Sinharaja Forest Reserve Tours

Flowering plants of sinharaja

Sinharaja Forest Reserve Tour

Sinharaja forest reserve

Sinharaja forest reserve is a valuable patch of forests in the island and it is the last remaining primaeval rain forest in Sri Lanka, which is believed to be originated about 180 million years ago, during the Gondwana Supercontinent. Sinharaja is the largest rainforest in Asia dating back to 180 million years. Due to the ecological importance, Sinharaja is protected under the emblem of UNESCO world heritage site. Venturing on a Sinharaja forest reserve tour is the best way to explore this natural treasure trover of Sri Lanka. This article contains a lot of information that can be useful to plan your next Sinharaja forest reserve tour.

sinharaja forest reserve

Location of Sinharaja forest reserve

The ecosystem of Sinharaja forest reserve, nestled between Sabaragamuwa and Western province of south-west Sri Lanka, is best described as low altitude and semi-montane evergreen rainforest. The distance to Kudawa entrance gate of Sinharaja from Colombo is 128 kilometres via southern expressway, and it takes around 3 hours to reach Sinharaja from Colombo. The distance to Mediripitiya entrance gate of Sinharaja from Colombo is 142 kilometres and it will take around 3hours 30 minutes for the journey.

Sinharaja Rainforest Tour

Importance of Sinharaja forest reserve

Sinharaja forest reserve spreads over varied geographical conditions such as mountains, grasslands, valleys etc. Sinharaja forest reserve has a unique eco-system and the forest reserve has the highest density of Fauna and Flora species compared to all other rainforests in the country. Sinharaja rainforest harbours a huge variety of Fauna and flora that not to be seen elsewhere. Their uniqueness and importance are highly adorned by ecologists. Morethan 60% of trees and plants of sinharaja is endemic to Sri Lanka and many of them are rare and existing only in Sinharaja forest reA large. A large number of fauna species are also can be seen here such as reptiles, amphibians, insects, bird species, butterfly species and mammals. Due to the high concentration of faun and Flora, Sinharaja is the most valuable rainforest on the island and included in many road trips of Sri Lanka.

The extent of sinharaja forest reserve

Sinharaja forest reserve spreads well above 8000 hectares and fluctuates between 300 meters above sea-level to 1170 meters above sea level. The forest is demarcated under 2 sections, 6092 hectares under the Forest Reserve and 2772 hectares under the Proposed Forest patch. A large network of perennial waterways (rivers, waterfalls and streams) crisscrosses in the ridges and valleys of sinharaja rainforest. Sinharaja forest reserve is acting as an important catchment area in the island and records a very high rainfall throughout the year. The main tributaries of Kalu river and Gin river start in the Sinharaja forest reserve.

Bio-diversity of sinharaja forest reserve

Sinharaja forest reserve tour gives you a valuable opportunity to see some of the very rare species of flora of Sri Lanka, because, out of 217 species of endemic trees and woody climber found in Sri Lanka’s lowland, 139 species (64%) have been discovered in Sinharaja forest reserve. 16 species of these trees and plants are described as very rare species. The number of endemic trees and plants in the island is 830.

Sinharaja forest reserve tour is another great opportunity to explore the rich wildlife of the island. But you see many different species of creatures that you see in other places on the island. Unlike in most other national parks in Sri Lanka such as Yala, Udawalawe, Minneriya, during the Sinharaja forest reserve tour, the travellers encounter many different species of birds, butterflies, amphibians, insects, and reptiles. The chance of spotting leopards, Elephant and bear are extremely rare.

The Sinharaja forest reserve tour is one of the very essential parts of every bird watching tour in Sri Lanka because bird watchers can spot a large number of avian fauna species here. Sinhara rainforest harbours 20 species of Sri Lankan birds and out of which, 19 species are endemic to the island. Most of these species are very rare and therefore the chances of spotting them outside of Sinharaja rainforest reserves is very narrow.

Taking a Sinharaja forest reserve tour is one of the best ways to see a large number of butterflies on the island. Most Butterflies in the country are listed in the red list of IUCN, habitat loss has been identified as the main reason for the slowly diminishing butterfly population in the country. During the Sinharaja forest reserve tour, the travellers are able to spot many species of endemic butterfly species as well as mammal species. The endemism among the butterfly and mammal of Sinharaja forest reserve is estimated to be more than 50%.

