The Sinharaja Rainforest covers 7,648ha and is a biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage Site, a national park surrounded by rivers. While the altitude ranges between 300m to 1,000m, the Reserve houses more than 50% of endemic species including mammals, butterflies, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians living in temperatures of 19 – 34 degrees Celsius. Sinharaja is home to twelve endemic mammals including the frequently seen giant squirrel, dusky-stripped jungle squirrel, badger mongoose and endemic purple-faced leaf monkey and torque macaque.
The birds include more than half of the endemic species including endangered ones while the Green Pit Viper and the Hump-nosed Viper are common reptiles. The Torrent toad, common house toad and the Wrinkled Frog and Sri Lankan Reed Frogs are also found in Sinharaja. The Reserve can be reached from hotels on the west coast.
The rainforest survived the worst of commercial logging due to its inaccessibility before it was deemed to be a World Biosphere Reserve in the year 1978 and subsequently a World Heritage Site in the year 1988. Sinharaja has three access ways for visitors, Kudawa for those arriving from Colombo via Kawlana, Pitadeniya for guests arriving from Deniya via Galle or Matara and Morning Side Estate for those arriving from Deniya via Galle or Matara.
The dense vegetation makes the spotting of animals difficult but serves as a real treat to wildlife enthusiasts who want to travel deep into the forest in search of the rare wildlife present here. The real highlight of Sinharaja is however its amazing life of flora and fauna. The average height of the trees vary between 35m to 45m and shows and endemism of more than 90%. Endemism among butterflies, amphibians, birds, reptiles, fish and mammals are also greater than 50%.