4WD / Motorbike
MORNINGSID is situated off ‘Suriyakanda’ (between Rakwana and Deniyaya) in the Eastern part of the famous Sinharaja Rainforest. Since access to this area is quite rugged, a 4WD Jeep is a must and the only place to stay is a Forest Department bungalow. ‘Morningside Estate’ was originally named by the colonial planters who came to grow Tea there. Most of the tea plantation has now been replaced by cardamom (one of the most expensive spices in the world) and it is an interesting option for visitors to observe the entire process of cardamom production. The inhabitants of the area say they named this as ‘Morningside’ as it feels like it is morning all day long with the mist rolling across the hills endlessly…
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The majority of its land area is lowlands. However, a small but a significant proportion spreads across higher altitudes. To be more precise, the eastern part of the Sinharaja MAB reserve falls within the sub-mountain region of Sri Lanka. Despite the exceedingly small land coverage, the Eastern Sinharaja is extremely rich in biodiversity and endemism.
Travelling by road on the A4 road passing Rathnapura and get on the A18 and turn off from Madampe junction on B17 road to Deniyaya. Travelling about 35km on this winding road you get the turn off to Morningside which is a 7 Km drive on the worst road in the country without a doubt! The most wonderful views of virgin rain-forests across the hills and valleys compensates for the jolting ride to the bungalow. The bungalow has only solar power, so electricity is limited to a few lights in the night. There are no Telephones and only one mobile service signal works here and that too only if you’re lucky! It is therefore the perfect place to get away from it all !
The path to the bungalow is full of the most rare and wonderful fauna and flora. I was thrilled to see many species of butterflies along the way and was able to photograph some of these jewels of the forest.
‘Morningside‘ is home to most of the lowland endemic birds of Sri Lanka as well as the highland endemics which you would normally not get to see on the southern parts of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Since the forest cover is very thick here birds are mostly heard rather than seen. This is a very good place to see many endemic birds some of the highlights as follows,
The forest is also home to the Leopard, Sambar, Mouse Deer,River Otter, and even a few remaining elephants. Many species of amphibians are also found in this forest with many more new species still to be discovered.
‘Morningside’ Sinharaja is a rare jewel that Sri Lanka still possesses. The constant pressure on it by the surrounding tea plantations are telling on it. The forest cover is a fraction of what it was many years back and we do hope it will survive for the next generations to enjoy this most wonderful treasure.
You can reserve the circuit bungalow from forest department head office or Online reservation.Only 4WD vehicles can go on this circuit. If you are going by a normal car or a van you will have to park it at Iththakanda village. 4WD safari vehicles are available at Iththakanda.
We can see two rare elephants from the Sinharaja Forest Reserve resemble an elephant measuring about 5 feet in height and resemble a dwarf elephant seen in the dry zone.The elephant’s small stature was due to disproportionately short legs. Elephant Specialist was observed that this elephant was seen in an aggressive encounter with another male of average size. The dwarf was by far the main aggressor in an altercation and appeared to be older than the other a young adult
Once you taste this wonderful nature’s beauty you will fall in love with her as many have done & keep repeating visits to ‘Morningside’!
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