There are very few places on earth that could quench the thirst of a nature lover. But we are sure that the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka will give you precisely what you need. So, here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful natural jewel!
Gracefully lying in the southwest region of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the island’s last possible area of primary tropical rainforest. It is also the largest forest reserve in the country with 60% of endemic and rare trees. This is the best place for a nature lover to enjoy the backdrop of the rainforest, birdwatching, go hiking, animal sightseeing and many more!
Without further ado, let us take you on this magical nature trail, enlightening you about the things you should know about the country’s precious Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Let Us Share Some Important Information About The Sinharaja Forest Reserve…
“Sinharaja Forest Reserve”, which translates to “lion king forest reserve” is undoubtedly the king of the forests in the country. It is situated in the southwest lowland wet zone within Sabaragamuwa and the Southern provinces of Sri Lanka.
You will have to travel 90 miles towards the south from the capital city of Colombo to reach this rainforest. Sinharaja Forest Reserve extends over 8800 hectares of land, acting as a biodiversity hotspot and the last viable area of primary tropical rainforest in the country
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1988 and has also been protected as a World Biosphere Reserve since 1978. More than 60% of the trees here are endemic, while many of them are regarded as rare.
There is also much endemic wildlife, especially birds. Also, the reserve provides home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of butterflies and mammals, as well as a variety of reptiles, insects, and rare amphibians.
A Bit From The Rich History Of The Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The earliest record of the history of the Sinharaja forest reserve dates back to the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries when the Kingdom of Kandy existed. The kings who ruled Sri Lanka in that period protected and praised this place as a sacred site and kept it away from human disturbance.
The historical sources say that the forest has been a great source of herbs and folk medicines where many hermits and ascetics lived to make use of these herbal plants. Then during the British colonial period, the Sinharara forest reserve became a significant source of timber for the British Empire.
Even though the trees in the forest contributed a vast amount of timber, some British rulers were concerned about deforestation, and a few officials backed its preservation.
However, the actual conservation of the forest started in the 20th century, and until then, the authorities of Sri Lanka have taken relevant measures to protect this forest reserve. And it greatly helps the scientific studies and ecology experiments going on in Sri Lanka.
How To Get To Sinharaja Forest Reserve?
Like most other times, getting to the Sinharaja forest reserve also depends on your current location in the country. However, it is important to know that the forest can be explored only by foot and if you reach the entrance by a vehicle, you may have to get down by the ticketing office and then continue by foot from there onwards.
There are three main entrances to this forest reserve and the two most common entrances are located in the village of Deniyaya. These two entrances are known as Kurulugala Entrance and Pitadeniya Entrance. The other entrance is based in the village of Kudawa. The Kudawa Entrance is much less crowded than the two starting points mentioned earlier.
However, if you need to get to either of these entrances, you will first have to reach the relevant village- Deniyaya or Kudawa. For this, you can use public transport or private transport. If you come to Deniyaya town by bus, you can take a tuk-tuk or a taxi to get to one of the entrances.
We suggest traveling by private vehicle could be the most convenient so that you can save a lot of time and directly get to the entrance to get to your destination. Whatever entrance you pick, you’ll be provided a national guide to help you explore the forest when you obtain permission to enter the forest. So the tour guide will help you to make your visit a memorable one.
The Unmissable Experience You Can Have In The Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja rainforest is the ideal place to indulge in the country’s ultimate unspoiled natural beauty. This forest reserve has a rich biodiversity with an amazing variety of different species of flora and fauna. We can insist that you’ll never find the most floral species you get to see in this place in any other place in Sri Lanka.
If you’re a devoted nature lover, you will be lost in its beauty and feel like you never want to come out of the place! All kinds of mammals, reptiles, colorful butterflies, insects, and birds will feast your eyes and you can have a great collection of photographs to include in your travel gallery.
Deeper into The Wilderness…
Everywhere around the forest and each nook and corner you place your sight is filled with luscious vegetation. Tall trees, endemic flowers, endangered medicinal plants, shrubs, moss- everything will give you a unique taste of life that you had never experienced before.
The wonderful wildlife will leave you breathless especially if you are a bird photographer! Enchanting birds flying around you will be such eye candy and you might even catch reptiles roaming around harmlessly. You can trek and hike around the forest with your tour guide as he will show you every place you need to see.
