Sinharaja forest reserve is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rain forest in Sri Lanka - actually the last big one left, as this vegetation once dominated the whole hill country which now is mainly plantations.
It was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) in 1978,as representative of tropical humid evergreen forest Eco system in Sri Lanka and has been recognized by UNESCO as part of it's International Network of Biosphere reserves. It was declared a National wilderness area in 1988 and lately a world heritage site in 1989.
This forest covers an extent of about 11187 hectares from east to west .The length of the forest is about 21km and width from North to South is about 3.7km.
Flora and fauna
Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala. There are only a few elephants and leopards; the fact that walking safaris are allowed shows that the chance of meeting them is minimal. The most common larger mammal is the endemic purple-faced langur. Birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless greater racket-tailed drongo and the noisy orange-billed babbler. Of Sri Lanka's 26 endemic birds, the 20 rainforest species all occur here, including the elusive red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie. Reptiles include the endemic green pit viper and hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic common birdwing, butterfly and leeches.
The park has an annual rainfall of 1,500 millimetres, most of which falls during the months of October to January and March to May. The average annual temperature is about 27–28 °C (81–82 °F), while relative humidity varies from 70% to 82%.
There are two main entrances. The northern one, at Kudawa, is reachable from Kalutara and Ratnapura. It has bad public transport connectivity. Accomodations on this side tend to be more high-end. The southern one is off Deniyaya, where more low-end accomodation can be found; Deniyaya has decent bus connections from Matara-Akuressa and Galle-Akuressa.
The entrance price is Rs 660. In addition you need to hire a tracker/guide, price around Rs 1,000 per group.
It's walking safaris only; expect flora and smaller (insect/reptile/bird) like fauna, hardly bigger animals. Some climbing treks, with upto 200-300 meters ascend on rocky paths, are also in the park – and lovely waterfalls too.
It is best to start a trek early morning, due to the wildlife behaviour and the risk of afternoon rains. Prepare well for the abundant leeches in the park!
Do not attempt to smuggle out plants or animals from the reserve, violators will face jail term and may need to pay heavy fines