For the perfect trip that takes to amidst nature, lush greens and trickling streams, the Paniyawala Rain Forest is an apt choice.
This rainforest is about an hour or more away from Kalutara, and if you scour through any local blogs like us, you’d see that this is one of the top listed places to visit in Kalutara district. This tranquil reserve is also called Yagirala Rainforest Reserve. The reserve spans over 2,360 hectares. The reserve boasts 36 species of mammals with 4 endemic species and 62 flora families.
This wet evergreen rainforest had been declared a forest reserve in 1926 and the forest had spread over 5,908 hectares at that time. However, the area has reduced to due to human activities. It is located above 10 – 260m above sea level and Katukithulana and Pamaragala considered the highest points.
The reserve is located 47.4 km from Kalutara. Follow the shortest route as depicted below.
Kalutara ➡ Aluthgama ➡ (Matugama Road) ➡ Dharga Town ➡ (Meegama Thotupola – Abmagahahandiya Road) ➡ Meegama ➡ Ittapane ➡ Avittawa ➡(Avittawa – Wallavita Road) ➡ Yagirala ➡ (Weligalpoththa Road) ➡Weligalpoththa Arannaya ➡ Paniyawala Rainforest
( Route Map via Google Maps)
If you are planning on spending a day in the Paniyawala Rain Forest, it’s best to stay at a hotel or lodge in Yagirala. From beach villas to budget hotels, this place has it all. To save money, get yourself a package at a hotel that includes the excursion to the forest.
From Yagirala, the forest in less than 30 minutes away if you travel by bus or car and go down the Avittava – Elpitiya Road. Pack the essentials needed for a day spent in a forest, namely, sunscreen, insect repellents, water, and snacks to keep you energized and so on.
Also, carry a plastic bag to throw in all your wrappers and bottles to take back out with you as littering the forest is a huge No No. There’s monastery which you’ll come across when you enter the forest hence keep the noises to the minimum not to disturb the monks who meditate there.
What to expect
Being a world heritage virgin rainforest, the Paniyawala forest is locally known as the Sinharaja Forest. Home to many endemic animals and birds, this is a must visit if you love nature and all it has to offer.
There is a water stream that stems from highlands of the forest and you can have a refreshing dip there. This water stream eventually reaches the Bentota River which meanders by the edge of the reserve.
Please be a responsible traveler and do not leave any waste in the forest (non-biodegradable or biodegradable). Do not damage or try to take away what belongs to the forest.
- Yagirala Field Visit | Butterfly Conservation Society Sri Lanka
- The potential for developing eco-tourism in the Yagirala Forest Reserve to maintain its sustainability | Fareena Rusaik
- Conservation Projects and Workshops | University of Sri Jayawardenapura
Photos used herein belong to Mr. Chamil Sarajith and used with permission. Un-authorized use is prohibited.