The archaeological and historical heritage of Horton Plains National Park
Location The park lies approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Nuwara Eliya in the highlands of the Central province. Horton Plains, the surrounding forests and the adjoining Peak Wilderness constitute Sri Lanka’s most important catchment area, of almost all major rivers. The plains are of outstanding scenic beauty and conservation importance, containing most of the habitats and endemic plants and animals representative of the country’s wet and montane zones. The western slopes support the most extensive area of montane cloud forest surviving in the country. Access Horton Plains can be reached by any of the following routes: Via Nuwara Eliya, Ambewela, Pattipola (20 miles/32 km); Haputale or Welimada, Boralanda, Ohiya (24 miles/38 km); Nuwara Eliya, Hakgala, Rendapola, Ambewela, Pattipola (24 miles/38 km). Adventurous visitors can trek into the park along the Thalawakele-Agarapatana-Diyagama and the Belihul Oya-Nagarak trails. Climate Annual rainfall in the region is about 2,540 mm, but may exceed 5,000 mm on the plains. 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 of 150C, and ground frost is common during December-February. Cultural Heritage Stone tools dating back to the prehistoric Balangoda culture have been found in the area. The Sinhalese settled in the lowlands up to an altitude of 700 m, sometimes frequenting higher altitudes to mine for gems or iron ore, graze cattle, construct irrigation canals and fell trees for timber. Several patanas existed at that time in regions above 1,800 m. Visitors and Visitor Facilities The overnight park accommodation, though limited, caters to different preferences. Two separate dormitories (Wana Niwahana), also set in tranquil nature, serve visitors coming in groups. Several camp-sites are available for nature lovers. Horton Plains is well recognized for its rich and unique biodiversity, its flora given to a high level (5%) of endemism, yet remains largely under-explored. Thus it is not merely a destination for nature tourists, but also for those engaged in educational and research activities. This is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where visitors are allowed to walk on their own on the designated tracks. Protecting and preserving this natural wonderland’s unique physical environment is the duty of all. There are three camp sites ( Camp site 1, Camp site 2, Camp site 3) and three Bungalows (Ginihiraya, Mahaeliya, and a Dometry) Reservations at the Head office, Battaramulla. Tel. 011 288 8585
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Updated: November 24th, 2014.
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