If you are spending time in Nuwara Eliya, I fully recommend to spend a morning in Horton Plain National Park. The 3 hour hike through the park is beautiful and relaxing, and will lead you to World’s End, one of the most epic view there is in Sri Lanka. To make the most of your time, here are 5 tips to prepare your hike in Horton Plains.
1. START EARLY
To fully enjoy Horton Plains. you gotta get up early! Ideally you should aim at being at the gate before opening time (6 am) which means leaving Nuwara Eliya around 4.30 am. The continuously changing landscapes make the drive from Nuwara Eliya an experience in itself. The area is home to a few dairy farms, so you will see a lot of cows on green grass lands … a very unusual sight that might make you think for a minute that you are actually in Europe. Horton Plains seats around 2000m above sea level, while Nuwara Eliya is at 1800m … meaning you will have to the drive sharply up to get to the park entrance (you will need a good car for that). Of course, the higher you go, the more breathtaking the surrounding view gets, especially as the sun rises.
When we visited, we actually arrived at 7am, and although there was a bit of tourist at the entrance, it was still okay. We started the walk, with quite a few people around us, but as everyone adjust to their own rhythm, we ended up doing most of the walk alone, and that was perfect !
2. DRESS FOR THE WALK
If you follow my recommendations and arrive very early, it will be pretty cold. After all, you are more than 2000m above sea level, before sunrise ! So don’t hesitate to bring a light sweater or a long sleeve shirt. However, as the sun rises, and as you go on with your walk, you will get warmer and warmer, so the key here is to layer layer layer ! The weather can be fast changing too, so you might be happy to get some warmer layers even later in your hike.
Although the hike is not very challenging, I would advise you to wear a good pair of walking shoes (confirmable sneakers or hiking boots, just no flip flops). Wouldn’t it be a pity to spring an ankle during your holiday !
Wearing a cap / hat and bringing some sun lotion is also a good idea . I didn’t think of it, and I wish I had a picture of my own sunburn to show you.
3. BE AMAZED AT WORLD’S END, BUT BE CAREFUL
The highlight of the Horton Plains hike is definitely Worlds End, where the plateau ends in a sheer precipice of nearly 900 m ! Although I am not afraid of height, as I looked down nearly 1 km to the bottom, without any fence (only some barb wires) it felt pretty scary. Spectacular, but scary ! The oceans is nearly 100 km away, but on clear days you can see it … imagine that.
Just to be clear, there is absolutely no fence or safety rail in World’s End, and although it is rare there has been some cases of people falling straight down to their death. So be careful, and if you are traveling with children, just don’t let go of them. And if you want to take a daredevil selfie …. just don’t!
I had imagined World’s End to be a huge plateau, just plunging down, but the place is actually pretty small. Most people tend to stop at World’s End for a break and a snack, so it can get pretty busy, which personally added to my fear of falling down, so I just sat somewhere quite far from the edge.
4. BE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS
Horton Plains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and as such we should take a special interest in preserving it (although I think all sites should be equally preserved …). In a conscious effort to preserve the fauna and flora of the park, it is not allowed to bring any plastic inside except a bottle of water (but you will have to remove the plastic label & the plastic ring around the cap before entering the park). There is no bin in the park, so you will have to wait until you get outside the park to be able to dispose of trash.
The path is very easy to follow, and you shouldn’t try to go beyond it. First of all it can be quite dangerous for yourself, and second of all, you are likely to damage the environment.
It is also recommended to stay relatively quiet, so as not to scare the animals away.
5. CHOOSE THE RIGHT DIRECTION
The Horton Plains hike is 10km loop. At some point around 5 min after the park entrance, you have the choice to walk left toward Mini World’s End, or right towards Baker’s Falls. We did the hike counter clock wise, meaning we walked right at the fork and I recommend you to do the same.
The first part of the park is very open, with gorgeous views but little shade. For me, it is the most beautiful part of the park, and I really enjoyed it under the sun, before the clouds rolled and in, and the heat got too intense.
Reaching World’s end before 10am is a must if you want to enjoy the view. Afterwards the clouds roll in and the only thing to see at World’s End is a white screen of fog.
Further down the hike is Mini World’s End, an other cliff, somewhat less impressive than its big sister. By the time I got there, it was already pretty foggy anyway and I didn’t get much of a view.
The second part of the hike mostly goes through a forest and is a good place to spot wildlife such a birds, small reptiles etc .. Personally I am not that interested and prefer vast open landscape, so I didn’t particularly enjoy that part of the walk. But as the weather had turned cloudy, I didn’t mind not to have such a great view to look at anyway.
Last one of my tips to prepare your hike in Horton Plains : the cost is a bit complicated to calculate, depending on the car, the number of people, hiring a guide or not etc … but overall as a foreigner you should expect to pay a rather steep 25 USD/person.
For more information on Sri Lanka, check my 10 days itinerary here.
Looking for more info on things to do around Nuwara Eliya ? Check out the beautiful pictures of SaltinOurHair here.
Well I really hope you are decided to hike in Horton Plains Naitonal Park, and that these 5 tips will be helpful for you to prepare your hike. Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you think I should add. Thanks !
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