Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. You know when it’s been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO it has to be something special……………….and it is!
Use your miles for a Central Asia award ticket to Colombo. From there, you can get a taxi to your accommodation near Kudawa or take a bus to Matugama, then change to a Kalawana bus and get a taxi/rickshaw from there to your accommodation. Obviously there is a trade-off between comfort & convenience and cost.
WHERE TO STAY
Forget about points and try to get into the closest eco-lodge to the park you can get, it will save you the trouble of hiring rickshaws every time you want to go into the park. Don’t expect the Marriott, these are simple lodges that cater to birders and serve their purpose well.
Martin’s Lodge – Yes it really is simple but Martin, the owner is a lovely guy and teh views are amazing! They don’t have a website but more information is here and Trip Advisor reviews here. Do not trust local travel agents who tell you it is full and try to steer you to someplace more expensive. You need to call Martin to get an accurate answer if he can book you in or not. 045 568 1864 He doesn’t have email.
Blue Magpie Lodge – The second closest lodge to the park. I didn’t get a look at it but I met a lady who was staying there and she said it was great! Trip Advisor reviews.
Rock View Motel – About 20 minutes away by auto-rickshaw but add a whole different habitat to your birding with the amazing views over the valley! Trip Advisor reviews
Rainforest Edge – Looks stunning but was way out of our budget. This is the poshest lodge in the area. Trip Advisor reviews.
HOW TO VISIT THE RESERVE
You can walk from Martin’s or Blue Magpie, otherwise you will need an auto rickshaw to drop you and arrange to pick you up. Once you arrive, you need to buy your ticket and pay for a mandatory guide. The guides are very good and know the local birds and animals well. You can’t request a guide, they are assigned by rota. If you don’t have leech socks, you can buy some here, they also sell snacks, cold drinks, postcards & books. This is our guide, his name is Raushan (probably spelled it wrong) and he was very good with bird identification.
Once you have your ticket, your guide will walk with you up the hill pointing out whatever birds and animals he sees along the way. When you reach the top, another official will check your ticket and you can enter the main trail of the reserve.
Sinharaja boasts an amazing bird list including many endemics. We saw quite a few in our one day visit: Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Layard’s Parakeet, Red-faced Malkoha, Malabar Trogon, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Lesser Yellownape, Orange Minivet, Sri Lanka Drongo, White-bellied Drongo, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Black-capped Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Orange-billed Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Oriental White-eye, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Lesser Hill Myna, Spot-winged Thrush, Legge’s Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird
I couldn’t get a good shot of the Blue Magpie as he stayed well within the dense foliage and the Layard’s Parakeet was just a fleeting glimpse of one darting overhead. Here’s a few of my better shots (LOL).
Malabar Trogon was the best bird I got a photo of.
We did our best to lure the Blue Magpie out but he just wasn’t having it!
I forget what lizards these are.