SINHARAJA FOREST TOUR
Venturing on a Sinharaja forest tour is the best way to explore this invaluable treasure trove. Sinharaja rain forest is a strict nature reserve due to its ecological importance and Sinharaja is also protected under the emblem of the UNESCO world heritage site. This blog post is mainly about the 18 trails that can be used for a Sinharaja rain forest tour and other essential information that you need to know before starting your Sinharaja forest packages.
It was pristine thick green vegetation all around us and the sun rays find it very hard to penetrate the upper canopy of the forest. We could see all shades of green colours around us, heard the torrential creek sound coming from crickets (Grylloidea; Laicharting), and heard the soothing music of bird’s time to time from the jungle while waterfalls nearby make the constant roaring sound as it brings the waters down the cliff. A troop of monkeys suddenly appeared in the upper canopy while making a loud noise as to tell us that it was their home for many millennia.
Sinharaja had been a part of the Gondwana land and spared from destructive human activities until today. Sinharaja is one of the top 10 biodiversity hot spots in the world. Sinharaja is one of the 7 UNESCO world heritage sites on the island since 1988.
According to the legends it was abode by a Lion (abode by a Sinha), thus came to know as Sinharaja. The first historical note on Sinharaja was written by one of the oldest explorers in the world, “Ibn Battuta” (1304 AD-1369 AD), who came across Sinharaja forest as he walked on a footpath, as he was making the way to sacred mountain “Sripada” or Adams peak.
Bushes, plants, veins and rugged terrain make it nearly impossible to go off the track and it can be dangerous too according to Sarath, who takes us around the forest and share his insight about this valuable natural asset of Sri Lanka. Sinharaja spreads over 8864 hectares (21903 acres).
IUCN World Heritage Conservation Outlook Assessment 2020 on Sinharaja
The “IUCN World Heritage Conservation Outlook Assessment”, which released recently (on 09 December 2020) suggest that the immediate attention of the relative parties and additional conservation effort to maintain and/or restore values over the medium to long term. According to the report, the ecological value of the forest has been degraded considerably over the last several centuries. Therefore, the Sinharaja rainforest has been categorized under the group “significant concern”, “, natural vegetations that are facing numerous obstacles, invariably the conservation of the forest values are threatened and/or are showing signs of deterioration.
However, according to the report Sinharaja rainforest still an important ecological asset for the people of Sri Lanka, which has an irreplaceable ecosystem and provide habitats critical to the survival of globally threatened species. More information on the report.
Why choose Sinharaja for the rainforest tour in Sri Lanka
If you are looking for a place to do a rainforest tour in Sri Lanka, there is no better place like Sinharaja rainforest. Sinharaja rainforest not only the biggest rainforest on the island but also it is well developed to provide necessary services for the visitors. E.g. wildlife department has setup offices at the main entrances of the rainforest and provide the well trained guides to visitors, so that the visitors can learn about the forest while guides lead them to interesting places within the forest. The tourist can find accommodation very close to the rainforest if required and the accommodations available ranging from cheap dormitories to luxury villas.
Sinharaja rainforest trek
The travellers do not need to travel far from the western and southern coast beach resorts to find a totally different landscape and some exciting trekking and bird-watching treks like Sinharaja. Sinharaja is one of the best places for trekking and offers dozens of trekking routes with different trekking conditions. Therefore, the Sinharaja rainforest tour is very popular among the travellers.
Sinharaja rainforest is warm and subjected to heavy rain very often, but it offers great walking in a magical rainforest mixed with isolated mountains, waterfalls, rivers, streams and a fascinating collection of fauna and flora. The evergreen rainforest of Sinharaja is mixed with hundreds of avian fauna species and many dozens of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. The terrain of Sinharaja may make for gentler trekking, but it still offers some challenges and plenty of rewards.
Sinharaja rainforest package
The Lush stands of trees plants and creepers while rocks shiny with moss evoke the sense of a kingdom hidden from the outside world. Sinharaja is one of the last remaining primaeval rainforests in the world and a trip to Sinharaja is the best way to pamper yourself in the lap of mother nature.
A Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the world’s important biodiversity hotspots, the Sinharaja rainforest is among the planet’s richest rainforests, supporting a plethora of endemic flora and fauna. Stretching over 1800 hectares and sandwiched between western and Sabargamuwa province, Sinharaja is home to Elephants, leopards, the elusive black panther and Sri Lanka’s largest population of avian fauna species. But these are just some of the reserves more well-known treasures. A more fascinating phenomenon was in store for you as your venture on the Sinharaja rainforest tour.
