Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains

Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya and 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ohiya. The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Maha Eliya Plains. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. Forest dieback is one of the major threats to the park and some studies suggest that it is caused by a natural phenomenon. The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park. Distance from Colombo : 163km Distance from Air port : 200km Trasfer time by Car/Van : 7 hours from Colombo Highlights : Samber, Leopards, Wild Boar, Wild Hare and Giant Squirrel

Horton plain, its surroundings forests and the adjoining Peak Wilderness, consolidate Sri Lanka's most important catchment area of almost all the major rives. The plains are also of outstanding the habitats and endemic plants and animals representatives of the country wet and montage zones. Access Roads Horton plains can be reached by any of these all roads • Via Nuwara Eliya, Ambewela and Pattipola (32km) • Via Haputale or Welimada, Boralanda, Ohiya (38km) • Nuwara Eliya, Hakgala, Rendapola, Ambewela, pattipola (38km)

Physical Characteristics

Horton plains comprises a gently undulation highland plateau at the southern end of the central mountains massif of Sri Lanka. It is dominated to the north by Mount Totupolakanda (2,357m) and to the west by Mount Kirigalpotta (2,389m). Two escarpments filling from the Horton Plain have contributed immensely to its awe inspiring physiognomy, "big worlds end" by 884m. The charm of the verdure of the mountains encircling he plains as intermittently concealed by mist is heightened by the sparkling Baker's fall.The altitude of the park ranges from about 1,800m to 2,389m at the top of Kirigalpotta. The plateau at 2,100m is the highest tableland in Sri Lanka. The annual rainfall in the region is about 2540mm, but for Horton Plains it may exceed 5000mm. rain occurs throughout most of the year but there is a dry season from January to March. Temperatures are low, with an annual mean temperature 15ºC and ground frost is common in December to February.


Horton Plains is well recognized for its rich biodiversity, its flora given to a high level of endemism. 5% of species are found to be endemic to Sri Lanka. The plateau supports grassland fringed and interspersed with patches of dense montane cloud forest. A rich herbaceous flora flourishes on the patanas with numerous species of both temperate and topical origin. A vast extent of the patanas was broken and brought under potato cultivation a few decades ago. The origin of the montane grasslands has long been debated. Some workers opining that the grassland are an artificial community createx by forest clearance and maintained by periodic burning while others considering them to the natural vegetation of these uplands.


Large mammals could seldom be seen at Horton Plains. Samber is common sight at dusk and in the early morning hours. Mammals which still occur include Elk, Samber Deer, Giant Squirrel, Wild Boar, Wild Hare, Porcupine and Leopard. Horton Plains National park harbors 12 species of endemic birds the following birds are recorded only for Horton Plains. Horton Plains National park harbors 12 species of endemic birds the following birds are recorded only for Horton Plains. Sri Lanka blue magpie Cissa ornate , Dusky Blur Flycatcher Eumyias sordisa , Sri Lanka white – Eye Zosterops ceulonensis and Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon columba torringtonii . There are various species of harriers and buzzards. This park is a paradise for butterflies too. Among reptiles are SnakeAspidurabrachyorrhos and the wide spread agamid Calotes nigrilabris . The only fish is the introduced rainbow trout Salmo gardneri . The distribution of the endemic fresh water shrimp Caridina singhalensis is believed to be confined to a 10k, stretch of river within the park.

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