In complete contrast to the more arid country to its east, the 34-sq-mile (88-sq-km) Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. The hilly area has long featured in local legends and lore. Its name (literally ‘lion king’) is believed to be a reference to its former fame as the last redoubt of the now extinct Asiatic lion.
Damp, dense and extraordinarily fecund, it is best visited in the relatively dry months of August and September, and January to April. Birders should note the striking phenomenon of mixed species of foraging bird flocks, with up to an astonishing 48 species noted on occasions. Several nature trails, ranging from gentle walks to strenuous full-day hikes, offer a wonderfully intimate, if not soggy, experience of this special forest.