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Kithulgula Forest Reserve

Kitulgala Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka’s adventure hub among lowland tropical rainforest, waterfalls, rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, along grand raging rapids of the Kelani River – the place for thrilling white water rafting, drawing many adventure and nature lovers geared for that adrenaline rush.


  • Tackle white water rafting along different grade rapids categorised for advanced and beginner rafters
  • Enjoy other activities such as water abseiling, rock sliding, mountain biking and more
  • Visit the Belilena Cave which was home to a prehistoric human with his skeletal remains that are 12,000 years old
  • Kitulgala was where the famous movie ‘The Bridge on River Kwai’ was filmed; you can see its location


A small town that’s located in the western part of the country, it is identified as a reputed water-sports adventure center positioned amongst a thick forest. White water rafting is one of the many activities.

The town of Kitulgala is conveniently placed in between Colombo, Kandy and the tea country located approximately 2 hours, 56 minutes away from Colombo. The name Kitulgala translates to the Kitul Palm tree that is found in the village of Kitulgala. The village is blessed with luscious vegetation that is very helpful for the local people living there.

The town is packed with adventurous and thrilling simultaneously, and is the best place to go because of the range of activities that are featured mainly the white water rafting, and canoeing as well. The other activities include outdoor camping, mountain biking and jungle trekking.

It is a splendid landscape especially with the mountains surrounding it in the distance, the rolling hills, flowing rivers – and the Sinharaja forest is just within reachable distance which is very convenient and the saying ‘killing two birds with one stone’ is very much applicable here. The Sinharaja forest is heavily abundant with rich biodiversity and animal species that are endangered and endemic to the country.

How to Get There
From Colombo to Kitulgala
By Car – It will take approximately 2 hours, 56 minutes to reach Kitulgala driving from Colombo.

By Train – Take the train from Colombo fort railway station to Kudahakapola, and then drive 2 hours 22 minutes to reach Kitulgala from there.

From Hatton to Kitulgala
By Car – Driving from Hatton to Kitulgala will take around 1 hour, 4 minutes which is a short distance to reach – and very convenient as well.

From Kandy to Kitulgala
By Car – Travelling to Kitulgala from Kandy will take approximately 2 hours, 2 minutes to reach there. Epic Sri Lanka Holidays will be able to arrange a chauffeur driven car for you.

By Bus – Take the direct bus to Kitulgala from Kandy which will be around 2 hours to reach, and it is worth it because you will save 45 minutes having to wait for the next bus.

From Nuwara Eliya to Kitulgala
By Car – Travelling by car to Kitulgala from Nuwara Eliya will take approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes to reach there.

Kitulgala is in the wet zone area, it gets two monsoons a year – and each year there are records of the highest rainfall in the country. The best time to go would be during the first three months of the year January to March.

Food and Drink
The Plantation Hotel – This hotel is a perfect stop over for a nice dining experience after the white water rafting which will certainly make you hungry for some great food – which they will happily offer. They’ve got the international buffet including Sri Lankan, Asian and Vegetarian friendly food. You can enjoy some delicious meals provided and get a taste of the traditional Sri Lankan food. It’s a lovely experience as you have the opportunity of dining with the river view right next to you – so it’s scenic as well. The surroundings are absolutely calming and peaceful – with the water flowing and gushing in the background.

The Bridge Restaurant– It is a classical rest house that is perfect for people to stop by for a bit and relax after hiking or the rafting they participated in earlier. It is located near the Kelani River and overlooks some fantastic views which are breathtaking – not forgetting the lush forest reserve on the other side of the river. It is a colonial style house that has been converted into a restaurant and they offer a selection of both eastern and western cuisines, including the Sri Lankan dishes. From grilled meats to sandwiches and pastas they’ve got a variety of savory food. Their alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages consist of mocktails, cocktails and wine – the prices may vary accordingly.


White Water Rafting – ‘Kitulgala’ is a white water rafter’s dream. With seven grade rapids along the Kelani River, white water rafting takes you through many challenges. There are different rapids that are categorized according to their character with some interesting names like ‘Butter Crunch’, ‘Virgin’s Breast’ to name a few out of the others.

Jungle Trek on Confidence Jumps – A fun and interesting excursion that makes you see exotic plants and other species in a closer view. The scenery around is pleasant and charming and is a great spot to take a lot of scenic pictures of the surroundings and the river in all its natural beauty.

Trek to location of – Bridge on River Kwai – Kitulgala is the location as to where ‘The Bridge on River Kwai’ was filmed – a very famous movie in the 1950’s. Unfortunately the bridge no longer exists as it was blown up as a climax originally in the film, and only the foundation can be seen.

Mountain Biking – Biking through the forest would also be considered as a great way to experience the stunning scenery, see some tea and rubber plantations as well as the local lifestyle in the village. It will provide with you with some insight as to how the locals live their daily life.

The Belilena Cave – A historic landmark that’s believed to have fossils and prehistoric human presence as early as 32,000 years have been recorded from recent archaeological excavations. It lies on a steep hill that overlooks a scenic view of rubber plantations of the Kitulgala estate.

Rock Sliding – After the white water rafting, you may want to try rock sliding which is a lot more thrilling and wild – it involves a short trek to another smaller river in the area where there are a lot of small canyons, waterfalls and plunge pools

Waterfall Abseiling – A waterfall by itself is already majestic enough – but abseiling takes this feeling a few notches higher when you’re literally hanging onto a rope for your life and there’s nothing but water around you – now that’s the type of adrenaline rush everyone’s after these days.