the Horton Plains National Park, which happened to be called “Maha Eliya” in ancient days.
It belongs to the Central Province of Sri Lanka, and the nearest cities are Nuwara Eliya and Ohiya. Horton Plains spans 3000 hectares of land, lying about 12 miles south of Nuwara Eliya and 12 miles west of Haputale.
Horton Plain is extended over two of the highest mountains in the country- Kirigalpotta and Thotupola Kanda. Located at 7000 feet above sea level, it has a rich biodiversity with montane grassland and cloud forest. The most unique thing about this place is that it is the only national park in Sri Lanka where visitors are allowed to stroll on their own along the designated tracks.
Each year hundreds and thousands of travelers gather on Horton Plains to enjoy its rare beauty and make it an excellent opportunity to indulge in nature and get away from their hectic lifestyles. Owing to the large variety of endemic flora and fauna species, Horton Plains owned the prestige of being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2010.
A Splash From The Good Olden Days Of The Horton Plains…
Horton Plains, which became famous in history as the “Great Plains” of the Central Highlands, was discovered by the British planter Thomas Farr in the nineteenth century. Before he found this place, Horton Plains was believed to possess an essential part of the country’s cultural history, where stone tools from the prehistoric Balangoda culture have been found.
However, after Thomas Farr found this place, it was named its current title after the name of the Governor of Ceylon, Robert Wimort Horton, who ruled from 1831 to 1837. It was then declared a nature reserve in 1969, while the reserve was upgraded to a national park in 1988.
How Can You Get To Horton Plains?
Reaching Horton Plains depends on your current location in the country. However, as usual, you can use a few ways to get to this destination: public transport, private vehicles, and air.
Most travelers believe (we also suggest) going to the Horton Plains by train could be one of the best train rides in your life. You will be dropped off at the Ohiya railway station, and you’ll be able to enjoy an unforgettable train ride with scenic views throughout the journey.
You can take a tuk-tuk or a rented vehicle from Ohiya station to reach your destination. Traveling by private vehicle will be more convenient but can be higher on your budget. If not, you can take a domestic flight to Nuwara Eliya and then take a private vehicle from there to Horton Plains.
What Kind Of Experience Can You Get In Horton Plains?
We would like to begin by saying that there could be nothing better than the Horton Plains for nature enthusiasts to enjoy mother nature and experience the charm of Sri Lanka! As mentioned earlier, this is the one and only National Park in Sri Lanka where you can walk through at your own pace along your trails.
This reserve is wealthy in biodiversity, where you’ll find some cascading waterfalls, gleaming water bodies, rare and endemic florals, majestic mountains, breathtaking nature trails, and enchanting wildlife. Hike-lovers can climb the country’s second-tallest mountain, Kirigalpoththa, from here.
The deeper you go, you’ll find yourself lost in a dreamy environment surrounded by thick layers of mist and a numbing-cold breeze. The trail to Kirigalpoththa generates dazzling vistas of the hilly plains with mystical stands of cloud forest with Keena trees that look like umbrellas wrapped with mist.
The other trails are framed by several significant attractions in the plains, such as Baker’s Falls, which is one sensation seen often by locals and tourists.
Wildlife and Birdwatching
The park boasts more than 100 species of wild animals providing a home to Sambar deer, otters, Sri Lankan leopards, purple-faced langurs, wild boars, etc. You’ll be able to capture some of them with your camera lens if you’re lucky enough!
This national park is also a paradise for excited bird watchers. You can bring down a pair of binoculars to spot vibrant birds such as wood pigeons, Spot-winged Thrush, Sri Lanka’s bush warblers, jungle fowls, and many other migratory, resident, and endemic bird species.
The Exquisite Florals
Did you know that Horton Plains contains five percent of the plant varieties endemic to the country? This makes another special reason why it attracts so many visitors each year. Horton Plains is undoubtedly worth visiting to witness its rich flora and biodiversity.
You can capture the beauty of the forest canopy growing to around 20 meters and conquered by the across-the-board Keena. Tree ferns known as “Maha Meewana” dot the wilderness openings.
At the same time, Binara and Nelu, which are endemic to this park and known for their flashy blossoms, will steal your heart for a second. Wildlife photographers will be stunned by the clicks of Bovitiya, another incredibly gorgeous flower in this region!
