Horton Park lies at the southern plateau of central highlands. It was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and because of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a National Park in 1988. 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.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. The park, along with the nearby Peak Wilderness Protected Area and the Knuckles Conservation Forest, make up a World Heritage Site called The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. It is situated 8 kilometres from Ohiya, 6 kilometres from the world famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya.
Accommodations are available in Ohiya but a lot of people also prefer staying in Nuwara Eliyat. Vehicles aren’t allowed inside the park so the best way to explore the park is on foot. Start early for the park because World’s End is best seen early otherwise it might get covered with clouds. The entrance fee is about 3000-3500 Sri-Lankan rupees.
The park is pretty eco-conversationalist so if you carry any plastic they will take it away. Fret not! They generally replace it with paper bags. Another word of caution- the chances of finding drinking water are a little on the lower side so just carry your own drinking water along with food. Also the weather here is a little tricky so the plains are cold and wet, so just carry a sweater for precaution but definitely wear stout shoes and some sun-screen for precaution.
There are three trails that the visitors can opt from. 1st is the circular trail of about 9kms which will take you to the World’s End. This is the most popular one and lasts about 2-3 hours. The next trail a longer one of about 22kms is a trek to the top of Kirigalpota- the second highest peak of Sri-Lanka. There is also a shorter route of about 6kms to Totapolakanda- the third highest peak of Sri-Lanka.
The circular trail gives you a glimpse into the flora and fauna of the park. The fauna of the region includes 24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians.
The colonial hunters despatched the elephants that used to roam in the park along ago but you might spot a leopard or a sambar deer and might get a glimpse of the rare bear monkeys. You might also spot an elk, giant squirrel, wild boar, wild hare and porcupine. The park is also an excellent place for bird watching especially the dull-blue eye catcher and yellow-eared bulbul.
Along the circular track one might also get a chance to explore the fauna this region has to offer. Initially you will come across alternate stretches bare patina grassland and densely wooded cloud forest. Beyond that you might see moss-covered keena trees and nellu shrubs. There are also a variety of medical herbs and wild spices like pepper, cardamom and cinnamon found here. A couple of kilometres from here is when you will first encounter what is called the “Small World’s End”.
Small World’s End
The view point here is spectacular but don’t spend a long time here because the better version is just around the corner. Continuing for another 1.5 Kms of clumps of dwarf bamboos, you reach the World’s End. Perched 2140 m above the sea level, the view is as beautiful as it can get.
The cliff plunges almost vertically at 825m, so be careful here. On a clear day you can see the beautiful Indian Ocean coastline although it is far faaar away, the peaks of Kirigalpota and Totapolakanda are in full view, though they are at the edge of the park. Some claim to see all the way to Adam’s Peak. The tea-plantations look beautiful from these heights.
200m beyond the World’s End the path turn inland and will lead you towards the Baker’s Falls. The fall is 22 m high. It is a refreshing sight to the eyes. Heed the warning signals- mind your step, it’s steep and slippery so even if you are an adventure freak, be careful of the rocks and don’t go swim there as the current is a little fast here. You will also find Chimney Pool ahead of Baker Fall’s. It is a man made pool and the water flows here like that of a waterfall. It’s a peaceful place to see.
On the way out there is a small museum! Don’t forget to check that. It is a nice and included in the tour cost. Just outside the entrance of the park on the Ohiya side you will find another track which leads to “Poor Man’s World’s End”. It was named back in the day when it was possible for the common man to come here and enjoy the natural scenic beauty without having to pay the Horton National Park’s fee.
It’s just a five minute walk from the entrance although longer routes along the tea plantations of Ohiya are also available if one might be interested. It’s a fine view offering a different perspective of the drastically plunging escarpment.
All in all if you love trekking and the heights with picturesque scenic beauties, this national park has a lot to offer and this definitely a place for you to visit.