The essence of Kanneliya Rainforest Reserve
A short drive from Galle, is one of Sri Lanka’s best-kept secrets, the Hiyare Rainforest Reserve. This flourishing, 240 hectare (600 acres) rainforest, located only 17 km (10.5 miles) from the city, is a veritable paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, with a wealth of flora and fauna, and an immense beauty. Amid this patch of forest, The Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle runs its Animal Rescue Programme and a Biodiversity Breeding Centre. The centre is responsible for increasing populations of endemic freshwater fish and amphibians, which will be released back into their natural habitat. &Beyond works with the society by organising guided treks into the rainforest. The forest itself is home to over 120 bird species (including 13 endemics) and an amazing diversity of butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles. The Hiyare Rainforest also shelters a reservoir built in 1911 that supplies Galle with water. Nearby, the Kottawa Arboretum, which is part of a larger 1 800 hectare (7 mi²) Kottawa Kombala Conservation Forest, sits adjacent to Hiyare and is equally rich in fauna and flora. While Hiyare is a birdwatchers paradise, walking through the understorey of the Kottawa rainforest is also a must. An hour further north is the Kanneliya Rainforest, the country’s largest surviving patch of lowland rainforest. Together these patches of rainforest create an
important cluster of biological treasure. This region has been identified as floristically one of the richest areas in South Asia and all within a short drive from Galle.