In Search of Leopards, Wildlife & Culture
Sinharaja Forest Reserve, covering 88 square kilometres in Sri Lanka's rain drenched South Western corner, is the country's last area of the primary (unlogged) lowland rain forest. A jewel of endemic species the forest here can truly be said to be unique. UNESCO recognized its importance in 1988, declaring the area a World Heritage Site.
Occupying a long East-West ridge, this area was long protected from the logging industry by its remote location. The park receives 3½ - 5 meters of rainfall per year (falling mainly in May to July) and these damp conditions ensure the presence of mist covered hills, streams and numerous waterfalls that the park is famous for.
A relic of ancient Gondwanaland, Sinharaja is a focal point of Sri Lankan endemic species. For bird watchers this is especially true. This reserve boasts more species (282) of birds than the much larger Yala National Park, but is less than 10% of the size. Out of 20 endemic birds in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja has 19, including the green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie. Birds in this forest are also noted for their interesting habit of moving in mixed feeding flocks, often lead by the somewhat cocky greater racket-tailed drongo and orange-billed babbler. Sometimes up to 6 endemic species are recorded in one flock.
The forest is also noted for its extremely tall primary rainforest trees that sometimes reach up to 45m above the forest floor and for dense (again often endemic) vegetation. It is also known for the presence of many mammal species including leopards, elephants, barking deer and purple-faced langurs. The langurs are the easiest of the mammals to spot, but due to dense rainforest conditions, the spotting of mammals here should be considered a bonus. Almost half of Sinharaja's 45 reptile species are considered endemic, with snakes including the green pit viper, krait and Sri Lankan keelback water snake. Please also note that due to wet conditions leeches can sometimes be a problem.
The only way to move around this rarely visited wonderland is on the park's extensive system of trails. With Aqua-Firma, you can be sure this will be with expert local guides so that you won't miss things and can be impressively informed about the many special species this location unlocks. Walking through this inspiring ancient forest, this is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts, birdwatchers and just anyone who wants to experience the full diversity of Sri Lanka's natural world.
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