Set in central highlands of Sri Lanka, Horton Plains National Park is unlike any other place in the country and is often compared to the Scottish highlands, for its windswept landscape and cool, wet climate. It is named after Sir Robert Wilmot- Horton, the British Governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837. Formerly a wildlife sanctuary, the area was declared a national park in 1988. At an elevation of over 2,000 m, the park is situated on the highest plateau in Sri Lanka, with its terrain characterized by undulating grasslands interspersed with dense cloud forests, rocky outcrops and waterfalls. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, Horton Plains also boasts a large number of bird species. However, the key attraction in the park is World’s End, a sheer precipice affording panoramic views across the southern part of the island.
Unlike other national parks in Sri Lanka, Horton Plains can be explored on foot and without a guide, provided visitors stick to the market trails. While there are several trails in the park, the majority of people follow the Loop Trail. It is possible to head in the direction of either World’s End or Baker’s Falls. Although the most choose to go to World’s end first, the last stretch of this trail between Baker’s Falls and the entrance is an open grassland with no shade. It is advisable to wear good walking shoes as the paths are rocky and uneven. The best time to visit the park is early in the morning, around 7 am, to allow plenty of time to reach World’s end before 10 am, when clouds roll in and the view is obscured from the escarpment. Avoid visiting the park on weekends and public holidays as it can be very busy and noisy. Although the park can be chilly in the morning, it warms up quickly, so bring a hat and sunscreen.