About Horton Plains National Park
Tourists from all over the world head for this national park, a highland-like structure with plains on one side and spectacular mountains and deep jungles on the other. All of it constitutes the Central Highlands of the island country Sri Lanka.
You need to wake up very early in the morning to take in the beauty of this park before the clouds roll in to obscure the view. Make sure you are prepared to head for the park by 9 am, else, you will miss the scenic view because a thick blanket of morning mist enfolds Horton Plains for the rest of the day.
Take a walk deep into this national park to discover World’s End, which is a towering cliff top offering a sweeping view of Sri Lanka towards the coast and also past the shoreline. You will discover numerous lakes, waterfalls, rocky hills, as well as the spectacular view of the ocean from this heritage site in Sri Lanka.
Besides, the scenic vista, Horton Plains National Park is covered with thick verdant forests boasting a variety of wild animals and numerous species of birds. The national park is an inimitable ecosystem with plentiful flora and fauna, which is why it’s hailed as a super biodiversity site of Sri Lanka.
How to Reach Horton Plains National Park
If you are contemplating reaching Horton Plains National Park from Kandy Airport, you can rent a car or hire a cab or taxi to reach your destination. The distance from the airport to the park is approximately 107.4 km and would take you around two hours by taxi or car. Traveling by car or taxi is also the quickest way to reach Horton Plains National Park from the airport.
Best Time to Visit Horton Plains National Park
The perfect time to visit Horton Plains National Park is the beginning of the year, particularly from January – March. The park remains covered with clouds and mist most times of the year, but not during the start of a year.
Therefore, if you want to get the best views, visit from January to March, the first three months of the year. The park also remains less crowded during this time of the year.
Make sure you head for the national park early in the morning and reach your destination by 9 am. Beyond that, misty weather will not give you the best viewing experience.
What Not to Miss at Horton Plains National Park
There are many activities to do in the park, a scenic paradise tucked away in the island country of Sri Lanka. These include:
2. Animal watching
You can spot a couple of endemic species and native to the jungles, including the rhino horn lizard, huge long-tailed squirrels, painted lip lizard, bear monkey, Toque monkey, barking deer, fishing cat, and stripe necked mongoose. You can take photos if you are fortunate enough to spot these elusive animals.
3. Bird watching
You will tree ferns Maha Meewana dotting the jungle openings, while Nelu and Binara are endemic to this park and known for their striking blossoms. Take photos of Bivitiya, which is another stunningly beautiful flower in this region.
5. Hang around with your friends and family at Farr Inn
You will also find a small souvenir store adjacent to this café, where you can look up books on the national park and its rich history.
Places to visit around Horton Plains National Park
There are a couple of places to explore around Horton Plains National Park. They are:
1. Bambarakanda Falls
You can visit Bambarakanda Falls, which is just an hour from the national park with your family and friends. The fall is the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka and looks splendid full of gushing water during the monsoon months.
2. Baker’s Falls
3. Ravana Falls
If you happen to visit Horton Plains National Park during the monsoon, you can see the waterfall full of life, resembling the areca flower with drooping petals. If you love splashing in the water, then this fall is your best bet for taking a refreshing swim, but be careful because the rocks are quite slippery here.
The waterfall is named after Sri Lankan King Ravana from the epic Ramayana. According to legends, Ravana kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife and hid her in the caves at the back of this waterfall.
Other Essential Information About Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is seated in Sri Lanka and a conserved area in the Central Highlands of this island country.
The entry fee for the locals is 30 INR for a day visit but 60 INR if you are looking for an overnight visit. Again, the entry fee is 1,150 INR and 2,090 INR for foreign tourists for a day and overnight visit respectively. The entry fee is more if you are not a local and need to shell out vehicle fees up to 500 INR, which makes the trip to Horton Plain National Park quite expensive.
The opening hours are from 6 am in the morning to 6 pm in the evening.
Facilities and safety:
Before you enter Horton Plains National Park, ensure that you use the washrooms close to the entrance because it’s the sole facility available in the park. The place also has paper bags in case you want them. Avoid carrying plastic because you’ll not be allowed to take plastic bags inside the park.
There are many places to take some splendid photos but watch out near the edges. There have numerous horror tales and accidents near the cliff edge. Therefore, take the required precautions before taking photos.
Distance from Kandy Airport:
The distance from Kandy Airport to the park is 107.4 km if you take the road through A5 and B512.
Geography of the Horton Plains
The Horton Plains is seated on the southern plateau of Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands as well as a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. Horton Plains consists of three major portions, the Horton Plains National Park, the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, as well as the Knuckles Conservation Forest.
The place receives abundant rainfall at a height of 2100 to 2300 meters and as far as temperature is concerned, it fluctuates. The temperature can rise as much as 27 degrees Celsius during the day and dip at five degrees or even to one degree Celsius, giving you the chills.
Due to cloud cover over the deep forest, the thick mist frequently shrouds the sunlight leaving no sun rays reaching the plant life. The Horton Plains is also known for its reddish-yellow podzolic soil, thus giving rise to some of the endemic species of this place.
The national park features the Archean age rocks comprised of Khondalites, granite gneisses, and Charnockites, prevalent right from the Precambrian period. All of these make the Horton plains and its physical features extremely appealing and significant for the visitors and travel enthusiasts.
Flora and Fauna at the Horton Plains National Park
The diverse vegetation comes under two distinct groups, the montane grasslands extending for about 2000 hectares of land and the subtropical montane evergreen jungles encircle 1160 hectares of this region. You will find numerous endemic plant varieties in the deep forests including herbaceous plants as well as tropical varieties like the endemic daffodil orchid.
The herbaceous plant species are Fragaria, Plantago, and Viola found in abundance in Horton Plains National Park.
As far as the animal life of the national park is concerned, it is amusing, copious, and diverse. There are at least 24 varieties of mammals like rusty-spotted cats, purple-faced langurs, wild boars, and Sri Lankan leopards. However, the commonly spotted animals are the Sambar Deer found in Horton Plains National Park.
The park boasts of a combination of mixed varieties of fauna including nine reptile species, 87 bird species, as well as eight amphibian species. Horton Plains National Park is also popular for its elephants; though the species became extinct here post the 1940s.
The national park is the favorite of bird lovers, home to a diverse 21 species including the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lankan magpie, Wood pigeon, Sri Lankan Spurfowl, Yellow-fronted Barbet, jungle fowl, Orange-billed babbler, and Sri Lankan white-eye.
The special mention is of the Sambar deer in Horton Plains National Park, the animals you can spot around the edges of wooded parts of the forest. If you are fortunate, you can notice the giant squirrels and shaggy bear-monkey and capture these animals in their various moods in your camera lens.
You may also notice animals such as the large herd elk, outlined against the lowland clouds that move past rhododendrons, a colorful flowering plant seen in Horton Plains National Park. You will also spot the rhino-horned lizard, which is an unusual and relic species of the forest. Take photos of a few lizards with preposterously, fluorescent green scales.
Tips for visiting Horton Plains National Park
There are a few things to remember before you visit Horton Plains National Park. These are:
- Reach the park by 9 am to get the best scenic views. If you are late, the mist cover will ruin your viewing experience.
- Make sure you have around three or four hours for the trekking adventure, which includes halts for taking pictures.
- Bring exact currency notes or small change like coins if you want to use the toilets near the entrance for a fee.
- Do not forget to visit the museum close to the park entrance
- Do not speak loud or shout when walking around the park because you may scare off the wild animals. Keep silent if you want to spot animals and take photos.
- Wear comfortable, strong walking shoes, sunhat, and shades.
- Carry food, water, and sunscreen lotion.