Among the many places travelers choose to visit in Sri Lanka, Kitulgala has always been on top of the bucket list for its phenomenal adventurous experience. You have plenty of things to do on this site where a single day won’t be even enough!
Kitulgala (කිතුල්ගල) is in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka, nestled among the thick forests and mountains. It is the most popular adventure water sport site in the country, visited by thousands of travelers each year. Apart from water sports, the area is rich in biodiversity and has abundant places to explore, including ancient caves, waterfalls, etc.
So, let’s dive in and see what we have got to share with you about this incredible location in Sri Lanka!
Where Is Kitulgala (කිතුල්ගල) Located?
Kitulgala is located in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka, which is about 62 miles away from the main city of Colombo. It is a small town situated approximately at 400 feet elevation from sea level.
For Those Who Wonder How To Get To Kitulgala…
Well, like getting to most places in the country, you can always use the two main modes of transportation to get to this location as well. However, everything depends on where you currently stay in Sri Lanka.
So, if we take Colombo as your present location, you can take both buses and trains if you prefer public transportation. There are direct buses to Kitulgala, while the nearest train station to this location is Avissawella.
From there, it will take around one and a half hours to reach your destination, where you will have to take a bus or private vehicle. Public transportation can be budget-friendly, but traveling by a private vehicle can be much more convenient. You can hire a vehicle from any taxi service in Sri Lanka and directly reach Kitulgala at your own pace.
Why Is Kitulgala So Important?
Having one of the most beautiful river settings in the country, Kitulgala is favored among nature and adventure lovers for the unmissable experience this place has to offer. People from around the country and world gather around the Kelani River that flows through this location to indulge in the best-experienced water sports one could have in life.
Thick vegetation, favorable climate and jungle-clad mountains make it the perfect holiday retreat for any environment enthusiast. Kitulgala is also famous as one of the shooting sites included in the Oscar award-winning movie ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai.’
The mystical hills and endless sounds of nature will showcase the beauty of the country, filling your heart with an enigmatic feeling and increasing your urge to explore the untouched areas of this place. Apart from the adrenaline-spiking water sports, the site is worth spending a few days as it possesses some magical places that should be explored at least once in a lifetime.
Altogether, it becomes a place that should be included in your Sri Lankan itinerary if you’re someone who needs to have a distinctive, daring escapade in life, getting away from all the boring things you’ve been doing so far!
Things You Need To Know Of The History Of Kitulgala
Kitulgala is a significant milestone in the history of Ceylon that dates back to the prehistoric era. The name “Kitulgala” is known to be derived from the fishtail palm tree (aka Kitul tree), which is widely used in Sri Lanka to make toddy, jaggery, and honey.
This area has been rich in kitul cultivation since ancient days and is believed to be a central hub of the Kandyan Kingdom. The sources also claim that Kitulgala has been a popular destination for British planters during the British era in Sri Lanka.
The area was also a significant location during World War II, contributing as a training ground for the soldiers in an award-winning movie (we mentioned the name earlier). Adventure water sports became popular in the late nineties, and this area has been one of the most popular holiday destinations ever since.
What Kind Of Experience Can You Have In Kitulgala, Sri Lanka?
As said before, Kitulgala is a utopia for adventure lovers since you can engage in a variety of exhilarating water sports. But at the same time, it is also a great place to explore, trek, and unwind with nature. For this reason, Kitulgala is seemingly increasing its popularity as an active outdoor holiday destination, filled with excitement and tranquility simultaneously.
Water Sports In Kitulgala
While white water rafting is the famous water sport you can do on this site, there are a few other activities, such as swimming, canoeing, waterfall abseiling, stream sliding, and confidence jumping.
You’ll get some of the best tides in the Kelani River, made for these water activities where you will encounter an endless adventure. Several adventure companies will help you out with these venturesome water sports.
The rapids are suitable for anyone, so you can enjoy them even if you’re a beginner. Company guidance will be provided along with gear and safety equipment such as helmets, life jackets, boards, etc. You can enjoy it with your whole family while giving your kids an unforgettable life experience.
Trekking And Hiking
Even though Kitulgala is known for water sports, you might not know that you’ve got plenty of places to explore around this area. As we mentioned earlier, this place has historical significance with existing evidence worth exploring.
Trekking and hiking on this site will offer an excellent opportunity to indulge in nature. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the lush forests, enchanting hills and mountains, and mysteriously beautiful caves such as the Belilena Cave.
You can cross the Kelani River in a boat to get to the forest reserve to see many kinds of endemic flora and fauna. It also has secluded waterfalls and streams like:
- Aberdeen Falls
- Nalagana Ella Falls
- Lenthiri Ela Falls
- Makulu Ella Falls
When you are tired of walking, you can dip in one of these waterfalls to refresh and observe the surroundings more.
