Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja is a spectacular natural wonder of thick virgin rainforest, alive with the sounds of birds and animal calls. The area is an inevitable treasure trove of biodiversity and a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. With one of the most impressive bird populations in Sri Lanka and a wealth of mammals and reptiles, Sinharaja is a haven for the intrepid naturalist.
This undisturbed jungle paradise lies in the middle of Sri Lanka’s wet zone, which explains the richness of its flora and fauna. The drier months, which are August and September, and January to early April, are the best times to visit although its possible to go year round if you don't mind a spot of rain. Sinharaja is a very humid area and visitors will feel truly immersed in the Sri Lankan wilderness when walking under the hazy canopy of lush trees. Located on the mountain ridges the dense jungle is a real adventure to trek through, your senses will come alive with the heat, noise and smell of this rainforest that is brimming with life. The walks in Sinharaja are not difficult and almost any ability should be able to tackle them as the paths are quite well trodden.
Wildlife in Sinharaja is bordering on excessive, with an enormous 830 Sri Lankan species to be found in the area. Budding naturalists will be in their element as they trek through the forest identifying exotic ferns, reptiles and insects. Many mammals also live in Sinharaja, the most common being the purple-faced langur monkey, who you can often see swinging high up in the branches, and whose calls can be heard echoing through the trees. Trekking through Sinharaja is not for the faint hearted, as a wide variety of coloured spiders and giant millipedes are often sighted on the trees that line the trails and on the ground. Reptiles are very common in the forest reserve, including some rare snakes and frogs. Even though it is rare, visitors might be lucky enough to catch sight of mammals including leopards and rusty spotted cats.
Sinharaja provides some livelihood for the 22 villages that surround the forest. Villagers come into the forest to tap palms to make treacle and jiggery, which is a hard brown sweet. There is plenty to do other than trekking in the forest and many sensational waterfalls, rivers and lakes offer trekkers with a refreshing swim in their cool clear waters. The stunning Kiruwananaganga falls and the Kolawenigama Temple provide plenty more to see and do.