Located in the west of the island, the small town of Kitulgala lies in a wet zone rain forest bordering the tea country. The area receives two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest areas in Sri Lanka. Kitulgala was home to the location filming of the Academy Award-winning ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, filmed on the Kelani River nearby, although nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge and, supposedly, the submerged train cars that plunged into the river in the climactic scene.
A few kilometers upstream from here are the bases from which white water rafting expeditions take place. After coming off the slopes of Adam’s Peak, the clear waters of the Kelani River wind their way through the Hill Country of inland Sri Lanka before emptying into the Indian Ocean. Seven high quality, class II and III rapids and temperate waters make the Kelani a premier introduction to whitewater rafting. SriLankaInStyle works with only the best professionals in the area when organizing rafting expeditions.
An Insider's Perspective
Before joining SLIS, Gwen spent 2 ½ years working for outdoor adventure specialists Borderlands, now the Number One rated outdoor adventure company in Sri Lanka. During her time as their Head of Sales and Marketing, Gwen got to grips with village life in Sri Lanka, made peace with creepy crawlies of the jungle, spent hours looking at the stars by the camp bonfire, welcomed hundreds of guests from around the world who came looking for adventure and fell in love with Kithulgala, and got to love the people she worked with as much as she loved the activities she was lucky enough to promote and take part in.What is your favourite area?
Sandun Ella Waterfall is really hard to beat for views – the drive or hike up takes one through dense rubber plantations which eventually make way to tea fields, all the while interspersed with dense jungle and spectacular vistas. On reaching the top of Sandun Ella Waterfall the view is phenomenal. This is the location for the Borderlands abseiling activity – a four waterfall descent.What is your favourite activity?
Predominantly Kithulgala in known for its white water rafting, and the 7km stretch of the Kelani River is a perfect river those who want a Class III river thrill. The river is a pool-drop run, with exciting rapids followed by calm water, so it’s not too intense for those who may be a little nervous of running the rapids. It has a perfect section for younger kids aged under 11, which has enough of a thrill to keep them entertained so they don’t feel they are missing out on the action. However for me the highlight of coming to Kithulgala is to visit and “play” in the canyons – it’s an almost unheard of activity here in Sri Lanka, but there are a world of canyons out there waiting to be discovered in the area. At camp itself I recommend a river bath at the end, a well-earned cold beer in the Long House and then tuck into delicious rice and curry for dinner, before chilling out to some nice tunes whilst swinging in a hammock!Top Tip?
Come ready for action – wear suitable clothing – quick dry t-shirts, board shorts, swimming costume and most importantly suitable shoes. Crucial for safety on the river and in the canyon. No Flip Flops! Don’t discount Kithulgala as a destination for families – in my opinion it is one of the most child friendly areas in Sri Lanka and there’s something for everyone in the family – the beginner’s canyon is great for anyone with a sense of adventure, and the youngest in the canyon was 4 and the oldest, 64. There’s also mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, zip lines, high rope challenge – for the active family it’s unbeatable in Sri Lanka.Top Thrills?
The 12 meter jump at the Marvel Canyon which Borderlands opened up in April this year – heart thumping, terrifying and exhilarating all at once. A must do for adrenalin seekers! Taking the first step over the ledge for the first time at the Sandun Ella Abseil with an 80ft drop definitely gets your pulse racing and sets the butterflies fluttering in the belly! Your first swim (rafting speak for falling in the river from the raft) down a rapid is pretty intense, but knowing that the Borderlands staff are well trained and their equipment is world class means that there’s never any need to worry.