Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja Rain Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the last viable remnant of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rainforest spanning an area of 18900 acres is located within Sabaragamuwa and Southern provinces of the south-west lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. Sinharaja is bounded by rivers on three sides. On the north, Sinharaja is bounded by the Napola Dola and Koskulana Ganga. On the south and south-west are the rivers Maha Dola and Gin Ganga. On the west are the river Kalukandawa Ela and river Kudawa Ganga. To the east of Sinharaja is an ancient footpath near Beverley Tea Estate and by the Denuwa Kanda.

Reaching Sinharaja Rain Forest

From Northern or western parts of the country you can reach Sinharaja Forest Reserve via Ratnapura, Kiriella, Kalawana, Weddala. From the South you can enter Sinharaja Rain Forest from Deniyaya. Coming form Hambantota, Udawalawe you can enter Sinharaja from Rakwana side.

Area of Sinharaja Rain Forest

The total area of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is 18,900 acres or 7,648 hectares. It ranges in altitude from 300m to 1,170m.

Significance of Sinharaja Forest

SiThe Sinharaja Forest reserve is alsoome to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.

Establishment of Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Most of the area of Sinharaha forest was originally declared a forest reserve under the Waste Lands Ordinance in 1875. In 1978, Sinharaja Rain Forest was included in the international network of biosphere reserves, established and maintained as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program. In October 1988, this reserve, together with a northeastern extension of it, was declared Sri Lanka’s first National Wilderness Heritage Area. In December 1988, the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve became Sri Lanka’s first natural site to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Climate on Sinharaja Rain Forest

Meteorological records gathered from in and around Sinharaja over the last 60 years reveal the annual rainfall of Sinharaja Forest has ranged between 3614mm to 5006mm and temperatures from 19°C to 34°C. The highest rainfall is owing to two monsoons: south-west monsoons during May-July and the northeast monsoons during November-January.

Physical features

Sinharaja Rain Forest is a narrow strip of undulating terrain consists of a series of ridges and valleys drained by an intricate network of streams, which flow into the Gin Ganga on the southern boundary and Kalu Ganga, via the Napola Dola, Koskulana Ganga and Kudawa Ganga, on the northern boundary.

Nature trails of Sinharaja Rain Forest

The two main nature trails of Sinharaja Rain Forest are those lead to the peak of Moulawella and the peak of Sinhagala. Both of these nature trails begins at Kudawa Conservation Centre (KCC) are equally enjoyable and enlightening. The forest is densly crowded with tall trees growing in close proximity, but winding trails make the trekking. Small streams of crystal-clear cool water, that is home to a variety of fish, toads and crabs, crisscross the trails. And the mixed species of birds are seen in the canopy of the woods.

Sinhagala Nature Trail

Trail head: Entrance to the protected area, Kudawa Conservation Centre, Weddagala, Kalawana Trail end: Sinhagala Peak Length of the trail: 2.4 km Rise in elevation gain along the trail: 300m at Trail Head: 473m at Trail End Approximate time: 5-7 hours Hiking Season: Best months are December to April

Mulawella Nature Trail

Trail head: Entrance to the protected area, Kudawa Conservation Centre, Weddagala, Kalawana Trail end: Mulawella Peak Length of the trail: 2.4 km Rise in elevation along the trail: 457m at Trail Head to 758m at Trail End Approximate time: 1-2 hours Hiking Season: Best months are December to April

Birdlife in Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja Rain Forest is home to numerous indigenous birds such asthe Ceylon Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus), the Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), the Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush (Garrulax cinereifrons), Layard’s parakeet (Psittacula calthripae), the Jungle fowl (Gallus lafayetii ), the Spur fowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata), the Ceylon Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtonii), the Brown- capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum), the Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) and the Ceylon Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornate) among others, are prominent in this area.

19 of Sri Lanka’s 20 species of endemic bird species in Sri Lanka are found in the Sinharaja Reserve Among the endangered birds are Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Green-Billed Coucal, Sri Lankan white-headed starling, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Caucal, Sri Lanka Spur fowl Sri Lankan Blue Magpie, and Ashy-headed Babbler, all of which are endemic.

Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Butterflies

Out of 12 endemic mammal species of the country 8 are found here. Giant squirrel, dusky-stripped jungle squirrel, badger mongoose and endemic purple-faced leaf monkey and torque macaque are frequently seen.

