Sinharaja Rainforest - 3 Tips - Entrances and Hiking Trails

Sinharaja Rainforest - 3 Tips - Entrances and Hiking Trails

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

When Is the Best Time

Where there is rainforest, there is rain, and it frequently rains here at Sinharaja, therefore nature and wildlife are exceptionally full of endemic plants and animals. I have rarely visited such a unique World Heritage Site.

Green leaves with a red fringe

The best times to visit Sinharaja with less precipitation are January to March and August, September. However, if you visit Sri Lanka, it's a must to come here with a minimum stay of one night rather two.

A colourful lizard in Sinharaja

Sinharaja is a biodiversity hotspot with endemic trees, wildlife, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. One of the rare places with a stunning primary tropical rainforest. Although Sri Lanka has many beautiful places, Sinharaja is the most outstanding of all.

Weather

View to the Sinharaja Rainforest
Sinharaja is situated on different elevations.

The Sinharaja rainforest is affected by the southwest monsoon with heavy rainfall from May to July and the northeast monsoon from November to January. Driest months and the best time to travel from January/February until March. April and August to October expect more precipitation but still worth a try.

Hiking Trail and wooden bridge above a stream
One of the hiking trails inside the park

Located at the island’s wet zone, rain can always occur also in the drier season. The annual rainfall ranges from 3000 up to 6000 mm. Night temps are above 20°C/ 68° F and day temps are almost 30° C/  86° F with an average humidity of 85%.

A frogmouth hiding in the dense forest
The nocturnal frogmouth is rare to spot.

Needless to say for watching birds, you need to be there very early when the park opens at 6 in the morning. To spot a nocturnal frogmouth during the day, ask your guide. Usually, they know where to find this rare to spot nightjars.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

More Places About

Location and Tips

Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Sinharaja has been a World Biosphere Reserve since 1978 and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Parts of the primary forest were saved from commercial logging by its inaccessibility. The amazing rainforest is only 21 km long and between 3 to 7 km wide.

Tree branches full of thorns
You shouldn't get too close to these branches.

Sinharaja starts already 90 m above sea level and goes up to an elevation of 1.170 m. This forest and the secondary lowland rainforest are a treasure trove for endemic mammals, birds, butterflies, and reptiles. It's a birders paradise, too.

Four different bird species in one tree
Do you see the four different bird species in one tree? A paradise flycatcher is in the middle.

There are about 160 bird species, with roughly 30 endemic birds. The birding highlights are the elusive red-faced malkoha we spotted on the top of a tree, the beautiful Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and the night-active frogmouth.

The colourful blue magpie sitting on a branch
My favourite bird of all the Blue Magpie.

Sinharaja is very well known for the phenomenon of moving birds in mixed feeding flocks. The tropical rainforest is home to 45 species of reptiles; more than 20 are endemic, like the green pit viper.

Green Pit Viper in Sinharaja
Green Pit Viper - One of the venomous snakes in Sinharaja

Beware of leeches; they occur in abundance even in the dry season. Protect your legs; long trouser only is not enough. I had a blood-sucking leech on my calf. Nowadays, you get leech socks at the office of the entrance.

Where to Stay in Sinharaja

Accommodation Sinharaja

It's a long and bumpy drive to Sinharaja. You get to the rainforest on foot only. It is advisable to stay either at the border or nearby to be early morning at 6 am at Sinharaja for birdwatching. 

  • The Rainforest Mount Lodge close to the Sinharaja border, the southeast entrance is perfectly located and offers guided walks. We spent here two nights, and even this was much too short for this outstanding nature experience.
  • Another outstanding lodge is the Sinharaja Rainforest Vini Villa directly at the Sinharaja southeast entrance.
  • If you come from the north there are fewer options for a comfy stay. The only one we can recommend close to the north entrance with lots of birds around is the Blue Magpie Lodge Sinharaja.

3 Must-Know Tips

A leech on my sock trying to find a hole to the leg
Take precaution for leeches and you are fine.
  1. To get the most out of your trip, you need a guide with English skills, knowledge, and passion. Either ask in your lodge for an experienced guide or check the skills of the guide at the entrance. Most of them do an excellent job with passion, but unfortunately not all of them. We were lucky with our guide. 
  2. Buy leech socks at the office of the entrance for about RS 350 - less than 2 € Even in the dry season it's a good investment. Just in case bring salt if one of the bloodsuckers got you. Despite my socks were above the trouser one of them got me.
  3. There are three different entrances. IMO, the southeast and the north offer the best experiences. More information is in the next heading.
     

3 Entrances and Hiking Trails

Purple-faced langur sitting on a branch
Purple.faced langurs can be spotted
  1. Northern Entrance - Kudava, Weddagala coming from Udawalawa takes roughly 3 hours

    View from Sinhagala Peak to Sinharaja
    You can walk and climb to the Sinhagala Peak and the Moulawella Peak from this entrance. One of the hikes we did offering jaw-dropping views.
  2. South Entrance - The Galle District
    Lilac orchid in Sinharaja
    The rainforest is full of colourful orchids and other flowers.
    From this entrance, you get to the Neluwa Doowili Ella Falls.
  3. South East Entrance - The Matara District close to Deniyaya 
    Three tiny bats hanging in a dead tree trunk
    These endemic nocturnal bats occur in Sinharaja.
    Also, an excellent entrance to spot lots of endemic species. You can hike to several waterfalls from here, too.

In the end, it doesn't matter which entrance you choose; it depends on where you are coming from. Every visit is different but for sure spectacular and fascinating.

Packing List

Our hike with the guide through Sinharaja
Our guide to the left had shown us something special every few minutes.
  • Plenty of water and a snack, no shop inside the park
  • Rainproof jacket, frequent showers occur
  • Mosquito net (we always have our own in our bag)
  • Binoculars, to spot birds in the canopy
  • Zoom Camera for excellent pictures

Endemic lilac flowers

If you wish to use any of my pictures, please, get in contact with me.

Comments

Micha Herber-Bleich

Sinharaja is a must on your vacation in Sri Lanka. The biodiversity is immense. We spotted so much in such a short time. We hiked to the top of the Sinhagala. That took us a couple of hours although the trail is more or less 3 km long. Our guide had shown us many lizards, frogs, birds, endemic plants and trees. The 360° view was amazing. You even spot rare birds before you enter the park.

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…