Hiking Through Horton Plains
The centerpiece of Sri Lanka's highland experience, enjoyed through a hardy trek
This highland plateau ends at the World's End, a breathtaking precipiece that lives upto it's name
Hiking Through Horton Plains is a breathtaking experience. The Horton Plains is situated at the center of Sri Lanka’s hill country and is a breathtaking highland plateau placed about 2200 meters above sea level. The entire land areas is been protected as Horton Plains National Park and it was declared a world heritage site back in 2006.
It is accessible via Ginigathena (185.4 km) or via the A5 Road (228.5 km) which connects Peradeniya with Chenkalady in the east via Gampola & Nuuwara Eliya.
Horton plains has an interesting history behind it with the discovery of early stone tools dating back to the Balangoda Culture (According to Archeological sequences the earliest evidence of Balangoda Man at caves and other sites dates back to 38,000 BP).
The weather at the plains varies considerably during the course of the day with temperatures as high as 27 degrees centigrade during the day and dipping as low as 5 degrees centigrade in the evenings and night with thick mist formation and regular rainfall throughout the year.
What to Expect at Horton Plains
A Horton Plains Hike would take about 3 hours. So the best advice would be to head off early. We left Nuwara Eliya around 5 am and were one of the first groups into the park. The windy uphill drive will take about an hour until you reach the entrance of the park. Once here your driver will park and go buy your Horton Plains National Park entrance fee for you. You’ll be sitting waiting and about 50 other vans will all park around you. But don’t worry, you’re not boxed in. They seem to have some sort of system, and as soon as your driver has purchased your ticket you’ll be off. Then it’s another 15-minute drive to the start of the hike.
Hiking Towards World’s End, Horton Plains
Once parked, your driver will probably walk you to the entrance, hand over your entry ticket and then you can set off on your hike. Travel to Word’s End is not that hard. After the first 10 minutes of walking, you’ll reach a fork in the road. The left path is most commonly taken and gets you to World’s End faster. The right path takes you to Baker’s Falls first and is probably as an easier option as you take the steeper part of the hike at a decline. Which path you take really depends on when you get there and your fitness level. If you’re there super early like we were (literally the 2nd group on the path) take the left route as World’s End won’t be as busy when you arrive. If you get there a little later and want to take it easy take the right path.
We took the left path so I’ll talk you through taking that route. Once you take the left turn off you’ll walk for about half an hour through grassy hills and then head into the thick jungle. We saw a few monkeys and one huge squirrel that must have eaten some sort of radioactive waste ‘coz it was bloody gigantic! After this you’ll reach a clearing which is Little World’s End Sri Lanka. The view here is pretty beautiful. As we were early the sun was rising over the mountains and the clouds were swirling in the valley below. The hill also continues further up and you can climb it for a better view. However, we stopped for a few pics here but continued on quickly on down the path on the right as I was determined to be the first to reach the real World’s End.
The next 20 minutes of walking take you on a bit of a decline through a rocky extinct river bed. Nothing too hard though. And then you’ll finally reach World’s End Nuwara Eliya! And as a little bonus for our early morning, we were the first there! Which meant unlimited selfie taking opportunities.
The Loop Back & Baker’s Falls
Now that all the excitement is over it’s time to start the somewhat anti-climactic trip back to the entrance. The loop back via Baker’s Falls can be a little difficult and steep at times and you’ll start bumping into a few more people. It will take you another 30-minutes walk till you reach the path down to Baker’s Falls. The Falls are nice. But nothing to write home about. And then from there you walk along grassy hilltops all the way back to the park entrance. The entire loop took us about 2.5 hours. Hiking Through Horton Plains is the most the most breathtaking and most memorable experience a foreign visitor can have when visiting Sri lanka.