Adventure Tour in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja

Below is a list of several endemic animal species residing in the Sinharaja forest reserve but please don’t expect to see them during the Sinharaja forest reserve tour, it is extremely rare.

Indian elephant (Elephas maxiumus) leopard (Panthera pardus) Sri Lanka wood pigeon (Columba torringtoni) Endemic purple-faced Langur (Presbytis senex) Sri Lanka white-headed starling (Sturnus senex) Sri Lanka blue magpie (Cissa ornate) Sri Lanka broad-billed roller (Eurystomus orientalis irisi) green-billed Coucal (Centropus chlororrhynchus) ashy-headed babbler (Garrulax cinereifrons)

Sinharaja rain forest entrance

The Sinharaja forest reserve tour can be conducted along several trails. Most popular entrance to the Sinharaja forest reserve is Kudawa Entrance gate and the other popular Sinharaja rain forest entrance Mediripitiya Entrance gate.

Below are the most popular treks used in Sinharaja forest reserve tour.

1. Kudawala-Moulawella trail: This is a 3 kilometres trek, covers north-western part of the forest. Here you have the opportunity to explore the forest canopy and managed land.

2. Kudawa-Sinhagala trail: This trail is an exhilarating trek need good physical and mental fitness. The trek is around 8 kilometres and one of the most scenic treks in the forest. The destination of the trek is one of the peaks in the forest known as Sinhagala, the pinnacle of the mountain lies around 740 meters above sea-level.

3. Pitadeniya-Pathan-Oya: If you use the trek of Pitadeniya-Pathan-Oya, during your Sinharaja forest reserve tour, you will be able to explore hakna ella (hathan waterfall) and pathan Oya (Pathan river), you will encounter primary forest cover on this route. The trek is 10 kilometres long.

4. Neluwa-Kosmulla trail: The trail of Neliwa-Kosmulla is also a 10 kilometres long trail similar to Pitadeniya-Pathanoya trail. Duvili Ella (dust waterfall), which is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island and several caves are are the important highlights of the trek. There is a high possibility of spotting a large number of sambhar deer and water buffaloes at Deniya, that you encounter on this trek.

5. Pitadeniya-Kekuna Ella Trail: The destination of the trail is a waterfall. This is a comparatively easy trek and you will above able to experience rich diverse flora and fauna in the forest.

6. Morningside-Duvili Ella trails: This trek leads to Duvili Ella (dust waterfall), the main forest type that you encounter on this trail is sub-montane grasslands forest type.

Sinharaja waterfalls

What time should I start my trek in the Sinharaja forest reserve?

It is recommended to start the Sinharaja rainforest tour at early hours (at least by 7.30 am). The ticket counter opens daily at 6.00 am. The frequent rain is expected during the south-west monsoon (from April to November) and the rainfall is less frequent during the rest of the year.

Sinharaja rain forest entrance

The entrance fees for adults is LKR 575 and the Sinharaja rain forest entrance for children is LKR 295.

How to find a guide during the Sinharaja forest reserve tour?

It is recommended to hire a guide for your Sinharaja forest reserve tour in order to get the most comprehensive details on the Faun and Flora of Sinharaja forest reserve. Sinharaja tour guides are well educated on the forest and its fauna and flora, thereby you will be able to get most accurate information with maximum details. One can easily hire a well experienced Sinharaja tour guide at an affordable rate. But the rates highly depend on the experience of the guide, and the guide fee for a trek will be around LKR 1500. Usually, most Sinharaja tour guide is youths from the surrounding villages of Sinharaja forest reserve and it is one of the most important sources of income for the people in the area. The guides are well educated in the forest, and there is no chance of losing your way in the forest.

How to find accommodation for the Sinharaja forest reserve tour?

