Comprising the Knuckles Conservation Forest, Horton Plains National Park and the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, this region of mountains rising 2,500m above the sea level is considered a bio diversity hot spot. It has a remarkable range of flora and fauna providing a habitat for an exceptional range of endemic species.
Horton Plains – Officially declared a National Park in 1988, Horton Plains in the hill country 32km by road from Nuwara Eliya, stretches 3,000ha across the highlands to plunge at World’s End. The Park receives rainfall from both northeast and southwest monsoons as well as inter-monsoonal rains; three main rivers namely Kelani, Walawe and Mahaweli, the longest river of the country, begin in this area.
The plains are popular for trekking and rich in biodiversity with much of the flora and fauna found in the Park being endemic and only found there. Forests are dominated by a range of giant tree ferns and the Park is also famous for flowers and there is wild life aplenty such as leopard, sambhur and wild boar. Though this is a cold highland plateau the bird diversity is very high.
Knuckles Mountain Range – Soaring across 155 square kilometres, containing five of the country’s largest forest formations, the Knuckles Mountain Range features breath taking mountain scenery and rewarding trekking.
The range was named after the folds and peaks that resemble the knuckles of a closed fist, when seen from afar. Knuckles is listed as a World Heritage Site and has rare flora and fauna that cannot be found elsewhere. The special climate and atmospheric conditions are caused by the different altitudes and the range is often covered in thick clouds.
Mountain trails (go with a guide) lead alongside rivers, past flowing waterfalls and dense forest shrubs by sprawling acres of tea, terraced paddy fields and vegetable gardens of village folk. There are several species of endemic birds, adding colour and bird song to this lush hill country wilderness.