Birdwatching In Makandawa Forest Reserve
Here’s a piece of good news for those who love birdwatching! The neighboring Makandawa Forest Reserve in Kitulgala is the perfect place to feast your eyes on observing colorful and charming birds. There are hundreds of different endemic birds residing in this luscious rainforest.
This is undoubtedly one of the best places in Sri Lanka for wildlife photographers, and you can also collect some great snaps to post on your social media feeds.
Jungle Camping Under The Stars!
In addition to water sports, jungle camping in Kitulgala is another popular activity you could engage in. While the daytime can get a little bit busy, this area can get serene and give you the unique feeling of the wilderness.
Several campsites can be found around this area, and the companies providing the relevant services will supply you with all the equipment needed and proper guidance. A magical night spent under the stars will be a cherished moment as you can also closely observe the wildlife in their own habitat.
Nature Trail On A Bike…
If you plan on spending a few days in this area, we are responsible for ensuring you make the most of your visit.
That being said, exploring the area on a bike is another wonderful experience you can have while staying in Kitulgala. You can get a bike from the adventure company you are contacting, and even some hotels in the area also provide bicycles for rides.
You can experience the local lifestyle while passing through the quaint little villages and enjoying the panoramic views of beautiful Sri Lanka! Do not forget to stop by little shops by the side of the road and enjoy authentic food and a cup of aromatic Ceylon tea they have to offer!
What Is The Best Time To Visit Kitulgala?
You can visit this place any time of the year. Yet, the dry months with less rainfall, such as January, February, and March, would be ideal so that you can get a better experience. During these months of the year, the weather is vibrant, making it favorable for you to engage in adventure water-sports more thrillingly.
Safety And Security Tips And Things You Need To Remember When Visiting Kitulgala
The most important thing you must first remember is that the top attraction of Kitulgala is the water adventure site.
Thus, if you are not much of an adrenaline junkie, this site might not offer you much. But still, the site itself is one of the best places in the country.
So you can go sightseeing, observe the wildlife in the rainforest, and visit the waterfalls if you think it is worth doing so. However, you should remember some essential things before organizing your trip to Kitulgala.
- You could be an expert in water sports, but we highly recommend that you take the help of an adventure company before stepping into the water.
- The same thing should be applied if you plan to camp around this area. An experienced tour guide will show you the right spot to place your tent and guide you throughout the trip to have the best experience.
- Kitulgala is a great place to unwind, but it still has more adventurous things to do. Therefore, we do not encourage you to visit this place with your kids and infants if you are pregnant or if you are under medication for certain ailments.
- Before entering the adventure site, leave your valuable things inside your vehicle or lodging.
- Cameras, drones, tripods, and other digital devices can be taken at your own risk.
- Women are encouraged to pack their sanitary items before visiting this place.
- Trekkers and hikers are encouraged to wear suitable clothing, carry sun protection applications and gear, wear hiking boots/ shoes, and carry enough water and mosquito repellents.
- Always remember that water sports should always be conducted according to the guidelines provided. If you go beyond, the consequences can be dangerous.
- Only enter the rainforest or dip in the waterfalls with the help of a guide.
- The forest area is highly reserved, so you must be on your best behavior without disturbing the wildlife.
Where Can You Stay And Eat In Kitulgala?
With the increasing tourism around Kitulgala, you have the opportunity to enjoy the luxury of some high-end hotels around this area.
There are many eco-lodges, hotels, resorts, villas, and even cabanas in this area to choose upon your budget and needs. Most of them provide excellent amenities and great food to make your stay memorable.
Some of them even have spas so that you can pamper yourself with a calming ayurvedic spa session. In addition, there are also many local eateries with delicious menus that include authentic Sri Lankan food items.
Nearby Attractions In Kitulgala That Might Interest You
After visiting and experiencing all you have in Kitulgala, you have a few other places to take a detour. You can take the route via Avissawella and reach Nuwara Eliya and Ella area, which will take around a 2-hour ride from your destination.
If not, you can reach Kegalle and then directly get to Kandy, which will also take about 2 hours. All these areas have plenty of things to discover to make the best of your journey to Sri Lanka.
Satiate Your Adrenaline Rush With Everything Kitulgala Has To Offer You!
Huge rapids of gracefully flowing water of the Kelani River topple down the giant rocks making foamy mist as if they invite you to get immersed in the beauty and adventure that Kitulgala has to present.
Whether you’re an adventure lover, nature enthusiast, or wildlife seeker, this location can satisfy all your needs within a small span! The uncanny beauty of Kitulgala is such a wonder of mother nature that you should not miss it by any means during your stay on our beautiful island.