Is the hike to World’s End worth it?

11th May 2017
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One of the reasons I knew I would love Sri Lanka is because of its Hill Country; a beautiful area famed for its miles and miles of tea plantations and its abundance of great walking tracks. After exploring the ancient cities north of Kandy, I couldn’t wait to experience the nature of the hills – and hiking is one of my favourite ways to do so.

After leaving Dalhousie, where we had climbed Adam’s Peak, the next stop on our itinerary was Nuwara Eliya. This is a small town hidden in the green of the high country, surrounded by tea.

Our main reason for visiting Nuwara Eliya was to hike to the place that everyone seemed to be talking about: World’s End.

With such a name, we weren’t sure what to expect of World’s End. Would we be hiking to the edge of a cliff, unable to see the ground below? Or perhaps we’d be hiking into an endless fog, so thick we wouldn’t be able to see our feet? We had heard from other travellers what a great place this was, so we were eager to hike to World’s End ourselves.

Now that I can say “been there, done that”, was the hike to World’s End worth it?

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The hike to World’s End

Situated in the depths of Horton Plains National Park, World’s End is the name of a viewpoint along a 9km loop track through the forest and across the plains of a wildlife conservation area. The Park is rich with birdlife and endemic species such as samba deer and leopards – before we reached the entrance we saw three sambar deer! The best time to do the hike is in the early morning: firstly, so you aren’t walking in the heat of the sun, and secondly, because the view from World’s End is covered in a thick mist after 9am.

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Before starting the walk, there’s a toilet block (cost: 20Rs each) and a place to buy food and drinks. Then you pass through security; your bags are checked for plastic which is thrown away and replaced with paper. I loved this concept as I’m all for protecting the environment and discouraging non-biodegradable litter (and littering full stop) – particularly in places that are rich in biodiversity and also popular with tourists. Unfortunately, the checks weren’t particularly thorough; our re-sealable bag containing the sun cream wasn’t taken. Obviously we weren’t going to litter in the park but you never know what others will do.

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The hike starts by walking towards a fork in the road which is where the loop begins. Most people choose to turn left and walk to World’s End first. The track is well-graded for the entire loop and is signposted so you won’t get lost. After walking over some rocks, many of which are red in colour, the path leads through the trees before reaching the first lookout: Mini World’s End. The view from here is surprisingly breath-taking considering the ease of the hike to reach this point.

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Continuing along the route, a friendly pup decided to be our guide. He walked with us until we reached World’s End, stopping if we stopped, and only keeping a few metres ahead of us. The track continued through the trees; it isn’t strenuous though I would advise good walking shoes as the ground is uneven.

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We arrived at World’s End after about half an hour of walking. The views weren’t what I expected, but they were truly beautiful. The hills seem to appear as layers, one on top of the other, as far as the eye could see. I noticed the small towns in the valley below, slowly waking up for the day. The viewpoint was understandably busy with tourists, all hoping to snap a great photo (we did the same). We had a banana and put some sun cream on; even at 7:30am the sun was strong.

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The rest of the loop track

I was surprised to see some people turning back on themselves at this point; I can only assume they had busy days ahead of them and needed to get back to Nuwara Eliya. We continued along the loop track. The walk trespassed the plains out in the open. There’s no protection from the heat of the sun for this part of the hike so I’m glad we chose to put sun cream on beforehand. We spotted many lizards lurking in the plants but no leopards unfortunately.

Baker Falls is signposted from the main route and is well worth a stop. A series of steps descend to a platform where there’s a good viewpoint. It’s a small waterfall where the falls run over the rocks, but it’s a gorgeous spot and was mostly shaded in the early morning. We lingered for a while to snap some photos and rest our feet.

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After this, the track became slightly more difficult with a gentle incline through the trees, before flattening out again as we reached more open plains and an artificial waterfall. We arrived back at the start of the track after about 3 hours – including rest stops and photo opportunities (we take ages!!)

Overall it was an enjoyable walk showcasing some beautiful scenery in a protected area of Sri Lanka. There’s an information centre at the start of the track which advises about all of the species found in the park; it could do with some updating but is a worthwhile stop.

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It sounds great – what’s the catch?

Unfortunately, Horton Plains isn’t possible to reach on public transport. In fact, the only way to get to the National Park is by car or tuk tuk (but, having done the journey myself, I wouldn’t recommend taking a tuk tuk).

Most guesthouses can arrange transport to Horton Plains for you; usually a car is around 4000Rs for a return journey (including waiting time while you walk) and a tuk tuk is 500Rs or so less. Some providers are happy for you to split that cost between multiple passengers, others charge extra per additional person. Our driver assured us that this was a fixed price per journey so we hoped that the other guests in the guesthouse would want to join us; unfortunately, they had other plans.

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On top of paying the equivalent of two nights’ accommodation for our transport, the admission fee to the National Park itself is considerably steep. Sri Lanka is generally quite a cheap country where it’s easy to travel on a relatively low budget, however admission prices to sites and attractions appear to be incredibly inflated. Below is a copy of our admission ticket to Horton Plains National Park.

Horton Plains Ticket

As you can see, the price is calculated quite complicatedly. The admission for one foreign adult is 2175Rs (Foreign Adults x2: 4350Rs). You also have to pay for your driver (Local Adult: 60Rs) to enter the park and to take in the vehicle (125Rs). Additionally, there is a fixed service charge (per group or ticket) of 1160Rs, and finally VAT is charged at 12% of the total (854.25Rs in our case). Entrance to Horton Plains cost us a total of 6549.25Rs for two people (we actually paid 6550Rs to the ticket office).

