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, so long clothing and leech repellent containing picaridin or DEET is recommended. 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 should hire a guide from Kudawa or Weddagala, which are 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, so be prepared to walk. Wear sturdy boots and long trousers to protect against leeches and 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.
- Sturdy, comfortable hiking boots
- Long thick socks
- Insect repellent contining DEET or picaridin
- mobile phone
There is a small shop at the main entrance, where you can purchase drinks, snacks, and insect repellent.
Don't forget to bring food and water as there is no restaurant or shop inside the forest area. Take all your rubbish home with you. Eating inside the forest is possible only in the rest huts. Picking fruit from trees and bringing in food packaging that you will be tempted to litter is prohibited.
Drinks can only be taken in a reusable bottle, "unsafe" or "temporary" bottles (soft drink bottles) are not allowed. Bring plenty of water.
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 are present, wearing boots for protection and taking a stick would be best when walking on the narrow paths. Do not bathe in any streams unless your guide says it is safe.
A wild elephant attacked a village near Sinharaja in 2019. It is advised to stay with your guide at all times.