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Sinharaja Rainforest

The last surviving stretch of virgin rainforest in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is a UNESCO International Man and Biosphere Reserve, a moist and muggy, murky and mysterious land of exotic colours and wonderful sounds. Trekking here is a truly enriching experience: accompanied by nothing but the sound of gushing waterfalls, gurgling streams and rustling leaves, look out for exotic birds, vibrant reptiles and eye-catching butterflies moving through the trees and absorb the atmosphere of utter tranquillity as your surroundings stir the senses. 73 native species have so far been identified in Sinharaja Rainforest, including birds, butterflies, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, making it a world-famous hotspot for biodiversity.

History of Sinharaja Rainforest

Located in the southwest corner of Sri Lanka, 40km inland from the historic city of Galle, Sinharaja straddles a series of mountains and ridges in the country’s wet zone and contains a number of streams, waterfalls and fresh-water springs which flow into the Gin Ganga on the southern boundary and Kalu Ganga to the north. The Sinharaja region has long played an important role in the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka: folklorists believe that the name of the forest, which literally means ‘lion king’, suggests its significance as the primary home of the legendary lion of Sri Lanka. Other less romantic historians believe that the name refers to Sinharaja’s role as the ‘king-sized’ or ‘royal’ forest of the Sinhalese people, at a time when over 100,000 hectares of wet evergreen jungle covered the south-western hills and lowlands of Sri Lanka. Since that time, with much of the land having been cultivated by both colonial settlers and local inhabitants for tea estates and other forms of enterprise, the thin sliver of forest (21km long and 3.7km wide) that remains is but a glimpse of its former glory. Only relatively recently was the urgency of conserving this precious segment of land was seriously recognised when it was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1976. In 1989 UNESCO seconded this move and made it a World Heritage Site in 1989.

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