In total, we spent 10,550Rs (about $70 USD) on our trip to World’s End.

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So is it worth it?

As a budget backpacker, I’m going to say no.

The hike itself is enjoyable, and the view from World’s End is beautiful. You also have the opportunity to visit one of Sri Lanka’s most famous nature conservation areas and may be lucky enough to spot some of the endemic wildlife. I knew before we decided to do the hike that it would be expensive, but I didn’t realise just how pricey it would be!

I do agree there should be an admission fee to enter the National Park, and I even support that foreigners are charged a higher rate than locals to visit. But the admission prices alone (without the added payments for car, driver, service charge and VAT) are steep. Comparatively, Sigiriya costs 4500Rs per person ($30 USD), the Cave Temples of Dambulla cost 1500Rs per person (10 USD) and Polonnaruwa costs 3750Rs per person ($25 USD). This puts Horton Plains up there on a pedestal being more expensive than some of Sri Lanka’s most popular sights.

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Then you have the issue of paying for transport to the National Park, which is clearly exploited as companies and guesthouses realise that tourists have no alternative to reach Horton Plains. The cost of this wouldn’t sting as sore if you are renting your own vehicle for your trip in Sri Lanka and can drive yourself there. Public transport routes would greatly benefit the park, perhaps even increasing visitors as the trip would be a lot more affordable.

All in all, I cannot justify paying $70 USD for us to do the hike to World’s End. Bear in mind that our combined daily budget in Sri Lanka was about $50 USD (for two people!).

Perhaps it’s just me. My friends Sarah and Nathan over at Exploring Kiwis absolutely loved the hike to World’s End, so I feel a little bad that I think differently.

Perhaps James and I have been spoilt by living in New Zealand, where hikes with astounding views are available all over the country for free. I also didn’t think it helped that we had done the incredible Adam’s Peak just two days before going to World’s End. So, although the views of World’s End and the loop track are gorgeous, to me, it doesn’t seem worth the money or the hassle of arranging private transport to reach.

I won’t tell you not to do it, but if you’re thinking of visiting Horton Plains, be aware that it’s not really a ‘budget’ activity and you too may question whether it’s worth the price.

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Still want to do it? Here’s some useful info:

How to get to Nuwara Eliya:

By train:

By bus:

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Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya:

I won’t recommend the place we stayed as it was very damp. Here’s a few recommendations from the Lonely Planet:

You can browse all properties in Nuwara Eliya using the booking form below, or perhaps you might like to try AirBnB? Sign up here to get £30 off your first booking.

Total cost of the trip for two people: 10,550 Rs

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Have you hiked to World’s End? What did you make of it?

Thanks for reading and happy hiking!

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13 responses to “Is the hike to World’s End worth it?”

  1. […] things to do in Nuwara Eliya is to visit the nearby Hortons Plains National park and walk till the World’s End to see an amazing view. You can also see the famous Baker Falls here but please keep in mind that […]

  2. Hiking is an amazing activity, Abbi! This seems like a worthwhile hike for me!

  3. gallivantingus says:

    Hey! Great post, it kinda helped me make my decision on whether or not to go. As a long term backpacker on a budget I really can’t afford to pay that much for a few hours of hiking, let alone be squeezed by the nuts when it comes to food and accom because business take advantage of the access limitations. And also no drones in national parks is always a bummer!

    I;ve subscribed to your blog, look forward to hearing more! Check mine out if you like, soon to be posting about my current adventure in Sri Lanka!

  4. E says:

    Hello and thanks a lot for your post! We are travelling in a couple of weeks to Sri Lanka. We are renting a car in Colombo and we are not sure whether to go for Hortons Plains or Little Adam’s Peak (we don’t have time for Adam’s Peak). Would you have any suggestion for us? Thanks in advance!

    • Hey! I’d suggest to go to Horton Plains if you have your own transport. But if you are choosing between going there or going to Ella, I think Ella is better – you can do Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock, both of which are good hikes and neither take more than a few hours. The town of Ella is nice. Enjoy, whichever you decide!

  5. Bob Rouse says:

    Great advise. We were in two minds to do the hike, but seeing the costs I think we would rather spend our money elsewhere.

  6. Tunali says:

    Hi Abigail

    Would you know anything about hiking in June? It’ll be monsoon time in the Hill Country. I hope trails are not shut to visitors then…


    • Hi Tunali,
      Sorry I’m not sure. The weather in Sri Lanka can change quite quickly and the seasons are different in different areas of the island. June is not so good for the beaches in the south but for the ancient cities and the hill country you should be okay. I would contact the office there if possible and ask about the Worlds End hike, as it’s in Horton Plains National Park. They might be able to give you more info – sorry I’m not able to!

  7. o fernando says:

    You pur Rs. Before the price not after it! (Rs.4000)

    I know because I’m Srilankan.

  8. o fernando says:

    Sorry its put not ‘pur’ in the above comment!

  9. Emma says:

    I really really loved the hike, but didn’t realize it was so expensive ! (I had booked try entire trip through an agency, so didn’t get to see the details of it all. Although the hike is beautiful, I agree that it is a bit much to pay ….

  10. There’s so much more to see in Horton Plains than just doing the worlds end hike, Two of the highest mountains in Sri Lanka are in this National Park, there’s loads to see here.

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I’m a travel-loving sustainability advocate, on a journey to live a low-impact lifestyle alongside seeing the world. I’m obsessed with my two dogs, secondhand shopping, and growing vegetables.