Historical and ecological importance of Sinharaja
Sinharaja forest reserve is a valuable patch of forests on 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. Taking part in one of the Sinharaja rain forest tours is the best way to explore this invaluable treasure trove. Due to the ecological importance, Sinharaja is protected under the emblem of the UNESCO world heritage site. This article contains a lot of information that can be useful to plan your next Sinharaja forest packages.
Sinharaja rainforest package in a nutshell
- 07.00 AM Leave Colombo
- 10.00 AM reach Weddagala entrance and starts the trek
- 02.00 PM Finish the rain forest trek and start the return journey
- 05.00 PM reach the hotel in Colombo
How to plan a Sinharaja forest package?
The Sinharaja rain forest tour is one of the most exciting activity a tourist can undertake during their Sri Lanka holiday. According to our experience, most tourists, who visit the Sinharaja rainforest, plan their Sinharaja forest packages in advance. Some other travellers visit Sinharaja rain forest on a day trip from their beach resort or from Colombo, which is mostly spontaneously arranged with the help of local tour operators. However, the Sinharaja rain forest tour is a great opportunity to see the rich bio-diversity of one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
When is the best time for Sinharaja package?
The annual rainfall in the Sinharaja forest exceeds 5000ml. The rainy season at Sinharaja starts in April and ends in November, which is the main rainy season in the forest. Despite the leeches, slippery slopes and relentless rain, the rainy season considered being the time of the year to visit the forest. During this period the waterfalls bloom like flowers and make spectacular scenery with a roar. This is the perfect time of year to witness the unparalleled beauty of Sinharaja. The incessant downpour brings the fertile and rocky landscape to life in a vivid shade of green; fresh grass-covered nearly every inch.
Sinharaja rain forest tour from Colombo
This Sinharaja rain forest tour starts from Colombo, however, the travellers can book this Sinharaja rain forest tour from many other places such as Colombo international airport, Colombo hotels and 40+ beach hotels on the west coast. Most Sinharaja forest packages are private tours, which means that you have maximum privacy while exploring the rain forest at your own pace.
The Sinharaja rain forest tour starts at 07.00 am from Colombo and the drive from Colombo to Sinharaja rain forest takes around 3 hours. The guests are starting the rain forest trek at the Weddagala main entrance, which lasts around 4 hours.
The guests who like to start the Sinharaja forest packages from any other city other than Colombo, please write to us at admin@seerendipitytours. The pickup time and the price of the Sinharaja forest packages slightly differ, depending on the starting place.
Why use Weddagala entrance
According to our nature experts, the Sinharaja rainforest trip starting from Weddagala is far more interesting than the Sinharaja tours start from the Pitadeniya entrance. After analysing the feedback received from the travellers, who took the Sinharaja trip we also came to know that using the Weddagala Sinharaja entrance is more suitable for the Sinharaja rain forest tours.
If you need to see a lot of birds and other Fauna it is highly recommended to starts the Sinharaja tour from the Weddagala entrance. However, you will not be able to see waterfalls when you start the rainforest trek from the Weddagala entrance. Weddagala ticket counter is the most popular place to starts Sinharaja rainforest trek and 90% of travellers starts their march At Weddagala.
Pitadeniya Sinharaja entrance is popular among travellers coming from south coast beach resorts, which is the entrance close to them. Pitadeniya Sinharaja entrance also known as Sinharaja southern entrance allows you to see 5 spectacular waterfalls. Unlike the trek that starts from the Weddagala entrance, you are not able to see a large number of bird species on this trek.
Location of Sinharaja rain forest
The ecosystem of the Sinharaja forest reserve, nestled between Sabaragamuwa and the Western province of south-west Sri Lanka, is best described as a low altitude and semi-montane evergreen rain forest. The distance to the Kudawa entrance gate of Sinharaja from Colombo is 128 kilometres via the southern express way, 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 3 hours 30 minutes for the journey.
Importance of Sinharaja rain forest
Sinharaja rain forest spreads over varied geographical conditions such as mountains, grasslands, valleys etc. Sinharaja forest has a unique Eco-system and the rain forest has the highest density of Fauna and Flora species compared to all other rainforests in the country. Sinharaja forest harbours a huge variety of fauna and flora that not to be seen elsewhere.
Their uniqueness and importance are highly adorned by ecologists. More than 60% of the trees and plants of the Sinharaja forest is endemic to Sri Lanka and many of them are rare and existing only in the Sinharaja forest. A large number of fauna species are also endemic to the Sinharaja forest. There are many reptiles, amphibians, insects, bird species, butterfly species and mammals in this collection. Due to the high concentration of fauna and Flora, Sinharaja is the most valuable rainforest on the island and included in many road trips of Sri Lanka.
