When speaking about rain forests in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the first to be mentioned. But unknown to many there is another one in South of Sri Lanka, Kanneliya , the largest of the remaining rainforest complex known as KDN complex. The KDN complex stands for Kanneliya – Dediyagala- Nakiyadeniya. Kanneliya is one of the most biologically diverse forest in the world and identified as one of the floristically richest areas in South Asia. The rain forest is a major catchment area for two of the most important rivers in southern Sri Lanka, the Gin and Nilwala Rivers. There are two routes you can choose from Colombo to Kanneliya one is via Kalutara (Aprox:125km) and the other is via Galle(Aprox:135km).
Hiking in Kanneliya rain forest is not less adventurous than hiking in Sinharaja. The panoramic views of the mountains and the streams flowing through the forest making natural ponds and waterfalls with clean and cool water will make you forget about the rest of the world. In August to September and December to February there is less chance of rain which is ideal for hiking. But you could enjoy the full flow of the water falls , “Anagimale” and “Narangas falls” between May to July and October to November . If your desire is a bath in a natural water pond, then don’t hesitate to take a dip in the cool and crystal clear streams in the forest. There are two other popular natural pools at the front and the behind of the Kanneliya conservation centre.
The first hiking trail starts from Kanneliya conservation centre and leads to Kabbale Mountain peak. There you can have the breath taking panoramic view of the full KDN complex. Anagimale waterfalls also lie in this trail. This is the 53rd in highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and can be seen more lively in the months of May to July. The trail is enriched with the nature’s beautiful gifts of flowers and fauna. Kanneliya forest provides a habitat for 59 species of birds, 32 species of butterflies and 14 species of reptiles. In addition there are 7 species of snails which are not much considered by anyone.
The second hiking trail also begins from the conservation centre and heads to Narangas Ella.Hidden deep in the Kanneliya rain forest, Narangas Ella is a small but an attractive waterfall. The trail covers three other of Kanneliya which are the cave, the Giant Navada tree and the giant creeper. Yodha Pus Wela or the Giant Creeper, a woody entanglement found just off the trail, its weighty thickness unwinding across the vast acres of the forest, not knowing where it ends. Towards the end of the trail was the Giant Navada Tree that rose above the forest canopy. Small reptiles, amphibians and birds are in abundance here and high among the distant trees, you could hear the echoes of chirping conversations of those creatures.
For the accommodation the best option would be the Forest Department dormitory which situated right at the entrance to the forest. Accommodation is available for about 50 and there is a cook who can take care of your meals. Facilities available there is average and you have the option of stay in Galle and travel to Kanneliya because it is in close proximity.
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