Back to Nature. Sinharaja Rainforest Deniyaya Sri Lanka
So it’s back to the Rainforest Eco Lodge for a birthday celebration. This time, the Southern Expressway cuts down my travel time considerably although the last hour of the road condition leading up to the Lodge is pretty messed up.
Once I pass the Park Office gates and enter the protected forest area, the scenery changes dramatically. Driving through the forest is like entering a layered crayon box of green colors. From the differing shades of colors of the foliage, to the serenity, the fresh air, the sounds of birds, crickets and other small insects adds another dimension to this forest.
As the Rainforest Eco Lodge is full, we check into Grassmere Bungalow, a private three-bedroomed bungalow about a kilometer from the Lodge. Not in the best of conditions, but it will suffice for the weekend.
Naturally, there has to be lots of trekking and off we go with Nimesh, the naturalist. We enter the Sinharaja Forest through the Pitadeniya entrance, which is one of five entrances.
The ‘waterfall trail’ takes us through a narrow jungle path. Sometimes the path is craggy, wet, leafy, steep and slippery. But along the way, we see and learn about the intricate lichen, endemic plants and trees, spot the shy purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus) also known as the purple-faced leaf monkey, catch glimpses of birds, lizards, and other insects, including the slimy leech, that somehow manages to get a grip on my leech repellent socks only to be quickly annihilated by some Dettol spray. Yes, at times like this I do feel as though I am on a kill-on-sight mission.
At the first waterfall, the Kollawa Dola Ella, the stone suckers are hungry to get at my feet. This spot is serene and it is just us and the sound of running water, the chirping of birds and the occasional crash of monkeys skimming across the tops of the trees.
Further down the trail, I come to the bottom of the falls where the force is stronger and wider, although the water remains chilly and fresh!
The night trail is also a lot of fun. Clad in leech socks, a head torch and lots of anticipation of seeing the Loris, we set off after dinner with the naturalist. She cautions us that a leopard has been spotted in the area, so to stay together. Too late now… we stick close and carry onwards.
This 2.1 kilometer, two-hour night trail is exciting, and a must-do for anyone visiting this place. The night sounds are very different to what we hear during the daytime. The croaking of frogs, the screech of the cicadas, the rustling of trees, the grunt of wild boar keeps us awake!
There is a moment when are excitement is piqued as we peer into the dark in hopes of seeing the Loris. But the big bright and curious eyes are of a baby Indian Palm Civet, who is as piqued as we are!
I consider myself lucky at having spotted the beautiful Blue Magpie.
The mighty Sinharaja is located in south-west Sri Lanka and is our last primary tropical rainforest. Its magnificence is because more the 60% of its endemic trees, some of which are considered to be very rare, the endemic wildlife, it is home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as so many insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.
Despite the leeches, this is a very enjoyable trek and a chance to see some plants and creatures that are not to be found anywhere else in the world. So arm yourself with some insect repellent, lots of bravado and do it!
Good to Know
The Rainforest Eco Lodge provides leech socks and head torches.
Wear a good pair of hiking shoes.
Do not litter.
It is illegal to remove plants and insects from the protected areas.
Do not feed the monkeys and other wild animals.