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sinharaja rain forest sri lanka

Nature trails in the Sinharaja Rainforest Sri Lanka 

PioneerLogoThere is no better place in Sri Lanka for a bird enthusiast than the Sinharaja Rainforest. This virgin rainforest is a designated UNSECO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, due to the high degree of endemism found in the plant, bird and reptilian life that call it home.

 

History and Description of the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve in Sri Lanka

Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and then a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Sinharaja is one of the best biodiversity hotspots in Sri Lanka. It is a frequently visited nature reserve that has a colorful mythological past.

This rainforest is intrinsically linked to the legends of the first Sri Lankans; in fact the name Sinharaja derives from the Sinhalese ‘kingdom of the lion’. It is said that the Sinhalese race was born out of the   union of the princess and the lion king and it is believed that they had lived in Sinharaja itself.  

The forest covers an area of approximately 11,200 hectares, measuring 21 kilometres from east to west and from north to south just less than four kilometres. The Sinharaja Rainforest is situated in the southwest lowland Wet Zone of Sri Lanka and the elevation ranges from 200 to 1,300 metres. It is noted for being a habitat for 95 percent of the endemic birds found in Sri Lanka.

Fauna and Flora in the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve

The Sinharaja Rainforest will leave a nature enthusiast quite bedazzled.  Birders particularly will have an astonishing range of avifauna to observe. The rare birds are the Red-faced Malkoha, the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, the Ashy-headed Babbler and the White-headed Starling. The Green-billed Coucal is considered the rarest. Another interesting display is the presence of mixed species of foraging bird flocks, which is a phenomenon commonly found in rainforests.  100 flocks have been systematically observed, and studies have revealed that some flocks contained 48 species including 12 endemics.

Herpetologically, Sinharaja will not disappoint. The Green Pit Viper and Hump-nosed Viper are commonly found in Sinharaja and are endemic.  Other endemics include the Torrent toad and the Common House toad. The Wrinkled frog and the Sri Lankan Reed frog are also found here. Green Garden Lizards are commonly observed on nature treks.  Calotes Liolepis is an arboreal species and the rarest of all agamids found on the island.  

The flora of Sinharaja displays a high degree of endemism. Of the 211 woody trees and lianas identified, a staggering 139 (66 percent) are endemic to Sri Lanka. Out of the 25 ferns which are endemic to the island, 13 have been recorded in the Sinharaja Rainforest. The total vegetation density has been estimated to be around 240,000 plants per hectare.

The Sambar deer, Mouse Deer, Barking Deer, Brown Mongoose and Golden Palm Civet are the mammalian species most commonly seen. The Purple-faced Leaf Monkey is virtually omnipresent as well.  It is estimated that 15 Sri Lankan Leopards and a small herd of Sri Lankan Elephants also inhabit the forest but sightings are exceedingly rare.

 

 

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January 2017

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