Amongst the many things to do in Kalutara, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a great place for the nature lover. The UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is located just a short drive away from many good hotels and resorts such as Anantara Kalutara Resort and several distinguished others if you are looking to stay a bit longer in this beautiful tropical setting.
The name “Sinharaja” in itself means lion kingdom and legend has it that the original Sinhala people descended from a union between a princess and a mighty lion. The forest holds an important place for Sri Lankan people and has even been mentioned by the famous 14th Century Arab traveller, Ibn Battuta. Some claim the reserve was once considered royal territory by the ancient kings, filled with lions.
This lowland rainforest is referred to by many as a treasure trove of nature, its inhabitants ranging in diversity from insects, amphibians and reptiles, birds and mammals to trees and all sorts of other vegetation.
Sinharaja is a narrow strip of winding landscape covering an extent of approximately 18,900 acres, with crystal clear cool water streams flowing intricately into the three rivers along the borders. The average height of the dominating trees varies between 35-40 metres, certain trunks rising even all the way up to 50 metres. The bulk of Sinharaja flora consists of trees, shrubs, seedlings and herbs at an estimated 240,000 plants per hectare.
In terms of the fauna of Sinharaja, sightings of leopards, though rare, have occurred. Sambhur Deer, Mouse Deer and Barking Deer are common finds, as well as the Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey. Bird watching would be a treat as the reserve is home to 19 out of the 20 endemic bird species of Sri Lanka, including the Ceylon Hanging Parrot, Ceylon Blue Magpie as well as the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill to name a few. The green-pit viper and hump-nosed viper are prominent reptiles to be found in the reserve.The recommended season to visit the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is from December to April.
Damon Starky is a creative nomadic travel writer, who is well informed and experienced on a wide range of interests that would connect to the needs of any type of traveler.Google+