At the unsociable hour of 05.30 we were collected from our hotel for the drive to the Horton Plains National Park, a high plateau and the World’s End Walk where the plateau stops abruptly. Clouds can roll in from 10.00 and at a height of 2,000m, views are obliterated. We had bought entrance tickets (US$20 each), eaten our packed ‘breakfast’ and were walking by 07.30. It was still very cold and fellow hikers were wrapped up in hats, gloves, thick anoraks etc. Just like being at home at this time of year with mists and heavy dew.
The hike is a circular 9km and was busy with walkers, the more so later in the day especially as many Chinese tourists were on holiday celebrating their New Year. World’s End is a 780 metre sheer cliff, offering spectacular views and on a really clear day it is possible to see the sea – we didn’t, even though we were blessed with cloudless skies.
By 8.30 we were thankfully warming up and in T-shirts and walking our way to Mini World’s End with its look out point and on to World’s End proper where we admired the undeniably breathtaking scenery from the viewing platform. But unfortunately the idyll was shattered in seconds. Having moved away from the unfenced edge to go and sit on some rocks, we heard female screams, as a young Dutchman on honeymoon fell over the edge. A bush broke his fall about 50-60 metres down, and he could be heard by his distraught wife and friends, but could not be seen. We were obviously extremely relieved to learn later that evening he held on for the next 3.5 hours until he was finally rescued by the army and helicopter. A very lucky man indeed, and the first person to survive such a fall there. The incident was widely reported in the international media at the time.
In reflective mood we continued our walk looping back across the plain to Baker’s Falls, and then to our driver and van to take us back to Nuwara Eliya in time for lunch.
The Verdict: good exercise and spectacular views in clear air and sunshine.