Take The Adventurous Trail To The World’s End
World’s End (ලෝකාන්තය) is the top attraction in Horton Plain that you shouldn’t miss out on. The Horton Plains plateau suddenly ends at this point, making an impressive ridge that descends about 800m. You will have to walk about an hour from the park’s entrance to reach this place.
The wind is surprisingly gushing and strong here. You can get a 360-degree panoramic view of the little villages, mountain ranges, tea plantations, and rich vegetation, along with an unmistakable vista to the south towards the coast.
Refresh With Your Friends and Family At The Farr Inn
Farr Inn is located right next to the car park, where you will start your stroll to World’s End. This was a hunting lodge used by high-ranking British colonial officers.
Now, the construction has been renovated and reformed into a quaint yet elegant cafe where you can unwind leisurely with your friends and family before starting the visit.
You can enjoy a cozy cup of coffee, or a rejuvenating cup of Ceylon tea, with some delicious snacks at this cafe. There’s a small souvenir shop attached to Farr Inn where you can find books about the whereabouts and history of Horton Plains.
Camping At Horton Plains
Horton Plains makes the perfect camping site for whoever wants to spend a dreamy night under the stars. However, there’s a strict procedure if you need to arrange camping at this site.
For this, you will have to get permission from the relevant Sri Lankan government authorities, inform them of how long you will be camping, get the location, and then follow their guidelines. Nevertheless, camping in Horton Plains will be a truly magical experience you’ll get as a rare chance in your life!
What is the Best Time To Visit Horton Plains?
Horton Plains is open for visitors year-round. But the ideal time to hit this place would be the drier months of the year. Accordingly, plan your trip during January, February, or March to have the best experience with less rainfall and clear views.
Things You Need To Know About Safety And Security At Horton Plains
Generally, Horton Plains is another safe destination in Sri Lanka to travel with your friends and family. However, you should remember that you will have to walk long distances here and be ready for hikes in many possible places.
Therefore, you might have to take precautions about your health, and the visit is not encouraged if you have kids below 12 years and if you’re pregnant. Taking polythene and plastic inside the park is strictly prohibited, and you should use the washroom at the entrance if needed, as you will not get this facility inside the park.
Most importantly, you should be cautious about your safety when reaching the cliffs and edges for photos. Some dangerous situations have been reported in this area, like people falling off the cliffs, so you should be very careful not to reach the ends. Here are some more tips to consider when visiting the Horton Plains:
- Carry enough water and food in a backpack, as you’ll not find any food stalls inside the park.
- Wear comfortable clothing, strong shoes, sunglasses, hats/ caps, etc.
- Pack an umbrella, a raincoat, and boots if possible because the weather in Horton Plains is simply unpredictable.
- Carry a pain-relieving balm/ spray, mosquito repellent, and other essential medication you think is essential.
- Travel with a tour guide, especially if you wish to hike the mountains. Knowing the area is essential since there’s a higher probability you could get lost in the wilderness.
- Be on your best behavior and talk softly not to disturb the wildlife.
- Cameras, drones, phones, and other digital equipment should be carried at your own risk.
- If you go with a group, stick to it and don’t get separated or travel alone.
- Reach the park by at least 9 AM to get the best views, as the thick mist could shatter your viewing experience if you get late.
Nearby Experiences You Shouldn’t Miss!
The extraordinary visit to Horton Plains can be improved by the short trips you take to visit the nearby attractions. So, do not forget to check out some beautiful waterfalls and landmarks around this region, such as:
- Baker’s Falls
- Slab Rock Falls
- Devil’s Staircase
- Ravana Falls
- Bambarakanda Falls
- Mini World’s End
- Lanka Ella Falls
- Nagadowa Ella Falls
- Aggra Falls
After sightseeing these mesmerizing places, take your way about 12 miles ahead and reach Nuwara Eliya, where you will be transported to a heavenly location with many exciting things to do around.
If you have enough time to spend in the upcountry of Sri Lanka, you can also check out the rare beauty of Ella, which will take only a two-hour ride from Horton Plains.
This is another special place in the country which will offer you a variety of places to see and thrilling activities to do.
Explore The Best Natural Resource In Sri Lanka While Observing Breathtaking Vistas At Horton Plains…
Once you hit Horton Plains, we are sure that you will need to come back to visit this place over and over again. Cloudy atmosphere, laid-back nature trails, exhilarating hikes, enchanting flora and fauna, etc., will keep you awe-inspired until the very end. So, do not forget to include Horton Plains in your Sri Lanka itinerary and leave a comment below if you happen to visit this magical place.