The locals refer the plains as Maha Eliya Thenna. However, during the colonial era, the plains were renamed Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton who took the trail through the plains to visit the local administrative officer. Excavation during this period had led to the discovery of relics dating back millions of years, consequently establishing the importance of the plains in history related to human evolution.
Forming a plateau of over 200 m over in height, Horton Plains undergoes heavy rainfall during the Southwest Monsoon season. The climate is essentially cool and trekkers can frequently experience weather conditions such as gale and mist. The plains are filled with pools and waterfalls, and is said to host the largest watershed in Sri Lanka. In addition, the main rivers of Sri Lanka Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe stems from the Horton Plains.
Enhancing its breath-taking ambience, Horton Plains maintains a unique bio diversity that has fascinated the nature loving traveller. A variety of flora including selected bamboo species, grasses and flowers can be found here. Wild life enthusiasts take special interest in Horton plains due to the significant magnitude of fauna in the plains. Delighting sightseers, the Sri Lankan Sambar Deer roams in graceful freedom here. In addition to this, keen explorers catch a glimpse of various feline species such as the rusty spotted cat, fish cat and the celebrated Sri Lankan leopard.
An extraordinary sanctuary for bird watchers, the plains are home to 21 bird species. The blue magpie, dull-blue flycatcher, and endemic birds such as the yellow-fronted barbet, orange-billed babbler, and Sri Lanka bush warbler can be spotted by lucky watchers.
Travellers who wish to discover the plains in all its scenic wonders have the option of camping here. The plains maintain three camping sites near the banks of Belihul Oya provide for the idyllic camping experience ever. However, to camp at Horton Plains, travellers would have to first contact the wildlife department for reservation and availability.