Rainforests and National Parks in Sri Lanka – Wildlife And A Brief History
Most of Sri Lanka’s rainforests are located on the western and southern slopes of the island and are truly worth a visit. These rainforests are blessed with a vast array of biodiversity, beauty and wonder with the four most renowned being Kanneliya Rainforest, Peak Wilderness, which is the largest and covers 250km², Knuckles which covers 175km² and Sinharaja which is still relatively large at 90km².
Rainforests in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Must Visit Rainforests
- Kanneliya Rainforest
- Peak Wilderness Rainforest
- Knuckles Mountain Range and Rainforest
- Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site
Kanneliya Rainforest – Biodiversity and Rare Birds
Southern Provinces, near Galle
Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya, or KDN for short, is situated 35km northwest of Galle in one of the most floristically rich areas in South Asia. The forest complex was designated as a biosphere reserve in 2004 and contains many endemic plant and animal species as well as being a major catchment area for two important rivers: Gin Ganga and Nilwala Ganga. This is also the place to spot some rare birds with 26 endemic varieties, twenty of which can only be found in the KDN forest complex. There’s also a grand total of over 220 known species of fauna including 86 species of mammals, 36 species of snakes, and several fish.
Must Do Recommendation: Plant trees and meet local farmers on our Rainforest & Tree Planting Holiday
Peak Wilderness Rainforest – Adams Peak
Central Highlands, Sri Lanka
Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, to give it its full name, is the tropical rainforest which surrounds the Sri Pada Mountain (Adam’s Peak) in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Back in the British colonial era parts of the area were cut down to make way for large tea plantations because of course there would be a huge demand for tea. These plantations are still in use today and can be found around Nuwara Eliya yet in the 1940’s the Peak Wilderness Area became protected as a wildlife sanctuary which is its status today as the area is widely considered to be a biodiversity hotspot.
Must Do Recommendation: Walk Through The Rainforest on your way to Adam’s Peak
Part of its value lies in its landscape, with an altitude varying from 1000 to 7360ft above sea level the geographical formations are wildly different to other native natural reserves which means lush greenery and a wider range of wildlife who call it their home. The natural reserve is now largely untouched and you can walk through it on your way to Adam’s Peak which makes Peak Wilderness Sanctuary an important eco-tourism venue in Sri Lanka. Adam’s Peak is known as an appreciated pilgrimage site for several religions including Hindus, Muslims and Christians as well as Buddhists who believe that the footprint found on the summit is that of Buddha.
Knuckles Mountain Range – Rainforests and Waterfalls
Central Sri Lanka, Matale and Kandy Districts
The name is obvious, isn’t it? Knuckles Mountain Range does bear an uncanny likeness to human knuckles. In total there are 34 mountains that range in height from 900 to 2,000m and due to the dense forest there are several awe-inspiring hiking trails. However, due to the vast area, demanding trails and the likely chances of getting lost it is mandatory to take a qualified guide to show you the waterfalls, tiny hidden villages and rice fields as well as to spot some of the more elusive animals that roam around.
Must Do Recommendation: Take a guided tour of the range and visit at least one of several waterfalls
Sinharaja National Park – A designated Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage site
South Sri Lanka, Sabaragamuwa and Southern Provinces
It should come as no surprise that all rainforests on the island have been declared protected areas with Sinharaja designated as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site. Over 60% of the trees are endemic to the region with many considered rare. That dense vegetation does limit the wildlife somewhat but you can still hope to find leopards, elephants and the purple-face langur with several other endemic insects, amphibians and birds.
Must Do Recommendation: Get to the park early to do some bird watching
Due to its varying altitude, rainfall and rich soil Sri Lanka contains a variety of forest ecosystems that are just waiting to be explored. Not just plain old forests but a mix of tropical, moist, dry and evergreens offering a wide range of flora and fauna. However, deforestation is claiming vast swathes of this valuable land so it should come as no surprise that all rainforests in Sri Lanka have been declared protected areas with efforts being taken to conserve these spots including replanting trees to replace those that have been lost.
Book A Rainforest & Tree Planting Holiday with Sea Heart House
Do your bit to save Sri Lanka’s Rainforests on our 10 night Sri Lanka Rainforest and Tree Planting Conservation Tour or by coming on one of our Tree Planting Day Trips.