From the beaches to the rainforest

Sinharaja Forest Reserve, 7-8 August

The bus from Galle takes us to the tiny town of Deniyaya in roughly 4 hours. The roads seem to consist of only hairpin bends with mostly blind corners (with the occasional stray dog casually napping in the middle of the road) and takes us higher and higher into rapidly changing scenery to the rain forests eco region of Sinharaja AKA Lion’s Kingdom (no lions here though sadly).

Once off the bus I make the decision to walk to the Rainforest Lodge with gear strapped to our backs and fronts, since the air here is a bit cooler, but soon grow to regret it. The sign may say we’re only 1km away but we’re walking for what feels like an eternity. Soon the sounds of local kids greeting us fade away to be replaced by just birds chirping and Lauren cursing me under her breath. But it’s all worth it when we finally get there!

We are the only guests here and in fact appear to be the only travellers in this part of the country. The owner gives us directions to a nearby Buddhist jungle temple built inside a rock, and so we’re off exploring again, minus 25 kilos of luggage though.

Next morning we wake up early and excited for a day of trekking through the reserve. We meet up with our guide Suminda at the gates, are also joined by a local dog which we name Scout and who decides to tag along, and together our merry band sets off into the wild.

Sinharaja is Sri Lanka’s last area of tropical rainforest. It’s home to a treasure trove of endemic species of trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. And did I mention it also has a shit ton of leeches, which, unlike the mosquitos which bite only Lauren, are attracted only to me.

On our trek we spot amongst others Sri Lanka’s national animal the giant squirrell (bigger than a house cat, though tiny looking next to the giant leaves), the country’s most dangerous snake the pit viper, an endangered purple-faced leaf monkey and a gray langur, besides a whole lot of waterfalls.