Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja means ‘lion’s kingdom’, even though there aren’t any lions in it and is surrounded by rivers, lakes and tea estates. It covers an area of 8,864 hectares and ranges in altitude from 300m to 1,170m in the south western lowland wet zone area bordering Galle, Matara and Ratnapura districts of Sri Lanka. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich and unique biodiversity. In order to be considered a tropical reserve it satisfies the three criteria of bright sunlight, a rainfall of 3000-6000 mm throughout the year and a climate of high temperature which makes it humid when all three factors are put together. It allows you to enjoy nature at its best with their many mountains, animals, rivers and waterfalls.
There are three entrances to the Sinharaja forest; Kudawa entrance which is most commonly used, and less common Pitadeniya entrance and Morning side entrance. From Kudawa Conservation Centre there are two trails that you can take, one that leads to Mulawella which is 2.4 km and takes approximately 1-2 hours and the other that leads to the peak of Sinhagala which is also 2.4 km in length but steeper and takes around 5-7 hours, both best hiked between December and April.
It provides home to over 60% of all endemic species in Sri Lanka, both flora and fauna and thus is a main source of attraction for many tourists and local crowd. There are endemic species of mammals such as giant squirrel, badger mongoose and purple faced Langur and also rare animals such as Indian elephants and leopards. The reserve also has a rich birdlife of indigenous birds such as Ceylon Hanging Parrot, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Layard’s parakeet, Jungle fowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon and blue magpie and is ideal for bird watching. There are also endemic reptiles such as Green pit vipers and hump nosed vipers and amphibians like tree frogs. But because of thick vegetation unlike a national park the wild life may not be visible easily.
Sinharaja rainforest Sri Lanka has two types of forests, one which occurs in the valleys and their slopes called Dipterocarpus and the other type is a secondary forest which has replaced the original forests due to shifting cultivation. There are also tea and rubber plantations. The reserve’s vegetation can be categorized in to trees, shrubs, herbs and woody climbers. It contains plants of economic value such as palm Kitul which is used to make jaggery, a substitute for sugar, spices like Cardamom, Wewal for cane industry, and Weniwal for medicinal purposes. Also endemic flora such as Loxococcus rupicola and Atalantia rotundifolia are seen here.
Because it is such an important resource of the country and the world, it is maintained well and ill behavior and destruction of its nature is punished severely, so one must abide to the rules and take responsibility to protect this heritage when visiting. It would be the perfect place to visit for a nature enthusiast but beware of the inevitable leeches!
|Best Time to Visit||Morning|
|Time taken for a visit (roughly)||4 - 5 Hours|
The rainforest Eco Lodge near the Sinharaja Rainforest can accommodate tourists, it can be reached from Colombo or the Bandaranaike international Airport. Bird watching, trekking, natural trails can be done from this location.