Sinharaja Rain Forest is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This beauty of the world was originally declared a forest reserve in 1875 and due to its international importance, it was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the endemic trees and almost 50% of endemic wildlife of Sri Lanka attracts thousands of visitors giving them the opportunity to experience this value of Sinharaja.
The location of the Sinharaja Rain Forest is in the South Western part of the island and covers an area of 11,187 ha Sinharaja Forest Reserve is bordering three districts of the island, namely Galle, Matara and Ratnapura districts. The Rakwana Massif with its mountain ranges is part of the area covered by Sinharaja rain forest. 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. It is situated 172.1 km from Colombo via the Southern Expressway and is accessible from any of its three entrances; Pitadeniya, Kudawa and Morning Side. This treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals trot out the beauty of Sinharaja to the world.
Sinharaja, world heritage location receives between 3000-6000 mm of rain throughout the year and have a minimum rainfall of over 200 mm even during non- monsoon periods. The forest reserve benefits from both monsoon rainfalls – the south-west between May-July and north-east between November-January each year. The mean temperature is between 18-27 degrees Celsius with a humidity of 75% – 90%. Two important rivers; namely the Gin and Kalu Ganga (Rivers) and many other waterways are fed and nourished by the waters that flow from this verdant forest reserve. Only a faint sunshine reaches the ground layer of the forest which ranges from 5% – 15% of the total sunlight.
Sinharaja Rain Forest is an incredibly enigmatic territory, an enchanting and complete escape for the adventurous. The main attraction of this virgin forest is the incredible biodiversity in Sinharaja that inhabits its wet dark terrain. This tropical rainforest believed to be home for almost 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic wildlife draws thousands of visitors wanting to explore and experience this natural wonder that is rich in endemism, an inevitable treasure trove bursting with various species of flora and fauna. It contains many endemic plants, animals, and birds, including some 139 varieties of Sri Lanka’s 830 endemic trees.
Fauna in Sinharaja
Within the dark womb of Sinharaja, you will find the intriguing phenomenon of the birds moving in mixed feeding flocks. According to naturalists, it is in Sinharaja that you find the most varied of these flocks and a magnificent bird diversity. Out of the 384 birds recorded in the Island, 282 (73 %) reside with the people’s attraction of Sinharaja. From the 26 birds endemic to the Island, the 20 rainforest species live here. This includes the shy, elusive and distinctly patterned red-faced malkoha, green billed coucal and the Sri Lanka blue magpie.
Though only three elephants and 15 leopards reside in this forest, you will find a wealth of smaller animals yet interesting, rare jewel-like wildlife not to be found anywhere else in the world. In addition to birds, many other species endemic to Sri Lanka can be seen in Sinharaja. Camping out would mean an encounter with snails,
spiders, agamids, frogs, and toads as well as snakes that call the lush wet undergrowth home. With luck, you may see the native red slender loris with magnified eyes and smaller wild cats.
Flora in Sinharaja
The flora of Sinharaja is just as rich and vivid. The dominant trees are huge, growing as tall as 50m. Out of the 211 woody trees and lianas so far identified within the reserve 139 (66 %) are endemic. The vegetation of Sinharaja may be described either as a tropical lowland rainforest or tropical wet evergreen forest. The average height of the different trees varies between 35m – 40m while some rise even up to 50m. The vegetation of Sinharaja is that of humid wet evergreen forest type with a high degree of endemism. In fact, some families such as Dipterocarpaceae show an endemism of more than 90%. The untapped genetic potential of Sinharaja flora is enormous. Out of the 211 woody trees and lianas so far identified within the reserve 139 (66%) are endemic. Tree layers in Sinharaja forest, the total vegetation density, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and seedlings have been estimated to be around 240,000 individuals per hectare, of which 95% comprise individuals of the ground layer below 1m in height.
There are 8 very beautiful waterfalls and unlimited waterways at Pitadeniya enterence to Sinharaja forest. Those are Kekuna falls, Pathanoya falls, Malmora falls, Brahmana falls, Galdoru falls, Uran Wetuna falls, Thattu falls and Dhoowili falls. All those waterfalls and categories in Sri Lankan major waterfalls list and you can see various sceneries in various angles. Some waterfalls are very higher and some are narrow once. Dhoowili fall is a most beautiful waterfall in Sinharaja and Galdoru fall is the somewhat different shape of waterfalls.
In Sinharaja rain forest there is several places to visit in Pitadeniya (Southern) Entrance which are recognized as tourists’ attractions of Sinharaja. There are about 8 beautiful waterfalls you can see in the Pitadeniya entrance. And also conservation resource center, Wathugala hanging bridge, Thudawa camp, Lions rock and another various endemic and another resource at Sinharaja Rainforest. If you are in a visit to Sri Lanka, do not miss the opportunity to see this valuable forest of the world.