A visit to UNESCO Sinharaja RainforestBack
Surrounded by bruised clouds and spectral mists, the enigmatic Sinharaja Rain Forest is the last remaining virgin tropical rain forest on the island. This mysterious and beautiful UNESCO World Heritage forest spreads out over an area of just 34 square miles, but is alive with life, colour, and sound. Home to a vast range of rare and endangered trees in addition to an abundance of endemic birds, reptiles, and mammals, Sinharaja is a treat for naturalists. The larger of Sinharaja’s resident mammals are leopards and elephants, both of which have been confirmed to be living within the forest reserve. Sightings are extremely rare, however you may come across their tracks. More common sights are giant squirrels, monkeys, chameleon lizards, wrinkled frogs and non-venomous snakes. There are also many nocturnal residents in the forest that are usually only seen at night such as mongoose, civets and bats. Perhaps one of the most talked about and notorious resident, however, is the leech. Leeches thrive in Sinharaja and leech bites are extremely common but quite harmless.
The only way to enter Sinharaja is on foot, accompanied by a national guide. The reserve can be entered from three different sides, but the more common entrance is via Deniyaya, a small and dusty town on the edge of the rain forest. The guide will take your on a trek through the lush vegetation of the Sinharaja floor, explaining the importance of the rain forest to Sri Lanka’s ecosystem and helping you to uncover the diversity of the area. Depending on which side you enter the forest, there may also be an option to swim in a fresh water lake underneath a waterfall. The walk itself can be adjusted to suit your needs but will usually take around 3 hours. It’s a beautiful walk with plenty to see, however the paths can be quite muddy and slippy and weather conditions can also be erratic in the off-season.