Morningside of Sinharaja Rainforest. Suriyakanda Sri Lanka
Having visited the majestic Sinharaja Rainforest from the Pitadeniya entrance just last week, this weekend we are on our way to Morningside. I’ve heard too much about this side to miss this opportunity.
Morningside is in the eastern side of the Sinharaja, hence named by colonial tea planters of the Lankaberiya Estate. It is located off Suriyakanda between Rakwana and Deniyaya and you guessed right…the road leading up to the bungalow is terrible! The Sinhala translation is “himidiri pedesa”.
But once there, the views are somewhat breathtaking.
Especially the morning views, as the sun gently rolls over the tree canopy, brushing aside the misted cobwebs from the lashing, thunderous rains of the night before.
Whilst there are still plenty of tea fields surrounding the bungalow, the forest remains untouched and mystifying and a walk into the forest is quite an adventure.
I have to put aside any fears of the unavoidable leeches, possible reptiles, and missteps, and geared up for the walk.
Throughout our four-hour trek, we cross streams, hike up and down steep hillocks, scramble over rocks and logs, trip over loose stones, slip on slimy edges, conquer waterfalls, kill leeches (with Dettol solvent) or flick them away when possible, push aside thorny shrubs and spiky branches, spot birds, butterflies, insects and other wonderful wild creatures and learn so much.
Whilst a majority of the Sinharaja land area lies in the lowlands, the eastern side of it consists of montane and sub-montane forests and spreads across higher altitudes.
Yet, despite the exceedingly small land area, the Morningside of the Sinharaja is extremely rich in biodiversity and endemism and the climate is generally wetter with the secondary forest mist heavily laden throughout the day.
I found an interesting excerpt taken from “Diversity of Reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja Rain Forest” about Morningside.
Many scholars have already researched on reptiles in the lowland rain forests of Sri Lanka including Sinharaja, however, they have not significantly attended to the diversity of reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja forest. Considering this gap, the research focuses on studying diversity of reptiles in diverse lowland rain forests, montane and sub-montane forests in the Southern and Eastern parts of Sinharaja. Giguruwa-Kosmulla and Pitadeniya sites in the Southern part, and Hadpanella and Morningside in the Eastern part are selected as study areas of the research. 16 line transects (as four from each site) and quadrate 16 samples (as four from each site) are used for primary data collecting. Lowland rain forests, montane and sub-montane forests are identified as biologically sensitive habitats of reptiles. High number of native reptile species are recorded in lowland rain forests than in montane and sub-montane forests. 36 reptile species are identified in Southern and Eastern parts of the Sinharaja forest and 19 species of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. Among them, 05 vulnerable species, 04 endangered species, 05 critically endangered species are recorded. Many threats have been found, however, among them issues of bio piracy loss of forest genetic resources and wildlife smuggling, illegal forest utilisation practices, gem mining, illegal forest encroachments and unethical tourism practices are major issues. Thus, state forest department and other responsible authorities must attend to minimize the effects of these negative human impact on these vulnerable areas to protect sensitive reptile species in their habitats in order to conserve their diversity.
For those of you who love trekking, and are brave enough to face off leeches, take a walk through this rainforest. You will never regret it.
We had a great time!
Good to know:
Take leech socks and a good pair of hiking shoes.
Take Dettol solvent.
Do NOT trek alone. It is very easy to get lost in here.
Be prepared to get caught in the rain.
Some photos are courtesy of Buddhil de Silva.