Many threatened species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies are found in the Reserve including the leopard. Endemism among mammals and butterflies is greater than 50%. Reptiles and amphibia include python, endemic green pit viper, endemic hump nosed lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus) and rough-nose horned lizard (Ceratophora aspera).

Conservation Value Sinharaja

Conservation Value Sinharaja is the last extensive primary lowland tropical rain forest in Sri Lanka. It holds a large number of endemic species of plants and animals, and a variety of plants of known benefit to man. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the last viable remnant of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rain forest; over 60% of the trees are endemic and many of these are rare; and there are 21 endemic bird species, and a number of rare insects, reptiles and amphibians (IUCN Technical Evaluation).

The long-term success of conserving Sinharaja depends upon the sustainable development of its buffer and peripheral zones through a participatory approach emphasizing the involvement of local people. Construction of hotels on peripheral zones and constructions of roads over the protected areas are bound to result in irrecoverable damages to this world heritage site.

Entrances in Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Kurulugala Entrance

This entrance is situated about 12.8 km away from the center of Deniyaya. You can walk along different trails. One of ideal places in Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve for bird watching and butterfly watching. Because of average elevation is about 1000 m and Rakwana mountains are situated next to this area, you can see high biodiversity here. Fascinating waterfalls, Southern plains and Kurulugala mountain peak are the main destinations in Kurulugala entrance. Newest one among all entrances in Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve.

Sinharaja Forest Pitadeniya Entrance

This entrance is situated about 15 km away from the center of Deniyaya. Kekuna Ella waterfall, pathan oya waterfall and hanging bridge in pitadeniya conservation center are the main destinations. One of most active entrances over the years.

Sinharaja Forest Lankagama Entrance

This entrance is situated about 18.5 km away from the center of Deniyaya. Possible to see six waterfalls in very short time of period. This entrance is very popular among local tourists. A road to Lions Rock from Lankagama Entrance was built very recently.

Sinharaja Forest Morningside Entrance

This entrance is situated about 40 km away from the center of Deniyaya.

Sinharaja Forest Kudawa Entrance

This entrance is situated about 95 km away from the center of Deniyaya.

About Ratnapura district

Ratnapura is the gem mining capital of Sri Lanka. Located in the Sabaragamuwa Province, it is a vibrant city with a rich history in gem trade. Ratnapura is surrounded by lush landscapes and is a gateway to the Sinharaja Rainforest. The city has a population of approximately 52,000 people and is a mix of various ethnic groups, including Sinhalese, Tamils, and Moors.

Ratnapura is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city. It is an important commercial hub in Sri Lanka, with many gem corporations having their head offices here. The city is also known for its agriculture, including rice and tea cultivation. Visitors can explore gem mines, experience traditional gem trading, and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area, making Ratnapura a unique and fascinating destination.

About Sabaragamuwa province

Sabaragamuwa Province, located in the southwest region of Sri Lanka, is a captivating area known for its lush landscapes, rich biodiversity, and vibrant cultural heritage. This province includes the city of Ratnapura, famously known as the gem mining capital of Sri Lanka, where precious gemstones like sapphires and rubies are mined and traded. Another highlight of Sabaragamuwa is the Sinharaja Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is celebrated for its unique and diverse flora and fauna. This tropical rainforest offers a sanctuary for numerous endemic species and is a haven for nature lovers and researchers.

Agriculture is a cornerstone of Sabaragamuwa's economy, with tea, rubber, and rice cultivation being predominant. The region's fertile lands and favorable climate contribute to the successful growth of these crops, making it a vital area for Sri Lanka's agricultural output. Visitors to Sabaragamuwa can enjoy a variety of attractions, such as the breathtaking waterfalls like Bopath Ella and the numerous nature reserves that provide opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and experiencing the natural beauty of the area.

Cultural and historical sites are also abundant in Sabaragamuwa. The province boasts ancient temples, traditional villages, and vibrant local markets that offer a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of the region. With its combination of natural wonders and cultural richness, Sabaragamuwa Province provides a diverse and enriching experience for all who visit. Whether you're exploring the gem mines of Ratnapura, trekking through the Sinharaja Rainforest, or enjoying the scenic beauty of its landscapes, Sabaragamuwa is a true gem in Sri Lanka's crown.

【Text by Lakpura™. Images by Google, copyright(s) reserved by original authors.】