Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Shrouded in legendary lore and possessing a kaleidoscopic wonder of flora and fauna, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a rainforest in Sri Lanka, that serves to be one of the more important biodiversity hotspots that sustain the unique ecosystems of the country. Although the rainforest is relatively small, it nourishes a great many rivers that bring freshwater to the lowlands, thus resulting in the bountiful harvest of paddy and other agricultural pursuits of the country.

Best Known For

  • Showcasing all its natural splendour, the Sinhagala and Mulawella nature trails have become a treasure trove to the nature lover, boasting of many endemic species of trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
  • Another attraction of the splendid forest reserve is the pure water springs that are fed by some of the major fresh water rivers in the country. Coupled with the serene and tranquil backdrop, bathing in these natural bodies of water often gives a rewarding sensation to anyone that treks the forest.
  • One of the lesser known features of the forest reserve is that it serves to be the perfect hotspot where herbal medicinal plants can be harvested, in order to make ancient Ayurveda products. This can be witnessed by the local villagers trekking the thick vegetation in search of the ingredients.

Interesting Facts

  • The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is believed to have been a dense rainforest that spanned over 100,000 hectares. However, only a glimpse of it can be witnessed today due to mass logging that took place in the 1970s.
  • After much lobbying by conservationists, the authorities imposed strict laws that curbed the act of logging, therefore resulting in being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
  • As a result of the conservation acts, many of the endemic flora and fauna were saved.
  • Presently, the forest is home to 20 of the 26 endemic bird species and also home to 60 per cent of the endemic species of trees in the country. Furthermore, it is home to elephants and leopards too, along with some other reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
  • The name of the rainforest literally translates to ‘Lion (Sinha) King (Raja)’ and is believed to be the origin of the majority Sinhala race in the country.
  • It is also believed that the forest serves as the final resting place of a now extinct Sri Lankan Lion, that once roamed the terrain.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The best time to explore the rainforest is from the months of December to April, when the climate is relatively drier.
  • Tickets can be purchased from the Forest Department offices at Kudawa and Deodawa.
  • Keep in mind that although the forest reserve is opened for visiting from 6.30am to 6.00pm, the ticket offices closes at 4.30pm.
  • Apart from the tickets, there are other mandatory requirements that have to be satisfied.
  • The first being a guide to accompany you, which would cost around LKR 1,000 and upwards.
  • The second is that you would also have to pay an amount of around LKR 560, if you wish to bring your video camera with you.
  • It is also important to be clad in protective clothing since there are a number leeches that can latch on to you, if unprepared.
  • Do not have the right equipment? Ask the guides and they will be more than happy to provide you the necessary anti - leech equipment.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Forest Department, so no polythene and no polluting the surrounding areas.

Although shrunken down to the little sliver we see now, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is paramount for the sustenance of the country’s unique ecosystem and is also a central figure in cultural folklore too. The treks along the nature trails of the forest reserve would certainly be an enchanting experience for anyone.

Title image by: KNOWSL The information displayed is provided by Sinharaja Forest Reserve


December - April


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Nature and Outdoors

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