In a mist swathed plateau high in the mountains, gnarled trees stand out like ancient sentinels over swaying grasslands that appear to vanish seamlessly into the clouds. The chill air and the whistling gusts of wind deepen the sense of mystery – the feeling of entering a wilderness beyond time. Horton Plains National Park is a protected reserve in the central highlands covered in montane grassland and cloud forest. At an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) it is the highest plateau in Sri Lanka and ends dramatically with the sudden sheer drop of 870 m (2,854 ft) aptly named World’s End. Embracing legend and cloud in equal measure, this astounding cliff drop offers the most spectacular views on a clear day. Rich in biodiversity with many endemics within the reserve, the plains are home to myriad bird species, herds of Sambur deer, bear monkeys and the elusive leopard. Three major rivers of Sri Lanka – Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe also begin their journey from this upland and cascading waterfalls – including the famed Baker’s Falls also provide worthy distractions to those who seek to explore and immerse themselves in the misty wonderland of Horton Plains.

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