Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka

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Things to do

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January, 2022

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We stayed at The Rainforest Eco Lodge in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka for two nights where a range of guided walks were on offer, with helpful boards in the lobby explaining the distance, duration and time of each walk and some key facts.

Whilst groups can have around 10 guests, we were the only English-speakers and had a guide, Gayathri, to ourselves, as well as our tour guide, Ahmed. All walks began at the interpretation centre where we donned leech socks provided by the lodge. These were worn inside our shoes and tied at the knees and having already found leeches in our clothing, we were more than happy to wear them.

Our morning Bird Watching Walk, 4km/2 hours, began at 6am waiting at the lodge entrance for the blue magpies which flew over each morning to peck the spiders in the webs whilst it was still quiet. We then took the path we’d arrived on, past the security guard and along a well-marked path. Gayathri and Ahmed tried in vain to get us to see with our binoculars tiny birds which they could not only see with their naked eye, but identify. However, we did spot an endemic and endangered, purple-faced leaf monkey high in the trees above us. The pace was slow, and we both realised why we could never be serious bird watchers as we lack the patience and eyesight. After 3 hours, we returned to the lodge for a well-earned breakfast.

For our afternoon walk we chose the Nature Main Trail (3km/3 hours) which was said to lead us through the ecosystem change from tea estate, forest canopy to the disturbed forest. We set off down a slope through tea plantations established in 1957: the land for the Rainforest Ecolodge is leased from Maturata tea estate. We then entered the forest, both primary and secondary, with dense trees. The path was narrow, muddy in places and we constantly had to look down to avoid tripping over tree roots. We crossed two streams, using a rickety bridge and stepping stones, and at a slightly more difficult section, had to scramble over large rocks. Fortunately the few up and down stretches were short and manageable.

However, Gayathri took it slowly and we stopped regularly both to divest our legs of leeches and examine various flowers and plants including a wild orchid and an endemic plant, nepenthes distillatoria, with its pitcher like traps which catch insects. Eventually after an hour we spotted daylight in the distance and came out at what Gayathri described as grassland but was really a large expanse of bushes, with a large rocky outcrop. We were invited to sit and take in the views, however we decided to stand on the basis we might get down but not back up. This was one of the easier walks but was nevertheless interesting.

Helen Jackson

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