The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, considered to be the last remaining primary tropical rainforest of the island, is situated in the south-west lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. The rainforest, which contains an unbelievable variety of flora and fauna, extends across a series of small valleys and ridges, crossed by a multitude of streams, at an altitude between 200 and 1300 meters.
Sinharaja long resisted logging due to its inaccessibility, before becoming a world biosphere reserve in 1978, then a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. But before that, this forest belt (21 km long and 3.7 km wide) was only a small part of the large 100,000 ha jungle that covered the valleys in the southwest region of Sri Lanka. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a miraculous sketch of what was once previously the forest cover of the island, before it gave way for the cultivation of coffee, rubber, and tea.
The average height of trees varies between 30 and 45 meters, and the proportion of endemism is stupefying. Out of 211 identified trees and creepers, 139 are endemic to Sri Lanka, whereas out of 25 ferns endemic to the country, 13 are found in the reserve.
The formidable density of the vegetation of the jungle makes it difficult to observe animals. The endemism of the fauna is also higher than 50%. We estimate that a small herd of elephants and about 15 leopards live in the depths of the jungle. But we will see more giant squirrels and flying squirrels, monkeys, serpents, funny tree frogs of various colours, some 65 species of butterflies, and not to mention the inevitable leeches.
Birds represent more than half of the endemic animal species of the Sinharaja reserve. Moreover, you can observe the amazing phenomenon of a mixed flock of birds more than anywhere else. The curiosity that is to see different species of birds flying together exists in other climates, but it is more common and spectacular in this tropical forest. Flocks of about one hundred birds are often seen in the Sinharaja Reserve Forest and some can be made up of more than 40 different species.
There is a mysterious atmosphere in Sinharaja, especially when the rays of sunlight pierce through the forest canopy to illuminate the underwood, accompanied by the marvellous sounds of the fauna. Trails are maintained to allow visitors to visit the forest securely, but the help of a guide is necessary.