Horton Plains, Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

Horton Plains

The cool and misty world heritage national park, home to sambar deer

The Horton Plains designated a national park in 1988, is a world heritage listed and protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. A misty and rain swept landscape whose cool, wet climate reminded the British of their own country, it has fostered the growth of a unique but fragile ecosystem. The park is covered by wild grasslands with patches of thick forest, rocky outcrops, gently flowing waterfalls and misty lakes.

High and wild to Worlds End

Known as Maha-Eliya to the locals, the plains at an altitude of over two thousand metres are covered by mountain grassland and cloud forest. Rich in biodiversity and with many species endemic to the region, Horton Plains is a popular tourist destination. Bounded at its southern edge by the plunging cliffs that mark the edge of the hill country, this area includes the famous World’s End, where the escarpment falls dramatically for the best part of a kilometre to the lowlands below.

Three rivers brimming with life

World's End Horton Plains Sri Lanka

Three major Sri Lankan rivers or gangas, the Mahaveli ganga, the Kelani ganga and the Walawe ganga begin their journey from this plateau situated between Sri Lanka’s second and third tallest mountains (both over 7000 feet). Tools made of stone dating back 30,000 years have been found here. The vegetation on the plains is grasslands with mountain forests in the lower reaches, and includes many endemic plants.

The park’s most visible residents are its herds of sambar deer and you might see rare bear-faced (also known as purple-faced) monkeys in the lower forests. Both wild boar and leopard, although rare, can also be found in this area. The park is also the best place on the island for bird watching  with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains.