Sinharaja Rain Forest – Detailed Guide

November 11, 2020

Sinharaja Rainforest

Some people want to be close to nature and want to bathe in natural water bodies. If that’s YOUR plan, then you must go to Sinharaja Rainforest. Break free from the plastic world, and enter the most promising island. Sinharaja Rain Forest is known for its oozing beauty. The flowing streams and lush greenery are calling you!

Sri Lanka is an island that offers you a multitude of activities. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, there are a number of national parks. In case you enjoy drinking tea, the tea estate is a fabulous place to be. Just in case you want some beach fun, there are a number of beaches. Some couples and families want to experience true luxury and so, they can stay in one of the prime resorts that has private pool villas.

Sinharaja Rain Forest, considered as the last primary forest on the island, is located in the low-lying wetland of southwestern Sri Lanka. This rainforest, which contains an incredible variety of flora and fauna, stretches over a series of valleys and ridges crossed by a multitude of rivers, between 200 and 1300 meters above sea level.

A walk in this evergreen rainforest and a swim in the waterfall will leave you with an unforgettable experience! Here is an elaborate post on Sinharaja Rainforest. We would be delighted to share all the information with our beloved readers!

It will help you to plan your tour in a systematic fashion. So, gear up for the upcoming adventure and grab a bowl of popcorn. We promise to fill your mind with useful information. Plus, you might just get tempted to visit Sri Lanka just to see the beauty of Sinharaja Rainforest.

About Sinharaja

Sinharaja has long withstood logging because of its inaccessibility, before becoming a world biosphere reserve in 1978, then a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Before that, this strip of forest (21 km long and 3.7 km wide) was only a tiny part of the great jungle that covered the hills of southwestern Sri Lanka over more than 100,000 hectares.

The Sinharaja Rain Forest reserve is a miraculous sketch of what was once the forest cover of the island, before it gave way to the large plantations of coffee, rubber and tea. The average height of the trees varies between 30 and 45 meters, and the proportion of endemic species is staggering. Of the 211 trees and lianas identified, 139 are endemic to Sri Lanka, while of the 25 endemic ferns in the country, 13 are in the reserve.

If we talk about the animal species, there are in total 830 species of flora and fauna at Sinharaja. In other words, this rainforest holds sheer beauty. You will find birds and reptiles of all kinds! Bird photographers will be overjoyed to be here because they can spot birds of different colors. You might even hear a bird singing here!

Birds sing when they are relaxed and chirpy. They might be calling their mate or they are just in a good mood! Ornithologists believe that birds sing early in the morning because there is less activity and noise outside. At Sinharaja, the birds get plenty of reasons to sing. Maybe they are just trying to attract their mate or want to put up a show for you.

No matter what the reason is, Sinharaja will welcome you with open arms. The question is – How to reach Sinharaja? There are many questions hovering over your mind. We shall be answering every query in this post. Let’s begin with modes of transportation.

How to Reach Sinharaja?

There are two entrances: Waddagala and Deniyaya.

The first entrance is easier to access if you arrive from the North-West, the second is best if you come from the South.

  • By bus

If you are away from the pre-mentioned entrances, you can opt for taking a bus to get to Sinharaja. The price would be about 180 roupees ($2.4) per person. A journey may take long hours depending on where you are staying.

  • By tuk-tuk

If you are staying inside Deniyaya or Waddagala, you will then go for a tuk-tuk. It will cost you about 200 rupees ($2.7) to get to the Rainforest Lodge.

In case you are in Colombo, plan a day tour to Sinharaja Rainforest. Choose a legit tour guide operator and they will show you the best Sinharaja has to offer. To reach the entrance of Sinharaja, it takes about 3 hours. Ideally, most of the Sinharaja tours start early in the morning. You will be leaving from Colombo at 5 AM.

Note – Please have your breakfast before leaving or carry your breakfast along with you. Ideally, eat it while you are traveling. Eating in the rainforest and littering is not recommended. The Sinharaja Rainforest trekking trip lasts for about 5 hours. Since you will be walking inside the rainforest, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

This brings us to another question – Why should you be visiting Sinharaja Rainforest? We will give you five reasons to visit the rainforest.

Five Reasons to Visit Sinharaja Forest

Since this is a complete guide, we would like to share each and every detail with you. Sinharaja Rainforest is undoubtedly beautiful, but there is more to it.

Unspoiled Natural Beauty

Among the forests of Sri Lanka, it is certainly the most beautiful. Start by a simple walk in Sinharaja and you will be immediately amazed! The fabulous characteristics of Sinharaja result from exceptional natural benefits. Dependent on an important hydrography, it has many valleys. The micro-flora present in the soil is very adapted to the proliferation of plant species.

You will find mammals, reptiles, insects, birds, and all kinds of flowers and trees here. It is a visual treat for sore eyes! If you ever plan to head to Sri Lanka, this is the place you need to explore. Yes, it requires a lot of walking, but you will enjoy the process. Since the natural beauty is intoxicating, you will not even feel tired.

Its flora is extraordinary

Why do you think people go to a forest? Isn’t it to see plants, among others? The main richness of Sinharaja is its superb vegetation, indeed. Extremely lush, it will charm you every time. If Sinharaja were a football team, his jersey would be green. You will be full of admiration for his fantastic canopy.

There you will be privileged. You will see 16 very rare endemic species like calamus, caryota, and shorea. It is almost a record. For those who have already been to West Africa, you will see among the 830 flora species of the forest the famous oil palm. It is an invaluable and highly sought after wealth that will be within your reach.

An adorable fauna lives there

Similar to a humanitarian center, the bright vegetation of Sinharaja welcomes a bunch of animals. Forest density can easily scare away an uninformed visitor. Yet, your ability to read between the lines will allow you to discover a magical show! You will witness an exceptional zoology. Imperial leopards will be visible, which generally do not allow to be disturbed by the movements of footsteps and the crackling of the cameras.

However, do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the swells of admiration, they remain wild animals! In heaven, it is an incessant ballet of contingents of birds that will keep you breathless. Reptiles, butterflies and amphibians will also be in the game. Bird photographers will get a visual treat here. There are a number of birds that fly around in the dense rainforest. Do you want to get a glimpse of the beautiful birds? Here’s a video that showcases the different birds you can find within the rainforest. Notice the colors on them and the peace in their eyes.

Hopping from one branch to another, bathing in the rain, and trying to find the perfect fruit to feast on.

You can find the following birds here:

  • Emerald Dove
  • Besra
  • Orange Minivet
  • Nuthatch
  • Sri Lankan Drongo
  • Sunbird
  • Square-tailed Bulbul
  • Legge’s Flowerpecker
  • Hanging Parrot
  • Lesser Goldenback
  • Yellow-fronted Barbet

The list goes on, actually. You will find a variety of birds here! Perhaps bird photographers would need to spend the entire day in the rainforest to capture the beauty of all the birds. Please ensure that you do not turn your flash on. Also, maintain safe distance from the birds and do not shout or scream. It is the habitat of reptiles and birds! Never disturb them while they are resting or enjoying the rain.

It is a magnificent botanical conservation site

Human encroachment on the land of biodiversity has created many problems. Countless species are threatened today. Science therefore needs a truly protected space to allow for the reconstitution of endangered plant populations. The Sinharaja reserve is the right place to do that. Hence, you can experiment and conserve. It is much protected and therefore very conducive. Many laws are made to make this reserve a real strength.

You can do trekking there

The illustration is the best way to appropriate certain situations. Nothing beats a hike in this reserve. It is the door open to all fantasies. An immersion that you will not soon forget! You will be in touch with many jewels placed at your disposal by nature! There are two villages to the west of the reserve, Parankandeniya and Kolomthota. You can visit there.

 It will be an opportunity to see new lifestyles, while remaining in touch with biodiversity. The sharing of culture that you will witness will surely edify you! Although Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination to visit all through the year, but there is a specific peak season for every coast. The next question that comes to your mind is the following – When should I visit Sinharaja Rainforest?

Find the answer in the next section!

Before you move forward, check out this video which was shot in the year 2017. You can find that the travelers witnessed a number of birds and reptiles. Even though it is raining, the travelers are enjoying the brilliant weather and the lush greenery. That’s the USP of Sinharaja Rainforest – the never-ending greenery! It is breathtaking for anyone who enjoys watching nature from up close.

Here’s another video for all you readers!

The vlogger explored the rainforest and captured the true beauty of the rainforest. She has covered every beautiful aspect of Sinharaja. Don’t skip the video! When you see the vlog, you will find that the trek is quite exciting. Travelers have to trek till the waterfall! You can dip your feet in the water and even find some rare reptiles around the area. Once again, you should ensure that you wear trekking gear such as walking shoes and comfortable clothing.

Exploring The Rivers And Animals In Sinharaja

The waterways in Sinharaja flow into the famous Gin River. This is towards the Southern boundary of Sinharaja. It goes into Kalu Ganga via Kudawa Ganga, Napola Dola, and Koskulana Ganga towards the Northern boundary. You will find small water bodies as well as waterfalls within the acres of land. That’s why the mammals and birds enjoy being here because they have unlimited fresh water supply! On second thoughts, travelers love the waterfalls in Sinharaja. These are great spots to click Insta-worthy pictures.

Tourists from all over the globe visit Sinharaja and they demand to see the waterfalls inside the rainforest. It is a true highlight! You can dip in your feet, breathe fresh air, and sing with the birds. It is extremely peaceful and blissful for nature lovers! If you are wondering what animals are present within the rainforest, you can find wild pigs, mouse deer, Indian elephant, purple-face langur, and fishing cat. Yes, Sri Lanka houses the magnificent leopard too, but the sightings are rare within the rainforest.

Please note that it is safe to walk inside the rainforest, but you should take the help of a tour guide. The most commonly spotted animal in Sinharaja is the barking deer. Beware of the snakes that slither around the rainforest. They will not harm you unless you harm them. Cobras, lizards, and vipers are quite common in the rainforest.

Best Time to Visit Sinharaja

The Sinharaja Rain Forest is a tropical forest; there is not necessarily a better period. It can therefore be explored all year round, but it is true that if it rains, the visit will not necessarily be pleasant. On the other hand, your chances of spotting scorpions will be higher.

If we were to recommend a period, the driest months are August and September and from January to early April. It is relatively good in the Sinharaja forest, the average temperature is 24°C with a humidity of 87%.

What to Wear?

Among the friendly little beasts that live in the forest, there are leeches! So, if you are not fan of getting your blood sucked, cover yourself! Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. If you are still insistent on wearing sleeveless blouses and shorts, you must ensure that you are taking careful steps. A tour guide will come along with you so it will be easy to navigate. Leech attacks are common, but travelers can wear whatever they like.

However, it is strongly recommended to wear long pants (leggings style) over a good pair of socks (diapers will prevent leeches from passing). Also, remember to take good walking shoes. Good-quality shoes matter! You will be walking around the rainforest for 4-5 hours which means you need the most comfortable pair of shoes. Avoid open shoes because the leeches can attack your foot. Also, there are stones, pebbles, and muck in the rainforest. You would not want your feet to get dirty or injured!

Finally, in a rainforest, your best friend will be your K-way. Wear whatever you like, but be careful. Since it is a rainforest, your skin is exposed to reptiles, moisture, and bird droppings.

Exploring The Five Entrances

In total, there are five entrances that you will discover.

1. Kudawa

2. Morning Side

3. Pitadeniya

4. Lankagama

5. Samangala (new addition)

The most famous is the Pitadeniya entrance. You need to come from Deniyaya. It is one of the most famous and oldest entrances of Sinharaja Rainforest. In this area, you will be exploring three waterfalls. That’s right!

The waterfalls you will discover from Pitadeniya entrance is:

  • Pathan Waterfall
  • Malmora Waterfall
  • Kakuna Waterfall

You can also visit Lankagama entrance just by walking through the rainforest. It is indeed a wonderful experience!

How to Discover Sinharaja?

There are many possibilities of treks, 3 hours, 6 hours or even the whole day. Just tell your guide what you want to see.

The guide, precisely! It is indispensable! It is simple; he knows the forest and knows very well where the animals live. For example, he can easily spot a viper that may be sitting quietly in some place there. Also, do not forget that you are in a rainforest and therefore some animals can be very dangerous. The guide knows how to react to problems.

We have seen travelers who set out on an expedition alone. It is not the wisest idea! You must take a tour guide with you. They will tell you about the best entrance and will also take you to the best waterfalls. Ideally, you must be exploring every waterfall in Sinharaja.

Where To Stay?

There are some options for travelers to stay near the Sinharaja Rainforest. You can also stay in Colombo and come for a day tour. But, if you want to stay close to nature, there are a couple of lodges around here. We can recommend some to you! You can choose as per the budget and personal preferences.

