This 8,800-hectare reserve, near the gem-mining town of Ratnapura, in the far south of Sri Lanka, is vitally important as one of the last remaining areas of virgin rainforest - plus introduced species such as teak and mahogany - left on the island. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and designated Biosphere, and logging was finally halted in 1977. Sinharaja's uplands landscape, with rolling ridges and valleys of dense forest, threaded with streams, pools and rivers, is a perfect refuge for birds. The climate is hot and wet, ideal for leeches and exotic tropical birds, including 18 of Sri Lanka's 20 endemic rainforest species, such as the Dusky Blue Flycatcher, the Yellow-eared Bulbul and the Blue Magpie. Sinharaja is also famous for its unusual mixed feeding flocks, usually dominated by Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the Orange-billed Babbler. Wildlife also includes Purple-faced Langurs, Toque Monkeys, wild pigs, Mouse and Barking Deer, and very rare sightings of leopards and Fishing Cats.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.