The Sinharaja Forest reserve, a World Heritage Site, is the last remaining primary tropical rainforest in the wet zone of Sri Lanka which the country can boast of. It spans over an area of 11,250 hectares of forest land. The elevation of the forest expands from 90 to 1170 meters from sea level, presenting a large diversity of plant and animal species. More than 60% of vegetation is endemic and many are considered rare.
There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds. This forest reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, several species of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. However, one cannot observe wildlife easily due to the dense vegetation. Commonly sighted animals include the giant squirrel, dusky-stripped jungle squirrel, purple-faced monkey and torque macaque. The red-faced malkoha, green-billed caucal, blue magpie and Sri Lankan spur fowl are some of the endemic birds seen within this forest reserve. There are no elephants and one is really fortunate if one can sight one of the 15 or so leopards that live within the reserve. Of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic birds, 20 rainforest species can all be seen here. A variety of wild orchids abound in it.
This ecological importance of the Sinharaja Forest has led the UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Wilderness Area, prompting the world community to preserve this wonderful gift from nature. It forms the catchment area for feeding some of the major rivers in the country. The rivers and streams abound with cold and crystal clear water. Together with the waterfalls found within this rain forest, feasting one’s eyes on such waters is a rare opportunity.
One can enter the Sinharaja forest from Pitadeniya, Suriyakanda or Kudawa in Kalawana with permission from the Forest Department and with a guide provided by the reserve.