1. Rainforest Eco Lodge – Did you know that the villas are made of containers? That’s right! The villas are comfortable and are quite spacious. All you can hear is the chirping of birds.

2. Rainforest Mount Lodge – This is a nature-loving lodge located in Deniyaya. You can also go for guided nature walks. The rooms have massive balconies through which you can see the mist outside. On second thoughts, it can be a wonderful place to stay for a romantic getaway.

3. Sinharaja Vini Villa – You will get complimentary transport till the Sinharaja rainforest entrance gate. The villa is owned by a family and they offer generous services to the guests. If you want a peaceful abode the for the next 3-4 days, choose Sinharaja Vini Villa.

4. Blue Magpie Lodge – This is another option for tourists. It is closer to the North entrance and offers a stellar view to the guests. The cool breeze and humming of birds will fill your heart with fond feelings. You can stay here with your group as the rooms are decent and are not as expensive. Some of the units have a terrace or a balcony. You can check with the property!

If you want to visit Sinharaja for half a day, consider staying at Colombo or any other place. You can choose a tour guide who would pick you up from the hotel and drive you till the rainforest. Everything can be planned as per your convenience!

But, if you find time, do stay at one of the hotels/lodges in the area. You cannot miss the misty weather near Sinharaja Rainforest. It is a beautiful sight for travelers. You might not even feel like going back where you came from.

Concluding Thoughts

Let’s summarize the elaborate post for you. We will take you through the important details.

You will explore the following inside the rainforest:

  • 150+ species of birds (singing birds, colorful birds, and more)
  • Over 19 species of fishes (present in the rivers of Sinharaja)
  • 7 waterfalls inside Sinharaja Rainforest
  • Rare and common reptiles
  • Lush greenery (your guide will tell you about all the famous trees and flowers inside the rainforest)

You must beware of the leeches inside the rainforest.

Speaking of leeches, there are some pointers that you need to keep in mind (about rainforests):

  • Rainforests have a tropical climate. The name itself is a giveaway. ‘Tropical’ means the weather remains humid and warm. However, in Sinharaja, there is mist and rain time and again.
  • Always get in touch with a guide. Although there are signs that guide you to different spots at the rainforest, but it is advisable to take a local guide along with you. They have been doing the job for years and can tell you more about the plants and trees at Sinharaja.
  • Do your homework before heading to a rainforest. Even though the guide will tell you everything about the rainforest, but never have a clean slate before going. To have a general familiarity is important!
  • Enjoy the experience but also be cautious. The surroundings are new to you! You can have fun, but since it is a rainforest and all types of species can be found here, you need to be careful.
  • Maintaining silence in the rainforest is one way to enjoy yourself. You are not in a club! How about witnessing nature’s beauty? Loud talking can scare the animal species around you. Be quiet and hear the sounds of nature. It is quite satisfying.
  • Animal encounters can be scary. It is good to start for your hiking trip in the morning hours. In the dusk and dawn, there are more chances of coming in contact with insects and snakes. Here’s another reason for you to take a guide along: for your safety.
  • Wear supremely comfortable shoes because it will be a long walk. Ideally, wear something that does not give you a shoe bite. Open shoes should be avoided at all costs! An insect or leech can attack your feet. Some insects love the taste of human blood! Hence, wear shoes that give you a snug fit.
  • Never jump in any lake or waterfall. It is not allowed! Yes, you can dip your feet into the water body, but usually swimming under waterfalls is considered safe. Ask your guide whether you can swim in the water body or not. They will give you the best advice! The rules differ from one place to another.

It is important to hire a good tour guide operator because the rainforest is massive. We hope the article helped you to get a gist of what to expect from Sinharaja Rainforest. So, book a day tour to Sinharaja and don’t forget to carry your NO-FLASH cameras. Please remember to be respectful towards the birds, reptiles and mammals.

Additionally, you must never venture out on your own. A tour guide explains everything that is within the rainforest. Plan your tour and get ready for one of the best tours of your life.


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Hi, I am Richard, I moved to Sri Lanka with my family in 2016. We launched the website so we can share what we experience, learn with anyone interested in visiting Sri Lanka. The country is such an amazing island. I invite all of you to be here at least once in your lifetime.