Runakanda is an idyllic, mountainous forest that has managed to maintain its pristine beauty and allure, largely escaping the attention of the general public. This captivating forest was once seamlessly connected to the renowned Sinharaja Forest Reserve until the 1970s. However, over time, extensive deforestation for agricultural pursuits and human settlements led to its isolation from its once harmonious ecosystem.
Runakanda is renowned as one of the largest rainforests in Sri Lanka, second only to the prestigious Sinharaja. Adorned with magnificent biodiversity, comparable to that of its counterpart, Sinharaja, Runakanda stands proudly as a testament to the natures gift on the island.
Biodiversity Runakanda Forest Reserve
Runakanda Forest boasts an impressive array of flora and fauna. Approximately 70% of the plant species found within this forest are endemic to Sri Lanka. In addition, the reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including 24 species of mammals, 29 species of birds, 26 species of snakes, 6 species of lizards, 33 species of fish, and 50 species of butterflies.
Runakanda Wilderness showcases a collection of mesmerizing waterfalls, gracefully formed by cascading streams. Among them are notable brooks like Na Kanda Ela, Puak Watiya Ela, and Ketalapath Ela. Additionally, the area boasts several enchanting small waterfalls, including Mannawatta Ella Falls, Mohini Ella Falls, and Pahanthuda Ella Falls. The crystal-clear waters from these streams converge with Maguru Oya, a tributary of the Kalu Ganga River, enhancing the natural allure of the surroundings.
Mannawatta Falls, situated in the Denihena Mannawatta area, is considered as the most exquisite waterfall within the forest. Formed by the Maguru Oya cascading over a rock plateau, this natural wonder unveils its breathtaking beauty as it gracefully plummets approximately eight meters from a small cliff. Another captivating cascade to behold is Pahantudawa Falls, located in close proximity to Dikhena village. It gracefully descends in a dual-tiered spectacle, enchanting all who venture near
Recently, this mountain range was declared as part of the bigger Sinharaja Rainforest providing much needed protection.
Runakanda Prehistoric Caves
During a survey by the Archaeological Department in 2017, the team discovered 37 caves with prehistoric evidence within the Runakanda Forest Reserve.
Travelling to Runakanda Forest Reserve
Located at the edge of the Western, Sabaragamuwa, and Southern provinces, under the Palindanuwara Divisional Secretariat Division of the Kalutara District, lies the picturesque village of Mannawatta. Nestled amidst the scenic beauty, Mannawatta serves as a gateway to the Runakanda forest. Traveling a distance of 16 kilometers on the narrow road that heads south from Athwelthota Junction will lead you to this charming village.
To access Runakanda, one can embark on the route through Mannawatta or opt for the Baduraliya, Hadigalla, Dikhena road, crossing the Maguru River and traversing the forest for approximately eight kilometers. Within the periphery of this forest, one can discover quaint hamlets like Denihena, Kalukandawa, Higuruvelketiya, and Mannawatta, with Athwelthota serving as the closest market town.
Map of Runakanda Forest Reserve
The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
Travel Directions to Runakanda Forest Reserve
|Route from Colombo to Runakanda Forest Reserve|
|Though : Kadawatha – Nittambuwa|
distance from colombo : 115 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Time to Spend : 1/2 day to 1 day
Driving directions : see on google map