Exploring the Lion King
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sinharaja Forest is located in the country’s wet region. Early morning hikes are the best so that you get to explore a few hours before rainfall. In comparison to the other reserves in the world, Sinharaja is not so big however it is truly a fortune in terms of natural resources. You find endemic species including trees, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. The number of elephants and leopards seen here is less than in other national parks in the country, however, the purple-faced langurs make up for that. Bird watching is popular at the reserve since out of the 26 endemic birds in the country, 20 are found here. A variety of reptiles can be seen here including the Green Pit Viper and Hump Nosed Vipers. One thing you need to watch out for, are the clingy leeches!
Travelling to Sinharaja
You can use public transport such as the bus or a train to travel to get there. However, the most convenient way is to rent a car with a driver. Not only will you be able to get down at the entrance of the forest but also it would make life much easier especially for someone unfamiliar with the Lankan roads.
Getting there from Colombo
You can reach Sinharaja from three access points. From Colombo the easiest route is to travel through Horana– Mathugama road then enter the forest through the entrance point in Kudawa.
Getting there from Southern Coast
If you are coming from the south of the country you can go to Deniyaya and enter the forest through the Pitadeniya entrance point which is on the southern end of the rainforest.
East end entrance
There is also an entrance from Suriyakanda to enter the forest from the east side of the forest.
The Sinharaja experience
There is only one way to enter the forest, which is on foot. You need to be accompanied by a national guide when entering. There are three entrances to the forest and the most commonly used one is via Deniyaya. The guide will give you an in-depth explanation of the forest’s ecosystem and help you unveil its beauty. Depending on which side you enter the forest, you may have the option of swimming in a freshwater lake below the waterfall. The trek can be customised according to your needs and fitness level. The paths can get muddy and slippery especially during the offseason.
Top things to do in Sinharaja
Trekking is the best way to explore Sinharaja. The best time to start your trek is early morning from 6.30 to 7 am. Within 5 – 6 hours, you can easily cover the important areas of the forest. As a biodiversity hotspot, the forest has a lot of interesting fauna and flora. Sinharaja is a treasure trove for endemic species and you can look forward to seeing birds, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and insects of all sorts during your trek. The most commonly seen primate is the purple-faced leaf monkey, you can also expect to see mouse deer, barking deer, brown mongoose, and golden palm civet. Your jackpot would be to see a leopard, which is very seldom sighted.
After a long trek, you can enjoy a nice picnic on the green bed next to a stream of sinuous water. Many wildlife enthusiasts are highly taken up by this experience.
Sinharaja is a birdwatchers’ paradise. Bird enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to during their trip. Out of the 28 endemic birds in the country, almost 20 can be found in Sinharaja including the elusive Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Red-faced Malkoha and Green-billed Coucal.
Best time to visit
There is frequent rainfall in Sinharaja. There is less precipitation from January to April and August to September, which are the dry seasons.
Top tips when travelling to Sinharaja
- Invest in a high-quality camera, Sinharaja is stunning and you will regret not capturing it
- Carry sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat or cap
- Mosquito and insect repellent will come in handy
- Wear leech socks!
- Be hydrated but don’t drink too much since there aren’t toilets inside the forest unless you are ok to hide behind a bush
- Wear comfortable clothes and footwear
Adventure Lanka offer licensed guides on all their tours.