About 3 and a half hours inland from Colombo lies the little town of Kitulgala that has quickly caught on to become the premier destination for the adventure junkie. Boasting of some grand rapids that run along the Kelani River proves to be perfect for some serious white water rafting, along with some surreal rain forest trails that teem with endemic wildlife. The little mountain town certainly draws many an adventure junkie and nature lover to revel in the very essence of Sri Lanka’s natural splendour.

Top Reason to Visit

There are many reasons to visit Kitulgala, as it boasts of the Kelani River flowing in full force almost all throughout the year that proves perfect for white water rafting, surrounded by lush green mountainous rain forests containing endemic wildlife and many plantations of agriculture, such as banana trees and fishtail palm trees. However, the top reason to visit the little town of Kitulgala is for the adventure sports that take place on the Kelani River’s rapids.

While You’re There

Brave the rapids and take a leap of faith:

Of course one of the highlights for many travellers that travel across the Paradise Island is the adventure that one can experience, and Kitulgala is a haven for that adventure soul. Boasting of an array of activities, including white water rafting, flat water rafting and river expeditions on the ferocious Kelani River, it really takes quite the courage to brave such ferocity. Moreover, the presence of great waterfalls and streams nearby, allow you to partake in waterfall abseiling and waterfall trekking. If you are willing to take it to the next level, then try your hand at some stream slides and confidence jumps off some daring waterfall drops.

Nature trails for the nature lover:

According to the Wildlife Department, 23 of the 27 species of endemic bird species dwell in the forests that surround the mountain town; it is perfect for some serious bird watching. Partaking in a nature walk along the nature trails or cycling through the pathways along the banana trees, palm trees (used for manufacturing kitul syrup, which is reminiscent of maple syrup) and tea plantations are a treat to anyone, as it showcases the simple lives the village people lead, away from all the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. Camping too is another enticing activity that has caught on as a mainstay for anyone willing to witness the natural beauty of the area in all its glory.

A picture for the ages:

Another defining feature of Kitulgala is that it served to be a major location for filming the 1957 David Lean epic ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’. The movie depicts the building of the Burma Railway using POWs (Prisoners of War) by the Japanese as free labour during the Second World War. It is still possible to see remnants of the movie set along the banks of the Kelani River, if you are willing to walk along the uneven pathway. The most prominent remnants in the form of the railway carriages used in the explosive conclusion still lie in the bottom of the river and can be explored by going underwater, however, you do need to bring your own scuba gear for that.

The beginnings of man:

Kitulgala is also home to some of the more important archaeological sites in the country in the form of the Beli Lena Cave that is home to an intricate cave system where fossils and remains of the pre historic Balangoda man have been found. A trip to these caves can be easily arranged through your accommodation provider.

Insider Advice

Travel: Travelling about the area is relatively easy, since most of the places of interest are close to each other, thus walking is the best way to move about. Should you opt for a vehicle, then it is advisable that you organise one through your accommodation provider.

Weather: Since it is located in the wet zone rainforest area of the country, the town experiences two monsoons a year, thus making it one of the wettest places in the country. The first three months are considered to be relatively dry months that prove to be perfect for adventure sports.

Money: It is mandatory that you carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s and 100s, since credit and debit cards are worthless in this rural town.

Clothing: When travelling about the town area, do wear comfortable, light clothing. However, it is mandatory to be clad accordingly, when partaking in adventure sports.

Safety: Kitulgala is a very safe place and is quite an accommodating place to foreigners, however, do be mindful of your personal belongings.

Meals and refreshments: Due to the remoteness and small size of the town, there are a few eateries here. The best bet is hotel restaurants.

Adventure sports: There are many adventure sports companies in the area and due to this reason there are many options at varying costs. Just ask your accommodation provider or ask a breakdown of the costs directly so you know exactly what you are getting.

In conclusion, Kitulgala proves to be an epicenter for adventure in Sri Lanka, along with being a destination where one could be in peace with the country’s natural surroundings.

Title image by: KNOWSL
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