HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK, Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the world's best nature reserves and eco tourism venues. It is characterised by a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, covered in upper montane forest and wet patana grassland.
In general, the forests are seen on the hilltops or upper slopes the grasslands in the valleys and lower slopes, eventually giving way to wetland habitats. Spanning approximately 10,000 hectares the park is also home to a wide variety of flora (57 species, 29 endemic to Sri Lanka) and 24 species of mammal such as elk, deer, giant squirrel, wild boar, wild hare, porcupine and leopard. For bird enthusiasts, there 87 species (14 of which are endemic), including many migratory birds.
The Plains also feature many interesting attractions such as 'Bakers Falls', 'Chimmini Pool' and the famous 'World's End' (a 3700 ft sheer drop that offers fabulous views of the tea estates below and all the way out to the distant southern coastline).
The Horton Plains are located on Sri Lanka 's highest plateau, between altitudes of 2,000 and 2, 300m. The landscape typically consists of undulating lands covered in a tropical cloud of forests or verdant montane savannah grasslands, locally known as patannahs. Visiting Horton Plains or 'Mahaeliya' as it is traditionally named is quite popular amongst locals, who mostly come to admire the views from the park's thrilling escarpments such as World's End at weekends . For this reason we recommend that you try to organise your visit during a weekday as this ensures that you will experience the Plain's isolated serenity.
Visitors to the park can follow a 10km loop that incorporates all of the spectacular features, enabling them to enjoy them while adhering to the strict rules for environment protection and nature conservation. The best time to visit is early in the morning as this is when the air is likely to be clearest so that you can enjoy the best of the views. In the afternoons, clouds tend to descend and the area becomes submerged in mist. This is equally enthralling though and provides evidence for the evolution of this forest type. Allowing a half-day should give you plenty of time to enjoy it all at a leisurely pace.
class="bodytext_white">The Plains are actually named after Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, a rather selfish and bloody-minded Brit (no surprise there then) who was singularly responsible for the slaying of all of the elephants in the area between 1831 to 1837. Although there is little hope of elephants ever returning, you can at least walk around in comparative safety admiring the many other interesting creatures around and about. Of these perhaps the most worthy of a mention are the Samber Deer, a common sight at dusk and in the early hours of the morning.
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