Today we woke up at 4:30am to hit the road at 5am. We were terrified that it would be raining as we woke up, but were happy to find out that it was just misting. This area is covered in potato farms and logging fields. It is really sad to see all the old growth trees they are harvesting.
Today was our 4 hour nature walk in Horton Plains National Park in Ohiya. Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. We were told it is reminiscent of Scotland.
The drive to Horton Plains National Park was a wonder unto itself. We watched the sun rise over a misty landscape with twists and turns everywhere in the road. Our guide told us that later in the day, public buses would go up this road bringing local residents to the park, so they can enjoy the park on the weekend. Its hard to imagine buses going up these roads.
When we got to the top of the summit, to the entrance to the park, it was a crazy wall of clouds. The wind was moving the clouds so fast, that we were sure that it must be freezing cold outside, and was not looking forward to the prospect of another damp walk. Much to our delight, once we bought our tickets and drove into the park to the parking lot, the clouds had cleared out and it became a beautiful day. Our guide explained that due to the height of the summit, the winds moved quickly and the weather changed quickly too. Our guide also warned us that once we got into the park we had the option of turing left or right at the first fork. Apparently the maority of the tourists go to the left, which means at the end of your 4 hour high you have to climb a large hill of stairs. If you go to the right, then at the end of your hike you have a leisurely walk to the finish.
This park is beautiful. The colours pop when the sun is out since everything up here is kept damp by the cloud forest. When you are first on the path, there is a weird cobble stone pathway (seen above) but that disappears after the first hill. At the top of the first hill, you get to the famous fork in the road. We went to the right. Which led us down a grand staircase. Ok – its not grand and not quite a staircase, you can walk 2-3 steps on each stair before climbing down a step. And some of the steps down are more like jumps down, but as you are climbing down you can take in the view and you see your first water fall.
Once you get to the waterfall you have a fairly steep climb up the hill. The view at the top of the hill is worth it, but this climb is on mud rocks, so wear good shoes, and take your time. It was defiantly at this point that we decided we were glad to do all this climbing at the beginning of our hike, while we still had energy. As you will see in a lot of our photos, I am carrying a paper bag. When we entered the park, the park rangers checked our breakfast and took out anything plastic. They then gave us a paper bag to carry our lunches around in. This was because the litter from tourists was killing the deer population here.
Once we got to the top of the hill, the terrain flattened out to what I call fern valley (above). This picture is actually really close to the vibrant colours we were seeing. Once we passed through this valley, we got to a forested part, where we actually saw our second waterfall. This was a large waterfall, Bakers Falls, but I feel that you can’t really appreciate it for what it is, since you are really close to it. (right)
After that you talk downhill through the forest. This was a steep climb down, so again we were happy we were not climbing up. And we eventually got to another clearing that led to World’s End. As we were passing through the clearing (and walking along a path that looking like it had recently been a creek) we noticed that the clouds were coming down behind us. It actually was amazing seeing this wall of clouds chasing us. It looked rather threatening. We got covered in fog and was quite disappointed to have our first look of World’s End, be covered in clouds. But as our guide had told us, the weather up here changes quickly, if the weather is bad, wait five minuets. We did and it cleared up completely.
World’s End is a sheer precipice with a 870 m (2,854 ft) drop (right). Another cliff known as the Lesser World’s End of 270 m (886 ft) is located not far from World’s End (above). We saw both. I liked the Lesser World’s End, because it was way less busy. So we sat here for a while, eating our breakfast. From this point it is about 40 minuets walk to the entrance of the park. So we headed that way. On our trip we saw very little wild life, I think because we were here so early. We saw 2 lizards. On our way out of the park in our car, we saw a Samba deer. But that was all. From Horton Plains National Park we drove to the cloud hotel.