Do not forget to explore the beautiful waterfalls and all the other small water bodies in the forest. Dip your feet in ice-cold water to feel nature embracing your soul. You can even take a quick dip in a waterfall, but only if it is safe enough.
Sit on a giant rock boulder and close your eyes for a while to listen to the sounds of the birds, animals, and insects. You will hear the hush of the trees which will be the perfect meditation to detach yourself from the materialistic world!
What Is The Best Time To Visit The Sinharaja Forest Reserve?
Therefore, the best time to head out to this forest reserve would be between January and March and August and September. However, even during this time of the year, you should expect some rainfall at this site. Thus, it is important to be prepared.
What Are The Experiences You Can Have Nearby The Sinharaja Forest Reserve?
As mentioned earlier, you can complete your exploration of the forest reserve within one day. But, if you plan on sticking around for a few more days, here are some places that you can visit:
- Bambaragala Estate Waterfall- Deniyaya
- Patna Viewpoint
- Patna sliding rock
- Biso Ella Waterfall-Deniyaya
- Sathama Elal Waterfall- Deniyaya
- Atha Mal Ella Waterfall- Deniayay
- Ratnapura- to see and buy beautiful gemstones and gem-studded jewelry
If not, you can allocate a few more days ahead to explore the mesmerizing southern coastline. You can travel to Matara and visit some iconic places in that area. Or else, head to Mirissa Beach which will only take about two hours from the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Is Sinharaja Forest Reserve A Safe Place To Travel?
However, still, you need to be concerned if you have kids below 10 years of age as you will be entering a tropical rainforest. Rainfall in Sinharaja is unexpected thus you taking very small kids to explore the forest is not encouraged.
But, if you don’t have any of the concerns mentioned on top, you can make a very educational, inspirational, and secure visit to this forest reserve to witness its charm!
General Tips You Need To Know Before Entering This Forest Reserve…
Since the Sinharaja rainforest area is a very special place in Sri Lanka, there are a few things that you should know before entering the forest reserve. Keeping these things in mind will ensure a safer and more secure visit.
- Dress accordingly- You are about to enter a tropical rainforest which can be wet so it is important to wear suitable clothing. We suggest you wear long, comfortable clothing, a hat/cap, with a good pair of walking boots or thick socks.
- Leech attacks are very common here. Thus, you need to be prepared for it with a leech-repellent solution made by mixing salt, liquid soap, and an antiseptic liquid (they have Dettol in Sri Lanka as the most common brand), with water. Carrying this solution in a spray bottle and spraying it on your opened body parts (avoiding the sensitive areas) will keep the leeches away as much as possible.
- Carry water, an umbrella, a raincoat, and any waterproof gear you think is required.
- Keep your backpack as light as possible since you’ll be trekking a long distance.
- Liquor, plastic, drugs, and indisposable material are strictly prohibited inside the forest reserve. So remember to bring back empty water bottles and anything you take inside the site.
- Maintaining silence and behaving accordingly is important while you explore and observe fauna inside the forest. This way, your visit will be more enjoyable.
- Flash cameras are not allowed inside. You can carry your Zoom cameras and videography equipment to capture beautiful scenes without disturbing the wildlife here.
- Do not splash into the waterfalls or any of the water bodies inside the forest as it could be dangerous. You can ask your tour guide and take a gentle dip in a waterbody he recommends is safe.
- Last but not least, do your own research and learn the nature of tropical rainforests before you enter this site. This will allow you to have the best experience of your lifetime.
For more updated information about Sinharaja Forest Reserve, you can log on to their official website: https://www.sinharajaforestreserve.com/
Where Can You Stay In Sinharaja Forest Reserve?
You will not find any places of accommodation inside the forest but there are some quality lodges that we recommend around this area you can choose to suit your budget and needs. Here’s our list of recommendations:
– Cinnamon Village Sinharaja
– Tea Garden Eco Villas
– Nest Wood Bungalow
– Rainforest Mountain Lodge
– Sinharaja Kurulu Ella Eco Resort
Experience The Timeless Beauty Of Sri Lanka’s Ultimate Rainforest and CaptureThe Best Moments To Your Nature Diary!
If you have already started making your Sri Lanka itinerary, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a place that SHOULD be included at the top of your list! This is a true heaven in the country that provides the breath to its natural sustainability. Hence, make sure you will not miss out on this magical place when you visit the southern part of the country!