Horton Plains - World's End
Travel Update Summer 2020: Most destinations, sites and parks reopened with limitations. Check the official websites and read our crucial ‘BEST TIME TO GO' and ‘AVOIDING THE CROWDS’ tips:
It's often discussed if it is worth to pay the high entrance fee to Horton Plains and hike to World's End. The hike itself is not outstanding, but the cloud forest with its inhabitants is. It's a unique hotspot for endemic species which you may watch here only at an altitude of 2000 meters and above. Continue reading to get all necessary information for this World Heritage Site.
The very best time of the year for visiting Horton Plains is from January to March very early in the morning. Early for two reasons; to dodge the crowds and for a spectacular view of World's End. You already need to leave Nuwara Elya at dawn. It's quite difficult to get here independent. It takes roughly 1 1/2 hours to get to the entrance. If you arrive early, you may spot samba deer. Their numbers increased in the last years. At the entrance, your bag may get controlled by rangers or security for plastic. The park is well protected and therefore very clean without rubbish along the trail. Try to be at the popular outlook before 9 am. Clouds and mist spoil the view frequently.
It's a circular trail. If you arrive a little late at Horton Plains walk to the left first. Direction left leads you faster to the World's End. Anyhow, don't come here in a rush otherwise you won't spot some of the endemic lizards like the rhino-horned lizard.
Rain occurs throughout the year, but there is less precipitation in the "dry" season from January to March. April is still a little drier. There is a big difference in the amount of rainfall. The highlands on lower elevation have an annual rainfall of more than 2000 mm while around World's End and the cloud forest on a higher elevation the amount is more than 5000 mm each year. The cloud forest is mistier during the rainy season especially from May to July. Usually the annual day temp is below 20°C due to the high elevation. Weather can change quickly, and it can get chilly within minutes. Bring a jacket for the evening. Expect one digit temps in the night.
World's End is a very popular and moderate hike also for the Sri Lankan people; the reason weekends are busier. Other trails in the park are not crowded. You have these trails almost for yourself. From 10 am onwards, it gets crowded.
Where to Stay in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya has an immense variety of accommodations. We'd chosen the old colonial style Jetwing St. Andrew's. The breakfast and dinner were delicious. Ask for the renovated rooms. Anyhow, it's difficult to recommend one of the many hotels. Check out the 30 Best Budget and Luxury Hotels in Nuwara Eliya. There is much precipitation in this area. We got told that some of the hotels may have an issue with this high amount of rain. It can happen that rooms smell. Check out the guests' feedback before booking.
Horton Plains was declared as a National park in 1988 and World Heritage Site since 2010. The plateau on an elevation of over 2000 meters is rich in biodiversity and popular for many endemic species. Endemic to Sri Lanka are the white eye (bird), the rhino-horned lizard or the black-lipped lizard found only in the high elevation of more than 1000 meters. More than 20 endemic bird species occur here.
It is a 32 km drive which takes almost 1 1/2 hours from Nuwara Eliya. Horton Plans is a popular destination even more at weekends. A permit is required to enter the park. A circular 9 km walk starts at the visitor center. The path is not well marked. If you start the hike clockwise, you get to World's End and the cloud forest first. Counterclockwise you get to the grasslands. The British colonists cleared the forest here, and the fertile soil got destroyed. The elephants were hunted to extinction. Continue walking along a river until Bakers Falls which are 20 m / 66 feet high. Shortly afterward you get to World's End which is situated at the southern boundary of the park. We walked not fast. We always tried to spot some of the endemic lizards or birds. The cloud forest and the rhododendrons are stunning. Unfortunately, there is a threat to the cloud forest; the forest dieback disease first mentioned in 1978.
Worlds End is a weather depending attraction. Don't walk here during heavy rainfall. The path gets slippery and muddy. You can get lost in bad weather due to missing signs along the trail.
Good to Know
To leave the park free of plastic your bag get controlled. Bring your snacks or sandwichs wrapped in paper.