Southern Sri Lanka (about Sri Lanka) is a Kanneliya is one of the very unpopular natural attractions in Sri Lanka. It is the second most important rain forest in southern Sri Lanka after Sinharaja forest reserve. Kanneliya is declared as a man and biosphere forest reserve by UNESCO in 2004. Kanneliya spreads over 10,139 hectares (25,000 acres) in the southern wet-zone of the island. Kanneliya is only behind Sinharaja rain forest in terms of ecological value and the extent of the forest cover.
Kanneliya is quite secluded forest cover and one of the least explore tourist site in Sri Lanka. Sinharaja rain forest tour is the most popular Sri Lanka tour to explore rain forests, however, despite ecological importance, Kannliys forest does not attract even a fraction of the wildlife enthusiasts that visit Singaraja forest.
Kanneliy Vs Sinharaja
Sri Lanka is a popular holiday destination in Sri Lanka and visited by a large number of travellers. Sri Lanka is most popular as a leisure holiday destination and the number of wildlife explores and nature holiday lovers are comparatively low.
Even though Sinharaja rain forest included in many Sri Lanka tour packages, Kanneliys included is not included in Sri Lanka tour itineraries as an activity. There are many activities based on rainforests such as Sinharaja trekking tour, Sinharaja adventure tour, Knuckles trekking, Hantana trekking etc but Kanneliys is very rarely included in activities available for travellers.
Importance of Kanneliya forest reserve
Kanneliya rain forest is one of the most important patches of forest with the highest biodiversity not only within Sri Lanka but also covering whole southern Asia.
Kanneliya harbours a large number of fauna and flora species and it is the home for many numbers of endemic flora species. Some of the trees and plants in Kanneliya are not to be found anywhere else in the world. Kanneliya is the main catchment area of the two biggest rivers, namely Gin Ganga and Nilwala, in southern Sri Lanka.
Where is the Kanneliya forest?
Kanneliya is situated about 40 kilometres from Udugama and it takes about 1 hour to reach the entrance of the forest. Just behind the entrance of Kanneliya is the Kanneliya tourist home that maintained by the forest conservation department.
After about 10 meters along the path to the forest, you see the natural pond created by the perennial water resources of the forest. This footpath after the pond goes through the natural forest cover of Kanneliya and it is very cool and comfortable even on a very warm day. The cool and comfortable climate in the forest is resulted due to the filtration of sun-rays by the tree canopy.
What to see in Kanneliya forest?
You need to walk with caution along the path because there is a chance of tripping due to the rocks and roots emerging from the ground. After several minutes walk through the forest, you come to the “Lihiniya Hela”, where people can see a stone cave. You need to go down on the flight of steps located on to the right hand of the footpath to reach the cave. A small stream flows through the cave and travellers can go through the cave and appear from the other side.
After going through the several more kilometres you will find the second holiday home. Next to it in the direction of left, there is another narrow path directing you to a wooden bridge. After the bridge, you can see the beautiful “Anagimala Ella”. The area called “Messa Muduna” is followed by Anagimale Ella, where the travellers can see the typical rainforest environment, and this is the starting point of “Anagimale Ella”.
The mountain known as “Lawalwaru” and “Kos Peliti” can be seen very clearly from Messa Muduna. There is a large number of places to visit in Kanneliya other than the places mentioned already. Kambili Kanda is considered as another important place to visit here.
It is the highest spot of the Kanneliya forest reserve. Even though Kanneliya is a rainforest, Kambili Kanda shows the characters of montane forest. Gigantic trees, Quartz Mountain, narangas Ella waterfall, Gallewli Ella, Kambili Kanda are other most important t places to visit in Kanneliya.
26 species of fish, 147 species of birds and 86 species of animals are recorded in Kanneliya. There are several routes in the forest and visitors are allowed to enter the reserve with permission of forest conservation officers at the site. You need to have the help of a ranger while walking in the forest.