South east of Colombo, approximately 160km inland, is the lush, tropical Sinharaja Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a biodiversity hotspot considered as the last viable area of primary, tropical rainforest in the country. This unique wildlife reserve is for those who are keen on bushwalks to explore the rare species of tropical rainforests.
Sixty percent of the animals in Sinharaja Rainforest are endemic whilst most are rare. The rainforest covers an area of 11,200 hectares, which is relatively small. In this small space an interesting array of endemic species including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals coexist. This is one of the few protected reserves where a walking safari is possible. Due to the dense vegetation, animals cannot be sighted easily. Interestingly, you are likely to come across the amazing sightings of mix feeding flocks or bird waves in action where insectivorous birds of different species get together for feeding. At Sinharaja Rainforest these flocks are led by its fearless Sri Lanka crested drongo, who is endemic to the country. This virgin rainforest receives rain throughout the year from both south western and north eastern monsoons resulting in thick vegetation and is particularly undisturbed.
This is the home to an impressive 26 species of endemic birds including red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie. The lush, green forest hosts an interesting range of reptiles, mostly endemic, including the Sri Lankan green pit viper and the hump-nosed viper. Amphibians such as the tree frogs thrive in these climatic conditions. The wrinkled frog is one of the interesting sights here. Endemic butterflies and leeches are plentiful. The most amount of rain fall is recorded between May to July, however throughout the year the forest receives rainfall. It is hard to find large mammals although some records indicate the movements of elephants. The most sought after mammal at Sinharaja Rainforest is the rare and endemic purple-faced langur. One of the interesting features of this forest is its co-existence and close proximity to human beings.
There are dozens of villages along the border, especially on the south, and some large estates border the north. The locals use the forest in a sustainable manner to collect edible fruits and herbs for medicine. Pristine water that flows through the forest is the main source of water for some of the small villages. Some of the locals trek through the forest from the south to the north on their annual pilgrimage. A number of walking safaris and treks can be done at Sinharaja Rainforest. Walks can be curtailed for moderate fitness levels while longer, challenging trails are also an option. Nevertheless, there are trails for everyone. The most commonly used entrance point is Kudawa Conservation Centre (KCC) and the lesser-used entrance is referred to as Pitadeniya.
The walking trail crossing the northern and southern boundaries is well preferred by ardent travellers. This trail leads to the peak of Sinhagala, a large rock. It begins with an easy path that leads into the dense forest through varied terrains. The climb to the peak of Sinhagala is the most challenging part of the trail, yet doable, and worth the panoramic views from the summit. The distance of this trek can be tailored to between 18-22km and takes roughly 7 hours/the entire day to complete and requires walkers to be in good physical condition. An experienced local guide accompanies travellers on this trail and all other trails. Accommodation options are very few here, apart from a couple of modest lodges. Trekking in Sinharaja Rainforest is ideally done en route from Udawalawe National Park and Galle Fort. It is best to keep a minimum of 2 nights to explore the rainforest and to enjoy the area.
Here are sample itineraries for wildlife tours of Sri Lanka featuring Sinharaja Rainforest reserve. Click below to read more about trails and trekking in Sinharaja or get in touch to receive a detailed, tailor-made itinerary.
Amazing trip! We absolutely loved it. Sri Lanka is now a country we would definitely like to go back to and explore further.Thank you so much for all the work you did in putting the trip together for us. It was a great mix of places for us to get a good feel of the country. We will be encouraging all our friends to go to Sri Lanka.