Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park in Sri Lanka. The forest is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Sinharaja rainforest is a UNESCO world heritage site which expands to over 33 kilometers.
The forest reserve is an impressive landmark, which covers 89 km² in total.
Flora and fauna
The reserve is home many varieties of plants and animals, many endemic to the country.
Sinharaja is infested with leeches. They climb on anyone, so you should wear an ointment that repels them. Apart from that, the forest is home to over 30 endemic birds and reptiles. Many rare creatures such as the Sri Lankan bay owl and the Serendib scops owl can be found inside the rainforest. Snakes such as the green viper are quite common in the area.
The best time to visit the forest is between December and early April or between August and September.
The three entrances to Forest Reserve are (1) the Kudawa entrance, which is the main and most used, (2) the Pitadeniya entrance, and (3) the least-used Morning Side entrance. This is one of the more remote destinations, so check schedules if using public transport.
There have been problems at the Pitadeniya entrance with guides scamming tourists.
For the main Kudawa entrance, you'll have to take a bus from Hatton bus station for Avissawella. It will take 2½ hours and cost Rs. 100. From Avissawella, continue by bus to Ratnapura. It will take an hour and costs Rs. 60. From Ratnapura, take another bus for Kalawana (Rs. 70). From Kalawana, take a bus to the small village of Kudawa (Rs. 60). From Kudawa, it's about a half mile and slightly uphill walk to the northern entrance of the reserve. The entrance to the forest is Rs. 500 per person. You might need a guide which can be hired from Kudawa or Weddagala, which is en-route to Kudawa when coming from Kalawana.
Fees and permits
You'll need a permit to enter the forest area. It can be obtained from the entrances along with the entry ticket. An ID card or passport will be required to obtain entry.
The rain forest is not suitable for vehicle tours, you will travel on foot. It is recommended to bring boots as the park is a common environment for leeches and venomous snakes.
- Bring binoculars as you will have plenty of opportunities to use them.
- Birdwatching – Sinharaja is known as the only place to find all the endemic birds of Sri Lanka.
- Plant observation – This forest area has over 1,000 trees; from the tallest to the smallest, it is truly a wonder.
- Boots (boots that would fit tightly to the foot)
- Socks (long and tight socks)
- Ointment that repels- mosquito's and leeches... (recommended siddhalepa)
- mobile phone
- Binoculars (optional)
- camera (optional)
There is a small shop at the main entrance, where you can purchase beverages and small snacks. Other than that, there would not be any more shops within the forest. A travel leaflet or a book can be purchased from the souvenir shop. The main entrance also sells equipment which repels creatures such as leeches and snakes.
Don't forget to bring food and water as there is no restaurant or shop inside the forest area. Food must be packed in bags made of decomposing matter, such as paper. Eating inside the forest is possible only in the rest huts, which are available only once in a while. Picking fruits from trees and bringing in 'biscuit packets' are prohibited.
Drinks can only be taken in a bottle made out of safe plastic, "unsafe" or "temporary" bottles (Fanta, Sprite, Coke bottles) are not allowed. Make sure that you pack water as the forest spreads up to over 30 km, it is very important to stay hydrated.
The area surrounding the forest contains a few rest houses and hotels.
- Eco Villa - Sinharaja, Temple Road, Deniyaya, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 6AM, check-out: 11PM. Bed & breakfast with tour guide available. US$30.
- Sinharaja is a very large rain-forest. There has been several spottings of a leopard and an elephant inside. It is important that you go with a travel guide. Many varieties of venomous snakes also inhabit these land, wearing boot's for protection and grabbing a stick would be best when travelling in narrow roads. Make sure that you keep to your group and not drift away alone. Bathing in streams without authorization or any guidance whatsoever is life threatening.