Trekking Horton Plains, Sri Lanka. To worlds end (and back again!)

One of the reasons people rave about Nuwara Eliya is because it’s the starting point for one of Sri Lanka’s most famous treks-World’s End in Horton Plains.

Trekking Horton Plains-World's end view

What is Horton Plains National Park?

The 9km looped track through the beautiful Horton Plains national park takes you to a stunning viewpoint named World’s End. You can see where it got its name when you reach the 4000 foot high precipice. The plains themselves are home to a huge array of wildlife, including samba deer, many birds and even leopards!

How much do I need to budget?

This wasn’t a cheap trip. We got a car from Nuwara Eliya which cost us £20 (to spread the cost you could find other travellers wanting to do the same trip). The entrance fee was pretty confusing-they charge for the vehicle based on size, extra for tax, and goodness knows what else. It was a hectic paying system that seemed to involve the drivers running from one ticket office to another in a mad mess that we didn’t really understand.

In total for two, including transport, our trip cost nearly £80.

Although I didn’t regret doing the trek (the views were stunning and different to other places we visited in Sri Lanka), I would have thought twice had I been aware of the extortionate fees before we left. If you are on a budget save your money for other, more impressive sights such as Sigiriya or a whale watching trip.

What to expect on the Horton Plains trek

Trekking Horton Plains-red clay scenery

If you are starting from Nuwara Eliya then I can highly recommend a stay at Charlie’s Place, detailed in my blog here. You will want to book a car or a tuk tuk for early in the morning, preferably about an hour and a half before sunrise. The car we booked cost us £20 and easily fit two passengers plus our luggage (take it with you if you plan on catching the train straight to Ella). The driver will wait for you to finish the trek and take you on to the nearest train station for your trip on wards.

The road up to Horton Plains is steep and winding. There are places to stop off for some sunrise photography and the views alone are worth the early start.

There is a bit of a dance at the ticket office, with some hectic running around and some confused looking tourists, but once you’re through all is calm and serenely quiet. We were greeted by the sight of deers grazing, completely unfazed by the admiring tourists.

Trekking Horton Plains-a deer grazing

Tip: Be prepared for the entrance gate by not packing any plastic. We loved these strict eco-friendly rules and hope it helps to keep the area safe from littering. If you forget, they have paper bags ready and will confiscate your plastics.

The trek forms a loop of the national park, taking in the best sights along the way. We headed the opposite way to the crowds which meant that we had the first half of our walk to ourselves. There is no need to take a guide as the route is very clearly marked and most of the time it is relatively easy walking, with only a few scrambles and steeper paths.

World’s End

World’s End is about half way along the route. The unprotected cliff edge falls a sharp 4000 feet down and the view stretches for miles. You must get here early before it is completely covered by cloud.

Trekking Horton Plains-world's end

There are numerous places to get great photos but be careful near the edge. There are plenty of horror stories accompanying this cliff and you must take the usual safety precautions.

Other sights along the way

On the trek you will pass through numerous different habitats. Take a pair of binoculars if you are a keen birdwatcher. Ours came in handy when we spotted a giant squirrel in a nearby tree!

Trekking Horton Plains-a giant squirrel

Don’t miss Bakers Falls, a pretty waterfall and a welcome relief from the sun. There is a smaller viewpoint aptly named ‘Mini World’s End’ which is also beautiful.

Things to know

Leave about 3-4 hours for the trek, including stops for photographs.

There is a small fee for the toilets so bring change.

There’s a little museum at the entrance/exit which is worth a look if you have time.

It’s worth keeping the noise down as you walk around the national park as you’ll have more chance of spotting the wildlife. This was tricky as the day went on and the paths became more crowded.

Trekking Horton Plains-a landscape view of horton plains

What to bring

  • Plenty of water is a must-especially as the day heats up
  • Suncream/hat
  • Snacks
  • A jumper for the cold early start
  • Remember no plastic. Plastic water bottles are allowed but they will strip off plastic labels or plastic from around the cap
  • Camera/binoculars