The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a hotspot for biodiversity in Sri Lanka. Spanning an area of 18,900 acres, it is one of the last remnants of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rainforests. Sinharaja also has international significance as it is identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is for good reason as it is a place that is filled to the brim with life. From the fungi growing on a fallen tree branch to the leeches that will crawl into your socks -you have been warned!- you cannot escape the magic of life inside Sinharaja.
As this reserve borders three districts of the Island -Galle, Matara, and Ratnapura- it has multiple access ways. If you are starting your journey from Colombo, it would be ideal to use either the Kudawa entrance -via Kalawana- or the Neluwa Side Entrance; via Matugama. Both these entrances are around 130 km from Colombo. If you wish to stay overnight to prolong your explorations of Sinharaja, the Forest Department dormitories will provide you with cheap but quality accommodation.
Green pit viper
Sri Lanka has twelve endemic mammal species and eight are found here. The most common would be the inquisitive Purple-faced langur. As you trek along, you will definitely sight Sambhur deer as well barking deer, known for their unique call. However, consider yourself lucky if you spot the elusive leopard as sightings are extremely rare. Sightings of the slithery kind are quite common; if you can keep your eyes peeled, look out for the green pit viper in particular.
If bird watching is what pleases you, you will be delighted to know that Sinharaja is home to many endemic and migratory birds. Nineteen of Sri Lanka’s twenty endemic species call Sinharaja home. They include hornbills, parrots, parakeets, and of course the Ceylon jungle fowl to name a few. The Red-faced Malkoha and the Sri Lankan Blue Magpie are among the rarest birds sighted at Sinharaja. They really are a treat to observe if you are lucky enough.
Sinharaja is one of Sri Lanka’s most valuable assets and thus has an extremely high conservation value. So do enjoy your time in Sinharaja but always remember, take only photographs and leave nothing but footprints.