Though World’s End at Horton Plains, Sri Lanka is not as well known as the towering Adam’s Peak, it is frequently ranked as the top hike in the country. We took to the trail ourselves to find out more about this somewhat-hidden highlight.
Located within one of Sri Lanka’s many national Parks, Horton Plains would feel at home within the pages of a New Zealand nature book. With gold-flecked grass, ferns and flax as far as the eye can see, you really could be excused for thinking you’ve somehow arrived in Aotearoa – fortunately for us though, this was 100% Sri Lanka.
One of the Best Views in Sri Lanka
If there’s one thing you visit World’s End for, it’s the spectacular views out over the surrounding valley and mountains. Though this beautiful country is anything but short of great hiking tracks, World’s End is accessable to most people making it a great choice for holiday-makers.
The track itself completes a loop and can be approached from either side. From the entrance, Mini World’s end (which is practically as beautiful as the main attraction) and World’s End is a 4km walk, at which point you continue through to Baker’s Falls (2km) and meander back to the start (3.5km). All in all, the circuit is 9km of absolute beauty.
It is worth noting that the sheer cliffs of Horton Plains lack railing. Though hikers benefit from incredible unobstructed views that would be roped off elsewhere, you’ll need to keep an eye on how close you get to the edge. With drops of 300 and 1,200 metres respectively, few people who come unstuck live to tell the tale.
Hiking World’s End – How Challenging is it?
Though Adam’s Peak is considered the most recognised hike in Sri Lanka, World’s End, its lesser known companion, is frequently recognised as the best one around… plus it’s a whole lot more manageable thanks to its relatively flat profile.
The hike itself is absolutely gorgeous and not particularly challenging.
Don’t get me wrong, this hike isn’t a walk in the park but if you have a moderate level of fitness, you’ll complete it without any problems. Even if you’re totally lacking fitness, you’ll still be fine – just take your time and consider skipping the walk down to the falls.
Let’s Get Practical – What You Need to Know…
Though hiking boots wouldn’t go astray, World’s End is certainly manageable in trainers and comfortable clothes.
Throw a small bag on your back and whatever you do, remember your camera! If, like us, you have a drone, leave it behind though – they don’t allow them anywhere in the national park.
There is a small shop that sells snacks and drinks at the end of the hike but the Sri Lankan sun can be strong and though the walk isn’t particularly challenging you’ll still want to be well prepared. We took a couple of water bottles each and some fruit to snack on… and then stopped by the shop for some celebratory roti and fizzy when we were done!
This national park is keen to protect its gorgeous wildlife as best they can and for this reason you’ll be made to disguard any unnecessary plastic before you start the hike. You can save time by leaving anything you don’t need in the car (including the plastic labels wrapped around your water bottle).
To get into World’s End you will need to pay the entrance fee which is approximately 3000 Sri Lankan rupees (or USD20). It’s not the cheapest of days by the time you pay for your ticket and transport (which we’ll talk more about below) but it’s absolutely worth it – presuming you’re not travelling on a budget, that is.
You’ll want to plan your route and timing around what you want to see out at World’s End too. Not far into the walk you’ll be faced with the choice of turning left or right – left takes you to Mini World’s End first whereas a right turn will direct you to Baker’s Falls. Both routes come with their own adventages and disadvantages but we’d recommend starting with Mini World’s End to ensure you get there before the mist sets into the vally.
Clear, unobstructed views out from the cliff-faces normally show themselves between 6am and 10am but as with everything in nature, there are no guarantees. As a general rule though, the earlier you can make it out there, the more likely you are to be rewarded with clear views (though if you ask me, mist engulfing the valley would be pretty amazing too!)
Getting to Horton Plains
World’s End is smack-bang in the middle of a national park and because of this, normal cars are not insured to drive the roads. This means that you’ll probably need to hire a local van or tuk tuk to get you into the starting point of the track.
Our departure time was bright and early in a bid to beat some of the crowds and the harsh midday sun. Though we had planned to leave town at 5am, our drive to Nuwara Eliya took longer than expected and we connected with our driver just before 6am.
If you’re able to be in Nuwara Eliya closer to our scheduled time of 5am, we’d definitely recommend it. Yes you’ll have a hard time getting out of bed but it will be worth it to have the amazing lookouts to yourself!
Though we were originally a little hesitant to scrap our planned hike up Adam’s Peak in favour of World’s End, we could not have been happier with our decision.
Horton Plains was drop-dead gorgeous, an enjoyable, manageable walk and lets visitors have a little taste of New Zealand (without the hassle and expense of flying half way around the world).
It’s certainly worth juggling your Sri Lankan itinerary to swing by Horton Plains!
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