Kanneliya Rainforest is one of the Galle’s major attractions in Southern Province, Sri Lanka. Galle consists of 3 major forest reservation complexes. Namely Kanneliya, Dediyagala, and Nakiyadeniya. The forest complex designated as a biosphere reserve in 2004 by UNESCO. The KDN complex is the last large remaining rain forest in Sri Lanka other than “Sinharaja”. The forest complex is situated 35 km northwest of the city of Galle. The rainforest is a major catchment area for two of the most important rivers in southern Sri Lanka, the Gin and Nilwala Rivers. They drain into the Indian Ocean near the world famous coral reefs of the Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary. This biosphere reserve harbors many plants and animal species endemic to Sri Lanka.
Tourists who are seeking adventure-based tourism locations in Sri Lanka, definitely tour the Kanneliya rainforest. It is a low land forest extends about 5306 ha. And also it is a tropical rain forest in Galle district. The landmark consists series of parallel mountain ranges and valleys. The elevation ranges from 60 m to 425 m above sea level. The climate in Kanneliya hugely varies when compared to the other parts of the Galle district. Mean annual temperature is 27.0 °C while annual temperature variation is 4 °C-5 °C. The forest receives a substantial rainfall of 3,750 mm. Kanneliya forest is well enriched with biodiversity. It may be second listed just because of the Sinharaja Forest. ‘Gin Ganga’ river is the main water supplement to the Kanneliya forest.
Kanneliya is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country. The Kanneliya biodiversity is considered richer, even compared to the world heritage rainforest “Sinharaja”. The water flows in the forest are now recovering with numerous numbers of streams adding life to the diverse vegetation and somewhat hilly landscape. Kanneliya shows a degree of floral endemicity, as 17 percent of lowland endemic floral species are confined to this forest area. Of 319 woody plants recorded in the area, about 52 percent is endemic.
Animals of Kanneliya also comprises of over 220 faunal species recorded including 41 endemic species. The forest complex is home to 86 species mammals. This includes 4 species of shrews, 5 rodents, one carnivore and 2 primates. Out of 26 endemic birds of Sri Lanka, 20 of them can be seen in KDN forest complex. 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s endemic freshwater fishes inhabit in the waters of Gin River and Nilwala River, which sourced by the springs of Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya. Among the forests’ herpetofauna are 36 species of snakes, 17 endemic species belonging to 6 families.
The beauty of Kanneliya:
The Kanneliya Rainforest has many beautiful sights to see. December to February is the most suitable months to travel as it gets the highest rainfall. Probably it is more appropriate for a natural bath, Hiking, waterfalls and beautiful landscapes. Usually, the streams are running with their full force of water through the jungle and create beautiful cascades and sceneries. It will make you sense for sure. You can bath in cool natural streams and have a lot of fun. Some of the popular pools located in the forest are the natural pool behind the Kanneliya forest resort, the pool in front of the Kanneliya conservation center (KCC) and the pool behind the KCC.
But key beauty amongst these scenarios is beautiful Kanneliya forest waterfalls. The Animale Falls is an extremely attractive white cascade bounding over a number of large rocks strewn around the stream bed and is just 2km from the gate on a broad trail. Walking 200m further down the main trail from the Anagimale Falls, one can reach the giant creeper. This is an ancient twisted creeper almost the height of a person and is one of the wonders of Kanneliya. The other two attractions are deeper within the forest, reached by walking over slippery trails and rope bridges. One of these is Narangas Ella, a charming little waterfall that drops down a vertical rock shelf to fall onto a number of flat ledges before continuing on. It makes for a very beautiful sight. The other attraction is the giant Nevada tree located at a short detour on the same trail. There is an observation platform built halfway up the trunk so that visitors can see the wonders of Kanneliya from a height.
Kanneliya tourism has been encouraged the visitors to visit the forest during the months of March or April as it may get reduced the rainfall. There are two traces used for hiking. You can select either route to Kabbale Mountain or the route through ‘Narangas’ Ella. The gigantic ‘Navada’ tree is on the same way. A panoramic view of the entire area can be entertained at the top of the Kabbale hill. Somehow you will have to take care of leeches. Bring some lime with you and if you are beaten, put few drops on the leech and it will leave you at once.
Any visitor to Kanneliya should first visit the Forestry Department building housed within the jungle. The building also has a dormitory with bunk beds, where visitors can choose to stay overnight. They also provide traditional meals in the cafeteria made from fresh local produce. So spending a whole day in Kanneliya forest resort looking at the attractions is such a marvelous experience that you can ever have.