Named after Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, British Governor of Ceylon in the 19th century, Horton Plains is a beautiful paradise of diverse visions and nature’s marvels. Known as the ‘Roof of the Island’, it contains the most extensive area of cloud forest in Sri Lanka.
The Horton Plains National Park at an altitude of 2,100 metres above sea level and spread over 3,169 hectares, along with the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary and Knuckles Mountain Range comprises the Central Highlands World Heritage Site. The landscape is covered in a tropical cloud of forest or lush montane savannah grasslands known as ‘patana’. It’s almost an Eden where every perfect blessing of nature including exist in peace and tranquillity.
A popular tourist destination in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, it is situated 165km from the capital Colombo.The plains provides excellent hiking tracks, which include the main circuit Nature Trail that takes the visitor through grand views of the Small World’s End, the Big World’s End, Baker’s Falls and Chimney Falls. The World’s End is the most dramatic finale to a long hike, with a 1,000 metre abrupt vertical drop, that would certainly make the faint hearted a bit dizzy. One can choose the more adventurous nature trails to Thotupolakanda and Kirigalpoththa as well.
The Main Trail starts at Farr Inn, which houses the Horton Plains Information Centre. Only eco-friendly material is allowed to be taken into the park from the entrance. Plastic bottles must be brought back. Polythene, cigarettes and flamable material cannot be taken.
The Park is home to a wide variety of flora (57 species, 29 endemic to Sri Lanka) and 24 species of mammals such as elk, deer, giant squirrel, wild boar, wild hare, porcupine and leopard. It is also home to the rhino-horned lizard, a rare species, including other lizards flaunting outrageously fluorescent green scales. For bird enthusiasts, there are 87 species (14 of which are endemic),
including many migratory birds. Endemics birds on the Plains include Sri Lanka White Eye, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Ceylon Hill Munia and Dull-blue Flycatcher. Hiking in the morning will require some warm clothing, although hiking at mid-day will definitely demand some form of head covering and sun screen. Water at any time of the day on the Plains is a must, and so are nibbles. A cup of steaming tea or a mug of coffee will never fail to invigorate sagging spirits in a landscape that is quick to change from sunny to misty.