Table of Contents
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve
- Kanneliya Rain Forest-trekking in Sri Lanka
- Hiyare Rain Forest
- IFS-Popham Arboretum
- Nasdanda Mountain
Sri Lanka is a tropical island in Asia and has a diverse landscapes that offer opportunities for treks and hikes of every level of difficulty. Sri Lanka hill country with towering mountains that runs through the centre of Sri Lanka offers the greatest concentration of mountain hikes. However, that isn’t the only place that can be useful for your trekking and hiking tour in Sri Lanka, patches of forests and the isolated mountains just south and west of the central mountain range also offer an array of incredible landscapes to hike through. From the rugged terrain of the Sinharaja rainforest on Sri Lanka’s west coast to the tea fields and jungles of the south, here are some of the best places for hiking in Sri Lanka.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja rain forest is the most beautiful and biggest primaeval rain forest in Sri Lanka. Sinharaja rainforest is situated at the foothills of sri Lanka’s holy mountain “adam’s peak“. This natural jewel is an ecological hotspot and hosts hundreds of fauna and flora. It is home to the largest number of avian fauna species in Sri Lanka therefore Sinharaja rainforest is a part of most Sri Lanka adventure and Sri Lanka nature tours. Sinharaja rainforest was declared a UNESCO world heritage site by UNESCO and it is situated in the Ratnapura district bordering Rekawa, Matugama and Deniyaya.
Undoubtedly Sinharaja rain forest is the most popular one-day trip place in Sri Lanka, for rain forest tours. Most local tour operators offer one-day Sri Lanka trips with trekking tours to the Sinharaja rain forest from Colombo and beach resorts.
The rainforest is spread over 9800 hectares. Sinharaja is home to a large number of indigenous plant and animal species. The number of indigenous flowering plants in the country is estimated to be 830 and Sinharaja accommodate 500 of them. Seventeen endemic bird species out of twenty-one bird species can be witnessed in Sinharaja. The richness of biodiversity, fauna, flora and unique ecosystem of Sinharaja proved to be a great site for rainforest exploration on the island.
Kanneliya Rain Forest-trekking in Sri Lanka
Kanneliya is one of the most important natural attractions in southern Sri Lanka situated 35 km from Galle. Kanneliya rainforest reserve is spread over 5105 hectares and accommodates several waterfalls, rivers, and waterways.
Kanneliya also has very high endemism among its fauna. The number of trees identified within the reserve is 234 and 141 of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. Among the several trails for an adventurous walk in Kanneliya Kabbala Mountain and Anagimale falls are the longest and the most adventurous. Both these trails start from the Conservation centre of Kannaliya and go up to the Kabbalana Mountain. The view from the top of the mountain is breathtaking. The trail leads the way to Angimale waterfall after the mountain before it goes along a logging trail to the conservation centre.
Hiyare Rain Forest
The rainforest reserve situated bordering the Hiyare reservoir is situated about 18 km from Galle. However, this is a well-kept secret in southern Sri Lanka and rarely reflected in Sri Lanka tour packages.
Hiyare forest reserve is one of the most beautiful rainforests on the island and it is a part of Kottawa Khombala forest reserve. There is a well-developed road network to the forest and it is just half an hour’s drive from the nearest city Galle. Hiyare means hundreds of streams as and it could be the best name for the reserve, which accommodated a large number of beautiful streams. Hiyare water resources are the home to more than 30 species of freshwater fish species in the country and most of them are endemic to the island.
The largest pink quartz mountain in Asia, which is several million years old, is a natural wonder of the country. Namaluyana holds a very important place among the historical sites in the country. According to historical evidence the mountain was used, when the Taj Mahal was built in India.
Namaluyana is situated in the district of Anuradhapura in the beautiful village of Ulpathagama Galkiriyagama, which is 160 km from Colombo. Bio-diversity of Namaluyana is also considered to be high and it is home to a large number of Natrees or Ironwood (mesua nagasurium). The rack which leads to the Namaluyana quartz mountain is very picturesque owing to the unique landscape in the winding path.
The arboretum accommodates seventy species of evergreen forest trees. It has a collection of the most valuable trees on the island such as True Ebony. The forest is consisting of shrubs, hardwood timber trees, plants with medicinal value, and fruiting and flowering trees. The jungle is home to many numbers of animals such as birds, mammals, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles etc, and it is rich in bio-diversity.
Nasdanda Mountain is one of the best off-the-beaten-track destinations and is included in many Sri Lanka adventure tours. The mountain is situated in the Badulla district in the central mountains range of the island. This unpopular mountain provides opportunities for trekking, hiking, walking, and mountain biking. Mountain is situated bordering the Nuwara Eliya and Badulla district more than 1500 meters above sea level. Mountain looks like an elephant from a distance and its elevation is well over 2250 meters above sea level.
One can have a breathtaking view of the Uwa province from the top of the mountain. Climbing to the upper part of the mountain is difficult it could be dangerous for people, who are new to mountain climbing. During British rule, there had been a platform specially made for security purposes from which they could monitor the whole region. The platform existed more than 75 years ago and it had been delayed in the past.
The railway track from Nanuoya to Badulla goes through Nasdana Mountain. The railway track in the mountain goes through several dozens of tunnels and tunnel 18 goes through the Nasdana Mountains. One distinct characteristic of the tunnel is two different climate patterns on either side of the tunnel. At one end of the tunnel is a dry climate while the other ends show a wet climate.
Nasdana Mountain is identified as an important catchment area and it is the beginning of many streams. Today this valuable upper watershed became a protected area in the mountains by declaring the areas above 5000 above sea level as protected areas.
The mountain is often hidden in the mist early in the morning and evening making some beautiful romantic scenery in the area. The climate of Nasdana Mountain can be categorized as cold throughout the year. Nasdana Mountain is located in the wet zone where the yearly rainfall is measured to be high. Frequent rain in the area of Nasdana Mountain is not unusual.
Vegetation in the Nasdana Mountain is different from the low land vegetation of the country. Cool climate, frequent rainfall, mist in the evening and morning, and high elevation are the main factors for the differentiation of vegetation in the area.
The small patches of typical montane forest can be seen in the area, most of the forest existed in the past removed by the British rulers for the tea, coffee and cinchona plantations. Still, the area is very attractive owing to a large number of flowering plants, trees that grow in the mountains and escapements. The area is inhabited by many numbers of animals and birds. Some of the endemic fauna and flora can be observed in and around Nasdana Mountain.
Nasdana mountain and the regions were used for Chena (clear and burn cultivation) cultivation in the past. Therefore much of its valuable initial forest cover was removed and today one can see mainly the secondary forest cover, which consists of trees such as eucalyptus. The natural beauty of Nasdana is enhanced by the number of waterfalls that arise from its streams. Diyawatanalla is one such famous beautiful waterfall situated in Alawathgoda.
Arankele historical site is dating back to the 6th century AD. Arankele had been a Buddhist monastery complex with very important in the past and it is situated in the Kurunegala district 24 km from Kurunegala.
Historical evidence suggests that it was inhabited by forest-dwelling monks. The site is comprised of many historical monuments such as a large hot ware bath, meditating walkway, and an Ayurveda hospital.
There are many types of equipment that remain on the site that was used in the hospital and the equipment includes a huge granite herbal bath, and a grinder used for herbs. Arankele is not only a historical site but also it is an important biological host spot as well as a garden with a large collection of medicinal plants. It is believed that Arahath Maliyadeva (the last monk, who attained Arahath in Sri Lanka) had been here and meditating about 800 years ago. Arankele is a calm tranquil place, which can even be used as a place for meditation.