Sinharaja Home stays
As Sri Lanka's only natural UNESCO world heritage site, Sinharaja Rainforest provides travelers with a unique opportunity to see a vast range of endemic species in the country's last surviving stretch of virgin rainforest.
A small number of families in Deniyaya at Kiriwaldolla have opened their homes to guests wishing to explore the rainforest and surrounding area. The homestays are all located within easy reach of the rainforest entrance and are themselves surrounded by the birdlife and fauna of this fascinating region.Guest locally and internationally are welcomed as part of the family and encouraged to discover the richness of local village life.
Each of the homestay provides simple yet comfortable accommodation, with a private bedroom and a shared Western-style bathroom. Mosquito nets are available on request.
Food and Drinking Water
Healthy, traditional Sri Lankan food is available for all meals and is included in your full board room rate. If you would like to request alternatives to rice and curry (e.g. noodles, roti, string hoppers), then please ask your homestay owner. Meat and fish can be arranged for an additional charge.Drinking water at the homestays is sourced from a natural spring. Filtered water is also available for guests.
Getting around and onward travel
All of the homestays are situated in Kiriwaldolla village, on the South-west route into the world heritage site. If you’d like to get out and about, your homestay owner will be able to arrange a three-wheeler for you. Alternatively, there are regular buses between Deniyaya and Kiriwaldolla. Kiriwaldolla village is approximately a 1/2 hour drive from Deniyaya. From Deniyaya there are direct buses to Colombo (230km and a 5 hour drive), from Galle (70km and a 2½ hour drive) or Matara (50km and a 1½ hour drive).
Activities and things to do
In addition to exploring the rainforest itself, there are a variety of other activities that guests can enjoy. All of the homestay owners are experienced guides from the Sinharaja Reserve, and are able to identify and explain some of the local flora and fauna that you’ll see during your stay. Please make use of their expertise and experience.
Your homestay host can give you a tour around the village and give you an introduction to the local community and families that live in the area. On your tour you can visit the local temple and could witness local ceremonies that might be taking place. The village is full of interesting wildlife, and many rare and endemic birds can be seen in the area. Your guide will provide an overview of the local topography and crops, and can show you good bathing spots.
There are two local waterfalls – Duviliella and Katukithula - that are ideal spots for walking and bathing. Visitors can also visit the micro hydro plant, which provides a sustainable energy source for the local community.
All of the homestay owners are also engaged in traditional livelihood projects such as tea picking, rubber production and kitul tapping. Your homestay host will be able to show you the methods involved in these traditional practices and you are welcome to get involved!
In Deniyaya, I had an incredible experience staying in the house of a Sri Lankan tea-planter’s family. The father is the Ayurvedic doctor of the village, the mother takes care of the house, and they have two daughters, an 18 year-old daughter finishing her studies, and a 22 year-old daughter teaching music at a primary school. When I got back from work, the girls were very excited to see me and asked a whole lot of questions about where I had been in the past, as well as what I was doing in my life. The language barrier was a little bit of an issue, but the girls could speak some English and I topped it off with some hand gestures. After getting to know each other, they offered me to head to the temple. I jumped on the occasion as I had never gone and participated to Buddhist prayers. The whole process was very humbling, even though I was not sure what to do and I could not understand the words of the monk. I followed the gestures everybody else made, as not to stand out too much. I was already the only girl not wearing white and wearing pants.
After the temple, the girls decided to put a saree on me, first in the Kandyan style and second, in the traditional style. I had never worn a saree before, but had seen many over the years, and I always wanted to try one on. Later on, the whole family cooked friend rice with fresh vegetables and curry, and we had dinner all together. As I had a little bit of a cold, the father gave me tea with different herbs which would help my cold. He also put an ointment he had made himself, on my forehead to help my sinus. The next morning, they prepared hoppers for breakfast, and I headed to work later-on. Goodbyes were difficult as the girls and I had grown fond of one another. Even though this was a short stay, I very much enjoyed living with a Sri Lankan family.
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