Horton Plains National Park is in central Sri Lanka. It is a forested highland plateau area with the most extensive area of cloud forest in Sri Lanka.
Horton Plains is one of a group of three highland parks listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as Central Highlands of Sri Lanka; the others are the Knuckles Mountain Range and the Peak Wilderness Protected Area.
The land area covered by Horton Plains is 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq mi).
The original name of the area was Maha Eliya Thenna (මහ එළිය තැන්න - "great open plain"). The British 'discovered' the plateau in 1834 and renamed the area after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, who travelled to the area to meet the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836.
Stone tools dating back to the Balangoda culture (who existed from around 30,000 to around 10,000 BCE) have been found here. The local population who resided in the lowlands ascended the mountains to mine gems, extract iron ore, construct an irrigation canal and fell trees for timber. A 6-metre (20 ft) pollen core extracted from a mire revealed that in the late quaternary period the area had a semi-arid climate and a species-restricted plant community.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker advised the British Government "to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft. undisturbed" and an administrative order to this effect was issued in 1873 that prevented clearing and felling of forests in the region. Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969, and because of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a national park in 1988. The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary which lies in west is contiguous with the park.
Flora and fauna
Some routes to the area are discussed in World Heritage Sites Tour in Sri Lanka.
Fees and permits
The official department responsible for Horton Plains National Park is: http://www.dwc.gov.lk/ You can contact them for fees and permits.
As of Jan 2013, there are numerous fees and charges associated with visiting Hortons Plains. Nonetheless, it should still cost no more than R8,000 for 2 people to hire a van and get into Horton's Plains to see World's End. This should include the van hire (R3,500), park fees for both tourists and the van itself and the hiring of a local guide. Gently question anyone who quotes more than this as it highly likely that they are attempting to overcharge you.
- Horton Plains National Park Circuit Trail (9-km trek)
- Baker's Falls
- World's End (Mini & Greater)
- Mt. Kirigalpoththa (second highest peak, 2,388 m)
- Thotupola Kanda (third highest peak, 2,357 m)