Kitulgala – Kelani Valley Forest Reserve

Location: West, 110 kilometres from Colombo

Area: 2.65 square kilometres
Avg. Temperature: 27 °C
Avg. Annual Rainfall: 3500mm – 5250 mm

Kitulgala – Kelani Valley Forest Reserve is a small alluring town in the west of Sri Lanka that gets affected by two monsoons each year. It is one of the wettest places in the country and is the only base for white water rafting in the country! Kitulgala was established to protect the watershed of the Kelani River which flows alongside it and is widely known as the location for the filming of the Academy Award winning “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.

Kitulgala gets its name from the Sago Palm (Kitul) which is grown abundantly in this town. The sap is concentrated into delicious syrup and crystallized as jaggery. It can also be fermented to make toddy. The pith is used to make sago and the fibres to make rope.

Kitulgala is home to many of Sri Lanka’s endemic fauna and flora.  Some of the bird species that are found here are the Spot-winged Thrush, Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Ceylon Spurfowl, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Ceylon Scimitar Babbler and the Ceylon Frogmouth. The town is also home to many rare species of butterflies. Most of the endemic species can be seen here including the Tawny Raja, Red Helen, Blue Mormon, Tree Nymph, Common Blue Bottles and Blue Oak Leaf.

Mammal species found here include the Grizzled Indian Squirrel, Layard’s Striped Squirrel and the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. The streams hold endemic fish and many species of amphibians. The Earless Lizard, Kangaroo Lizard and the Hump-nosed Lizard are among the reptile species and are frequently seen in the foliage along the Kelani River.

Getting there:

The Kitulgala Rest House is just after the 37 km post on the A7. Take the ferry across the river and access the forest using the village trails.

Accommodation Options:

Kitulgala Rest House
Rafter’s Retreat
Plantation Hotel
Camping