There are not many possibilities with regards to the Sinharaja accommodation. Here you will find only very few star class hotels and luxury accommodation providers. A large number of small properties such as guest house and rest houses dotted near the Pitadeniya and Kudawa entrance gates. Most of them are providing a comfortable, clean and safe accommodation at an affordable rate. Most of these properties can be booked via the internet, through the local tour operators or direct at the hotel. The availability of dormitories and homestay accommodation facilities are also can be expected here. Many families in the surrounding villages provide home-stay accommodation facilities at a very affordable rate. If you are a traveller having a very low-budget, this will be the best option for your accommodation in sinharaja.

Sinharaja accommodation for Sinharaja forest reserve tour

Southern Sinharaja

The southern end of Sinharaja considered being one of the most valuable forests in Sri Lanka with the presence of forest rangers and Forest departments campsite. Visitors are pleased to walk around the area while some guide services could be found in Deniyaya, the nearest town and among the villagers of Mederipitiya, one of the buffer zone villages. Now the southern end has a sort of entrance with a ticket counter, guide services, a map showing the natural trail options, some maintained trails and upgraded accommodation at the Pitadeniya campsite. The side of the world heritage site offers some interesting hiking options – well worth the long journey from Colombo.

The southern end, an upgraded official entrance into the Sinharaja World Heritage Site, can be reached from the town of Deniyaya along a narrow road that winds its way along a sloping rural landscape. It is the path less travelled but gives you an equal or better glimpse of the bio-diversity, with a cross-cut of the micro-climates from buffer zone village, degraded secondary forests riverine eco-systems and virgin area.

The best way to see these subtle changes is to start walking from the Mederipitiya bus stop area, over the bridge past, the temple, and along the footprint that takes you between homes, paddy fields, tea land, home gardens, towards the coolness and embrace of the rainforest.

water stream sinharaja

There are several treks marked out recently to display the colours, shapes, and sounds of this finely balance forest, famed for its high endemism and changing topographical and eco-system features condensed into a small area. The trails, most ending at a water source, take you to Kekunu Ela along the banks of the Aranuwa Dola, to Pathan Oya Ela. It is a harder trek as there are some steep, twisting paths where you have to keep a sharp eye on the forest floor so that you don’t trip over roots and rocks.

There is also the trail to Mal Mora Ela that is cut through the forest to a waterfall surrounded with palm trees made translucent by the sunlight that filters through. The longest, which will take you the best part the f day, is to Sinhagala, a landmark point in the forest where there is a spectacular panoramic view of treetops as far as the eye can see. As legend has it, it was on top of this rock that a ferocious lion used to reign- until a giant shot an arrow from an adjoining peak and killed it.

As the treks start off along the foot cycle path along the banks of the Gin Ganga that forms the boundary of Sinharaja. Sinharaja’s best-known creatures are the birds that are truly worth spotting, however, this requires patience perseverance, and really good spotting power, not to mention standing still in leech territory. The foliage is easy to admire and offers you a layered variety of barks, trunks, roots, buttresses, leaves, flowers, vines, ferns, orchids, and lichens well kitted up with nature’s survival tools; indeed custom made to suit rainforest conditions. Many a splendid coloured or structured insect and reptiles can be seen intermingled with the vegetation.

Sinharaja map

A – Kudawa Conservation Centre

B – Jeep track from Kudawa Conservation Centre to Kudawa Research Station

C – Mulawella Peak

D – Kudawa Research Station

E – Gal Yen Yaya

F – Sinhagala Peak

G – Pitadeniya Conservation Centre

H – Pitadeniya Ticket Counter

I – Track from Mediripitiya to Pitadeniya Conservation Centre

J – Kohila Aramba

K – Kekuna Ella

L – Patan-oya Ella

M – Duwili Ella (Kosmulla)

N – Morningside Conservation Centre

O – Natural Pool

P – Duwili Ella (Morningside)

1 – Wathurawa- Mulawella

2 – From Kudawa Conservation Centre to Nawanda Tree

3 – From Sinhagala Trail to Gal Len Yaya

4 – Sinhagala trail from Kudawa

5 – Kohila Aamba Trail

6 – Kekuna Ella and Pata-oua Ella Trail

7 – Sinhagala Trail from Pitadeniya

8 – Duwili Ella Trail from Denuwakanda

9 – Duwili Ella Trail from MCC

10 – From Morningside to the natural pool

11 – Trail from Kosmulla via Duwili Ella to Siththara gal lena (cave)

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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