White-water rafting is becoming more popular now than ever before
with adventure enthusiasts thrilled seeking all the way down at Kitulgala some serious action. Situated in the Sabaragamuwa Province,
maybe there were ‘Kitul’ trees at Kitulgala which would mean how its
Being a small town in the west of Sri Lanka, the natural forest
making the Kitulgala Natural Reserve lies in the wet zone forestry area
having two monsoons each year making it one of the wettest places in Sri
In the first three months of the year, Kitulgala is reborn undergoing
a green metamorphosis of wildlife and natural biodiversity and come
February, it becomes drier. The Academy Award-winning “The Bridge on the
River Kwai” was filmed on the Kelani River near Kitulgala, although
nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge (and,
supposedly, the submerged train cars that plunged into the river in the
“The Bridge on the River Kwai” is a 1957 British World War II film by
David Lean based on the novel ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ by French
writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the
construction of the Burma Railway in 1942-43 for its historical setting.
It stars Alec Guinness, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Hawkins and William
Holden. In 1997, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or
aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United
States Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Kitulgala is also a base for white-water rafting, which starts a few
kilometres upstream with many commercial properties and resorts
mushrooming to take thrill seekers on a nature trailing adventure.
White-water rafting, kayaking and canyoning are special treats
adventurers can indulge to drink in the beauty and closeness of nature.
Speaking to the Sunday Observer magazine was the Head of the
Borderlands Company that specialises in safe fun adventure on the Kelani
River streaming down at Kitulgala, Wade Campbell said, “The feeling of
nature with the splashes of the breakwaters against your skin, the
smells and sights of the trees and the whole adventure of experiencing
nature to the fullest fires a respect for Mother Nature and makes you
feel totally relaxed when you engage in white-water rafting in Kitulgala”.
Even though the Kelani river is wide at Kitulgala, it possesses a
shallow part from a deep channel near the opposite bank, making it a
safe and beautiful place to swim more so in the drier months. Crossing
the river is done by walking out across the shallow depths and into the
deep channel in a dugout canoe, which is stabilised with an outrigger.
The agriculture around Kitulgala is typical of the hilly wet zone
with the Sago Palm, Cary ota urens, which is called Kitul in Sri Lanka
and gives rise to the town’s name. Red bananas grow aplenty in Kitulgala
with red and yellow varieties and Kitulgala is also a haven for bird