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This Is the Best Safari Destination Outside of Africa - Forbes (2019)

Nature walk in Kanneliya Rain Forest

AVAILABILITY: Throughout the year

TOUR OPTIONS: Morning & Evening

Kanneliya is a forest reserve in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It is identified as one of the most floristically rich areas in South Asia and, apart from Sinharaja Rainforest, is the last remaining large rainforest in Sri Lanka. The forest is situated 35 km northwest of the city of Galle and is a major catchment area for two of the most important rivers in southern Sri Lanka, Gin Ganga and Nilwala Ganga. Designated as a biosphere reserve in 2004 by UNESCO, the Kanneliya forest reserve is home to many endemic plant and animal species.

Kanneliya also has a total of over 220 known species of fauna; including 86 species of mammals, 36 species of snakes, and several species of avian life and fish. Amongst the bird species here; 26 birds are endemic with 20 of them only seen within the Kanneliya Rain Forest. Some of these are the Sri Lankan Spurfowl, Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl, Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill, Red-Faced Malkoha, Orange-Billed Babbler and the Sri Lankan Blue Magpie.

Twenty percent of Sri Lanka’s endemic freshwater fishes can be found in Kanneliya, in the waters of Gin River and Nilwala River. The park is also home to  17 endemic snakes and 23 species of lizards.

The Kanneliya Forest reserve has large number of endemic flora and fauna; with 17 percent of lowland endemic floral species confined to this forest area, and 41 species of endemic fauna living there. Of the 319 woody plants recorded in the forest reserve, about 52 per cent are endemic. The forest also harbours numerous medicinal plants and rare plants, including  Yellow Vine (Coscinium fenestratum), Salacia Reticulata, Heart-Leaved Moonseed (Tinospora cordifolia), Coarse Tassel Fern (Lycopodium Squarrosum), and Coarse Tassel Fern (Lycopodium phlegmaria). 27 percent of the floral species within the forest are listed as vulnerable, and 45 percent are in the rare plants category.


  • Earthy Coloured Clothings
  • Sunglasses & a hat to protect against the sun
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun protection lotions & Lip balm
  • Good camera, spare batteries, extra memory cards, cables and chargers