Sprawling across a large area in the heart of Sri Lanka’s wet zone, Sinharaja forest reserve is a biodiversity hot-spot, home to a wide range of flora and fauna species. Delivered as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, it is accessible only by foot. Owing to the difficulty in accessing it, it did not fall victim to commercial logging. Shrouded by cloudy skies on most days, the reserve is noted for being a treasure trove of endemic species including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and more.
Compared to national parks in dry-zone such as Yala, Sinharaja is not a place where you can easily spot wildlife species. 20 rainforest species out of the country’s 26 endemic birds can be seen here and these include Sri Lanka blue magpie, , green-billed coucal and red-faced malkoha.
Being the last of the island’s tropical lowland rainforests, Sinharaja is bounded by charming rivers on three sides, with Gin Ganga and Maha Dola on the South West and South and Koskulana Ganga and Napola Dola on other sides. A nature lover’s paradise, the rainforest has an ancient footpath to its East.
When it comes to the nature trails of this site: one leads to the peak of Sinhagala and the other to the peak of Moulawella. With their starting point at Kudawa Conservation Centre, both these trails are scenic and enjoyable. The trees in Sinharaja are in close proximity to each other, making the journey across it more exciting. Tranquil streams of crystal clear waters home to species such as crabs, toads and fish crisscross these trails.
To the south-west of the reserve, two villages are located: Kolonthotuwa and Warukandeniya. Mostly visited by naturalists, the site can only be visited by those who obtain an entry permit from the Forest Department in Colombo. There are guidebooks to the trails. Close to the reserve entrance at Kudawa there is some accommodation.
Being the habitat for such a diverse array of flora and fauna, this lowland tropical rain forest is the last of its kind in Sri Lanka. In recognition of its value and significance, National Heritage Wilderness Areas Act has recognized Sinharaja as a national heritage wilderness area.
When it comes to the variety of fauna at Sinharaja there are endemic species. In fact, more than 50% of the island’s endemic fauna species are found in this site. Letting you become one with nature, this enchanting natural attraction is among the country’s most treasured possessions.