The ‘lungs of the planet’ or the rainforests are particularly essential for obvious reasons. Of the scores of adventures and getaways in Sri Lanka, the solitude and the uniqueness of the Sinharaja rainforest is unrivalled. The name ‘Sinharaja’ translates into the Kingdom of the Lion.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, the rainforest is a part of the World Biosphere Reserve since 1978. Sinharaja is situated in the lowlands of the southwestern country. The hilly virgin forest’s dodged commercialisation due to its secluded position on the Sri Lankan map.
Summon the inner wanderer when staying at hotels in Deniyaya because the wildlife dwells in isolated corners of the forest and therefore, not easily accessible for gazing as compared to dry-zone national parks like Yala.
The boundaries of the forest are defined by rivers which is what makes it inaccessible by road. A guide or ranger comes recommended to navigate through unplanned mazes towards mammals that grace the land. The dense vegetation is decorated with the most common purple-faced Langur.
The noisy Orange-billed Babbler and the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (rather fearless) astonishingly lead the movement of mixed feeding flocks. Needless to mention, this is highly unusual and adds a certain charm to the ecosystem of the forest. On the other hand, 20/26 endemic birds are found in this rainforest. These include the Green-Billed Coucal, Sri Lankan Blue Magpie, and the elusive Red-Faced Malkoha.
Reptiles and Insects
The forest area is teeming with leeches and it is always a good idea to wear long trousers and take extra care. About 45 species of reptiles inhabit the area and the green-pit and hump-nosed viper are among the 20 species of endemic reptiles. Moreover, the area is brimful with birdwing butterflies.
Locals and Neighbouring Villages
The reserve is surrounded by dozens of villages situated on the borders, more so on the southern side and larger ones in the north. The forest is a natural basket for them to pick up mushrooms, fruits, nuts and herbs (medicinal). They collect the sugary sap of the local palm tree that is used to make vinegar, jaggery, and a local brew. Bees honey is found in abundance as well.
The streams that leave the rivers to join the dense forest are filled with fresh crystal-clear water making it a habitable place for the locals.
Villas in Galle are the right place to begin the adventure after you’ve explored the town. The best way to reach is through Matara, Deniyaya, Pitadeniya in that procession. The other two routes are unfavourable for the lack of quality accommodation. They are certainly not the best bet in case you intend to avoid the increasing amount of tourist groups. Much is not known about this rainforest as opposed to the other attractions of Sri Lanka. We suppose this makes it all the more intriguing!