There are altogether 26 national parks in Sri Lanka and Horton Plains National Park is probably the most famous of them all. The most popular attraction in Horton Plains has to be the World’s End.
My girlfriend and I planned to visit Horton Plains National Park all along and it was part of our itinerary.
Where to Stay when Visiting Horton Plains National Park
If your objective is to visit Hortan Plains National Park, you can choose to stay at either Ohiya, Nuwara Eliya or Ella. Ohiya is the closest to Horton Plains National Park at 10.7km, Nuwara Eliya is 28.5km and Ella is the furthest away at 50.3km. Many tourists choose to stay in Nuwara Eliya, taking their time to enjoy Sri Lanka’s famous tea plantations.
Transportation to Horton Plains National Park
There is no public transportation to Horton Plains National Park, so you will have take either a tuk tuk or a private car.
Taking a round-trip tuk tuk to Horton Plains National Park and back will cost you around Rs.4000 from Ohiya and around Rs.6000 from Nuwara Eliya. The journey will take around 30 minutes from Ohiya and 1 hour from Nuwara Eliya. Horton Plains National Park is 2 hours away from Ella, it is too far a distance to take a tuk tuk.
A round-trip to and from Horton Plains National Park by private car will cost around Rs.5000 from Ohiya, Rs.6000 from Nuwara Eliya and around Rs.8000 from Ella.
Horton Plains National Park Entrance Fee
There is no fixed price for the entrance fee, you should expect to pay around Rs.3000 – 3500. The price depends on the type of vehicle you are in and a variety of other factors. I have read in forums that the entrance fee is cheaper if you travel by tuk tuk but I am not sure if this is true.
My Half-Day Trip to Horton Plains National Park
I originally booked an Airbnb at Ohiya, but we wanted to take the Kandy to Ella Scenic Train Ride to the end. It was a 7-hour train ride and we were too tired by the time we reached Ella to ride the train back to Ohiya, so we ended up staying at Ella.
My girlfriend and I managed to find a driver who was willing to drive us to and from Horton Plains National Park for Rs.7000. Having settled that, we explored the small town of Ella.
Ella is a small town centred around Ella Railway Station. There are several guesthouses (we stayed in Udayanga Guesthouse complete with their own restaurant and bar), several restaurants and shops.
We woke up early next morning at 5.30am to wash up and we climbed into the car at 6am.
It is a 2-hour drive from Ella to Horton Plains National Park and we spent the time napping.
I actually got a decent photograph of the sunrise. It’s all mountain roads, so you can expect a lot of going up down mountains. Our driver is very good, he is cautious and keeps a good speed. He even dropped us off at a bakery shop to get our breakfast. (Please email me if you want to get the driver’s contact).
After 2 hours of non-stop driving, we have finally arrived at the entrance to Horton Plains National Park. This is where you pay the entrance fee. As I have said earlier, there is no fixed price for the entrance fee. It depends on the type of vehicle you are travelling in and a variety of other factors. My girlfriend and I paid Rs.3340 each. You should use the toilet here because the next toilet is another 30 minutes away.
After entering the national park, it is another 30 minutes of driving before we reached the Vehicle Park / Bus Park. This is where our driver parked his car and will wait for us to come back.
Our first stop is the Visitor Center to discover Horton Plains National Park. This is where you can learn how World’s End was formed and see how potatoes had an impact on the plains. You will also be able to see the hidden worlds and even hear the call of the leopard.
There is a small toilet just outside the Visitor Center. It is dirty and smelly but use it if you must because there is no toilet inside the national park.
Before you are allowed into the national park, you have to pass through this security checkpoint. All plastics will be thrown away and substituted with paper bags. I am pretty impressed by how stringent the workers are about keeping the national park free of plastics.
There is only one route around the park and it is a looped route, so you will be able to see all the sights no matter which way you decide to take. My girlfriend and I decided to take the route to the right which will take us to Baker’s Falls first, and then to World’s End and Mini World’s End.
Our first stop is Baker’s Falls, a 20m-tall waterfall named after Sir Samuel Baker, a famous explorer.
World’s End is a key tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. It is a sheer cliff with a drop of about 870m. On clear days, you will be able to see the Indian Ocean 81km to the south. It is advisable to reach World’s End before 10am if not the mist form the tea plantations below will make it impossible to see anything.
Around 1km away from World’s End is Little World’s End. This cliff is about 270m in height. You can see the south-eastern view of Sri Lanka.
I even got a bottle of pure spring water! It may not seem like much to some of you but for someone who came from a country with no natural resources, it feels so magical to see natural spring water, let alone drink it. The Horton Plains is the headwaters of three major rivers in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli, Kenali and Walawe. The natural spring water is very clean, I did not have any diarrhea after drinking it.
We saw a huge sambar deer that Horton Plains National Park is famous for in the Vehicle Park / Bus Park and this marks the perfect end to our Norton Plains National Park trip.
The looped route is around 8-9km and the whole trip should take around 3-4 hours. Some of the steps in the forest are a little slippery but it is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Do remember to bring along enough water and food because there is no place to buy food and drinks once you are in the national park.
A big thank you to all the workers who faithfully look after Horton Plains National Park under the scotching sun so that visitors like my girlfriend and I can enjoy the beauty of this place.