The extent of Sinharaja rain forest
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 into 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) criss-crosses in the ridges and valleys of Sinharaja forest. Sinharaja forest is acting as an important catchment area on the island and records a very high rainfall throughout the year. The main tributaries of the Kalu river and Gin river start in the Sinharaja forest reserve.
Bio-diversity of Sinharaja rain forest
Sinharaja rain forest tour gives you a valuable opportunity to see some of the very rare species of flora of Sri Lanka such as carnivore plants, 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 on 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 national park, 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.
Sinharaja forest packages and Bird watching
Sinharaja forest reserve tours are included in most bird watching tours of Sri Lanka, and it 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 in the forest. 19 of 25 endemic bird species have made Sinharaja their home, therefore, taking one of the Sinharaja forest reserve tours is the best way to encounter Sri Lanka’s endemic bird species. Most of these species are occurring very rarely outside of Sinharaja, therefore, undertaking Sinharaja forest reserve tours is the best in order to see those endemic bird species.
Sinharaja forest packages best way to see Butterflies
Sinharaja forest reserve tours also enable the visitors to see a large number of butterfly species 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 tours, 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 the Sinharaja forest reserve is estimated to be more than 50%.
Most common animal species in the Sinharaja forest
Below is a list of the most common animal species can be seen in the Sinharaja rain forest but please don’t expect to see them during the Sinharaja forest reserve tours, it is very 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 forest entrance points
Sinharaja forest reserve tours can be conducted on few trails, however, most Sinharaja forest tours are starting at the entrance of Kudawa or Weddagala and the other popular starting point for Sinharaja forest reserve tours is the Mediripitiya gate.
6 The most popular starting point of the Sinharaja rain forest tours
1. Kudawala-Moulawella trail
This is a 3 kilometres trek, covers north-western part of the forest. Here you have the opportunity to explore a part of thick forest cover and managed land.
2. Kudawa-Sinhagala trail
This trail is an exhilarating trek that needs 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.
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 Neluwa-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 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.
What time should I start my tour in the Sinharaja rain forest?
It is recommended to start the Sinharaja rainforest tours in the 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.
A large number of Sri Lankan tour operators offer Sinharaja forest reserve tours but only Seerendipity tours offer the Sinharaja southern trail with access to southern Sinharaja waterfalls. This is a private tour starting from your hotel, of which a latter part of the drive takes place in a 4 wheel drive jeep. If you wish to book Sinharaja forest reserve tours, you can contact sSeerendipity tours and they will assist you to get it done.
Sinharaja rain forest entrance fee
The entrance fees for adults is LKR 575 and the Sinharaja rain forest entrance for children is LKR 295.
How to find guides for the Sinharaja forest reserve tours?
It is recommended to hire a guide for your Sinharaja forest reserve tour in order to get the most comprehensive details on the Fauna and Flora of the Sinharaja forest reserve. Sinharaja tour guides are well educated on the forest and its fauna and flora, thereby you will be able to get the 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 Sinharaja forest tours?
There are not many possibilities with regards to 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 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.
Southern Sinharaja forest tour
The southern end of Sinharaja considered being one of the most valuable patches of forest 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.
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 forest reserve, 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 with the footprint that takes you between homes, paddy fields, tea land, home gardens, towards the coolness and embrace of the rainforest.
There are several trails 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 by palm trees made translucent by the sunlight that filters through. The longest, which will take you the best part of the 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 splendid coloured or structured insect and reptiles can be seen intermingled with the vegetation.
16 TRAILS FOR SINHARAJA FOREST PACKAGES?
- A – Kudawa Conservation Centre-1 – Wathurawa- Mulawella
- B – Jeep track from Kudawa Conservation Centre to Kudawa Research Station – Wathurawa- Mulawella
- C – Mulawella Peak – From Kudawa Conservation Centre to Nawanda Tree- From Sinhagala Trail to Gal Len Yaya
- D – Kudawa Research Station-Sinhagala trail from Kudawa
- 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-Kohila Aamba Trail
- K – Kekuna Ella-Kekuna Ella and Pata-oua Ella Trail
- L – Patan-Oya Ella-Sinhagala Trail from Pitadeniya
- M – Duwili Ella (Kosmulla)-Duwili Ella Trail from Denuwakanda
- N – Morningside Conservation Centre-Duwili Ella Trail from MCC
- O – Natural Pool-From Morningside to the natural pool
- P – Duwili Ella (Morningside)-Trail from Kosmulla via Duwili Ella to Siththara gal lena (cave)
WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE SEERENDIPITY FOR YOUR SINHARAJA FOREST TOUR?
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