Horton Plains National Park
The Horton Plains National Park is just one of the serene nature reserves in the central highlands that possess an eclectic mix of both resplendent nature and intriguing mythology. It is located about 29km away from the city of Nuwara Eliya.
Designated a natural world heritage site by UNESCO in 2010, the Horton Plains National Park contains breathtaking trails that make for some spectacular views of Sri Lanka’s flora and fauna. It does not end there, as the national park boasts of fascinating natural attractions and views, such as the Baker’s Falls and the World’s End precipice. The plains are rich in biodiversity, with many species found in it being endemic to the region. The park is also a designated Important Bird Area.
Horton Plains has three main hiking trails. One trail leads to the Kirigalpoththa mountain, which at 7,838ft is the second highest peak in Sri Lanka. It is also the highest accessible peak, as the tallest mountain in the country, Pidurutalagala (8,281ft) is out of bounds to the public. The Kirigalpoththa trail takes you through areas of wet grassland, cloud forests and shrubs, and also alongside a refreshing stream. The trail is not difficult, but the last incline that reaches the summit is a bit steep.
The second trail leads to Thotupola Kanda, a place linked to the Ramayana and steeped in legend. Thotupola Kanda is believed to have been one of the landing pads for Ravana’s ingenious flying machine–the Pushpaka Vimana. The trail goes through thick forest with a rather dense undergrowth, but is not too difficult.
The third is a circular trail that includes World’s End Precipice, a 4000ft drop and Baker’s Falls, a 66ft waterfall. World’s End also has links to the Ramayana, as it is believed to be one of the areas in which King Ravana hid Sita.
Take note that you should carry enough water with you, as some trails do not have access to water sources. It might be best to avoid wearing shorts, as some trails lead through thick undergrowth. Furthermore, it can get rather windy and chilly up on the plains, so it is best to have a sweater on hand.