Kitulgala Rainforest Reserve – For the Adventurous Traveler

by | Apr 28, 2018

Sri Lanka tourism talks a lot about wildlife safaris and camping amidst the wildlife; but have you thought about camping in the rainforest reserves? Well, we have read your thoughts on that one too! Oh and keep in mind – camping in the rainforest comes with a whole lot of fun-filled adventurous activities on the side!

Kitulgala is a beautiful and scenic village situated in Western Sri Lanka, just about 95kms from Colombo, on one of the main routes that takes you from Colombo to Hatton, Nuwara Eliya and the rest of the hill country destinations. Because this area is in the wet zone, it receives rains during both monsoons that hit Sri Lanka – North Eastern and South Western monsoons. This heavy rainfall gives the region its lush greenery, lovely mountains and impressive while waters of the Kelani River.

The Kitulgala rainforest reserve, also known as Makandawa Rainforest, is accessible by crossing the Kelani River on a boat during the wet seasons and is even possible to wade across during the dry seasons.

How is Camping Possible Here?

Many tour operators in Sri Lanka will be able to arrange camping experiences for you in the Kitulgala rainforest reserve. Depending on how many nights you want to spend in the jungle, your tour will be arranged accordingly. A standard 2 night package generally begins at pickup from your destination early in the morning and after reaching Kitulgala, you will entertain yourself with some adventurous activities on both days and then rest at a scenic location where your campsite will be set.

What adventurous activities can one find in Kitulgala?

Nature trails and bird watching

Nature Tails into the beautiful rainforest reserve with the help of a specialist guide is an activity enjoyed by nature lovers seeking to explore the beauty of Mother Nature.

This 1155 hectare area of the forest reserve is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, including two scenic waterfalls – Makulu Ella and Lenakiri Ella. There are 54 rare bird species (Grey hornbill, Ceylong jungle fowl, Green billed coucal, red face malkoha and many more) in addition to the many common migrant birds who visit the rainforest. The giant squirrel and the slender Loris are two mammal species commonly seen here.

White Water Rafting

This thrilling activity is what most tourists are attracted to. The adrenaline rush experienced in the Grade 3 and 4 rapids offered by the Kelani River makes for an unforgettable adventure holiday.

Waterfall Exploration

The two waterfalls in this region offer bathing, abseiling and trekking activities for visitors of the rainforest. To get a close up of the stunning view of the waterfall, travelers trek all the way up to the site of origin. Bathing is an option for those who want to experience the thrill of naturally heavy showers of chilled water throbbing down on your body! Abseiling is another confidence testing adrenaline rush as you hang on a rope with nothing but water above and below you on a waterfall that is about 100 feet in height.

Confidence Jumps and Stream Sliding

Travelers are given the option to trek to one of the seven magnificent natural water pools that lie within the Kitulgala rainforest region. Stream sliding involves sliding down a 5 meter high waterfall and into the rock pool. At the same spot, the confidence jump involves jumping straight into the rock pool from the top of the mini water fall. Both activities definitely don’t go without safety gear being provided so don’t sweat it!


Travelers can hire mountain bikes and explore nearby areas of Kitulgala such as tea estates, rubber estates, and other scenic locations.

River Bathing

The Kelani River has beautiful open natural areas that shelter plant and animal species. Raft travel is ideal to explore nature and relax in these open waters. Life jackets are provided so you can simply get on and off the raft for a swim at any time as long as the waters are safe.

Flat Water Rafting

If you are travelling with infants and toddlers who are unable to enjoy white water rafting activities, you could opt for a leisurely floating trip on the flat waters of Kelani River. You can indulge in a flat water rafting picnic that goes up to 40kms, with your meals arranged on board your raft!

Oh and here’s one more super interesting fact about Kitulgala:

It is where the famous World War II epic film – “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was shot!

Yes! Now you have to get to that bridge and make your memories there!