Sri Lanka is covered in forestation for about 30% and is a tropical country that boasts many forest reserves, national parks, and such however even among them Sinharaja forest reserve takes a very special place. The Sinharaja is colloquially known as the lungs of the island nation as it is believed to produce large quantities of Oxygen.
Sinharaja forest reserve is situated in the Sabaragamuwa province, and it is generally considered to be the last viable primary rainforest area. The forestation in the area is dense, massive, and as expected of tropical rainforest and frequently inbound. This habitat provides the perfect scene for very rich biodiversity, which is exactly what we got. Sinharaja rainforest is full of endemic and in most cases very rare species. Hence perhaps why it has been named as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The endemic species of trees in the rainforest make up about 60% of all tree species there. It also harbors about 50% of all the endemic species of mammals and butterflies and other kinds of insects. The birds also take a special place as many rare and endemic species can be found here, along with many reptiles and amphibians.
As mentioned, the biodiversity in the forest is huge and you could more easily spot animals such as giant squirrels, dusky-striped jungle squirrels, purple-faced monkeys, and torque macaques if you pay enough attention. There are about 26 endemic species of birds in Sri Lanka and if you are a bird enthusiast, consider yourself lucky as out of all the 20 are present here, the list includes species such as red-faced malkoha, Green-billed coucal, blue magpie, and Sri Lankan spurfowl.
The Sinharaja rainforest as it is implied from the name and as previously mentioned is a rainforest and hence if you are visiting be prepared to be wet and bring a jacket along with you, the time period from January to April the rain is light and hence a much better time to go. Long trousers and if possible waterproof shoes would serve you well, and take precautions for leeches as there are many of them lying around the little suckers.
Briefly, it is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and if you are one, and in Sri Lanka, this is the one place that is a “must” in terms of going. It also caters well for someone to just enjoy nature for a bit. The site is not mountainous, hence one does not have to hike. The roads are relatively wide and vary in length, the walk is not physically taxing, you can decide how much time and energy you want to spend.
There are many lodging places nearby, hence you are not shy of options, check the reviews and choose a place for your liking. If you are driving there, the fastest route is to take the Southern highway, take the exit right after the Welipanna service station reach Horawala from Aluthgama-Mathugama road, then take the following route to Polgampola, then Meegahathenna, Thiniyawala, Neluwa, Warukandeniya and continue through Dellawa Lankagama road until you reach your destination. If you take public transportation the bus will be the best option as there aren’t many significant railway lines.
Sinharaja is a world heritage as much as it is a Sri Lankan heritage, so be responsible when visiting and enjoy the nature.