Horton Plains National Park is located in the highlands of southern Sri Lanka at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. Its fascinating landscape and the breathtaking viewpoint "World's End" are best visited in the early morning.
Horton Plains National Park is located in the highlands of southern Sri Lanka, a good 30 kilometres from the popular tourist destination of Nuwara Eliya. It is named after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the British governor of Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then called. It was established in 1988 to protect the unique forests and is one of our top 10 attractions in Sri Lanka.
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Flora and Fauna in Horton Plains National Park
The good 30 square kilometres of the Horton Plains National Park are covered by Sri Lanka's largest cloud forest and wet grasslands. Many of the over 700 different plant species in the national park are unique in the world here, including half of the tree species. Characteristic are the twisted branches of the trees, which bend to the omnipresent wind instead of fighting it.
The lush jungle of Horton Plains National Park is roamed by large herds of samba de er. They have stolen the title of the largest mammal in the national park from the Asian elephant, as the pachyderms have not been seen in this region of Sri Lanka since the 1940s. In addition, the national park is home to macaques, langurs, wild cats, mongooses, wild boars and leopards. In total, 24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, 9 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians live in Horton Plains National Park.
Climate in Horton Plains National Park
Due to its high altitude of over 2,000 metres, the climate in Horton Plains National Park is a lot cooler and windier than in the rest of Sri Lanka. Nearly 30°C is possible during the day, but only when the sun breaks through the clouds. The average temperature is only 16°C, 10°C less than on the coast, and it can even freeze at night, especially in February.
Tip: Due to the high altitude, don't forget sun protection even when it's not so hot!
Places of interest in Horton Plains National Park
The fantastic vegetation of the national park can be explored on your own on a variety of signposted jungle trails. A trail about 10 kilometres long leads to all important points of the national park and can be completed in half a day. Visitors can expect dense jungle, rushing waterfalls, vast grassy plains and marshy marshlands. At the entrance to the park there is a small museum that provides interesting information about the national park.
Tip: Before you are allowed to enter, your bags will be searched - no plastic bags are allowed into the National Park!
Besides the fascinating mountain landscape of the Horton Plains National Park, there are two main attractions to visit.
In the south of the national park is the so-called "World's End", a breathtaking cliff that drops almost vertically 1,000 metres into the depths. On clear days, you can even see all the way to the sea from here.
Tip: The best chance for the best view from World's End is in the early morning. Until around 9 am, the spectacular cliff is usually still free of clouds.
Not far from there is the "little end of the world", where the steep face drops "only" 270 metres into the depths.
Also worth seeing are the almost 20m high "Bakers Falls", named after the hunter and explorer Samuel Baker, who founded the town of Nuwara Eliya. The waterfall, which flows over several cascades, is lined by a forest of wild rhododendron and fern bushes.
Tip: If you explore the national park in the early morning, you can still enjoy the morning peace and the solitude of nature. A weekday is also recommended for the visit, as many locals also want to enjoy the fantastic view from World's End at the weekend.
Threats to the Horton Plains National Park
The threats facing the Horton Plains National Park are destruction, fire and rubbish from tourists (several samba deer have already died in agony from eating plastic waste) and air pollution from car traffic.
Since 1978, an inexplicable forest dieback has been diagnosed, which mainly affects the outer regions of the national park and kills up to 50% of the entire vegetation. This is counteracted with artificial irrigation and fertilisation. Reforestation is difficult due to the occasional frost.