Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka and Kitulgala adventure day trip

Whitewater rafting in Sri Lanka is essentially a part of the adventure trip to Kitulgala. This means that White water rafting in Sri Lanka is synonymous with Kitulgala white water rafting. Kitulagala is considered one of the best places for Sri Lanka adventure tours and it offers dozens of adrenaline-pumping activities such as Whitewater rafting, kayaking, rainforest trekking, hiking, and many more. However, Whitewater rafting is the most popular activity in Kitulgala. Water rafting with Kitulgala adventure day trip at the well-known adventure playground of Sri Lanka, Kitulgala. There are several places on the island where you can go for Whitewater rafting, but none of them is far superior to Kitulgala water rafting…Kitulgala boat rafting.

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Kitulgala and the surrounding area are a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. It’s an area characterised by Rivers, forests, streams, mountains, plantations, waterfalls and many other attractive features. All this provides an unparalleled opportunity for unique experiences during your adventure-rich holiday in Kitulgala. Choose your adventure in Sri Lanka with whitewater rafting, Jungle trekking, waterfall abseiling, hiking, trekking, mountain climbing and many more. Kitulgala also provides easy access to the pristine beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Same time Kitulgala is a popular place that is very close to Colombo and easy to reach from Colombo.

Doing rainforest trekking is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka for nature lovers. Dozens of rainforests in Sri Lanka offer a fascinating opportunity to see a large number of fauna and flora in their natural habitat.

Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka: finding the best place

To enable foreign and local travellers alike to enjoy this unique destination, a day trip from Colombo and west coast hotels of Sri Lanka, has been launched by Seerendipity tours. This one-day trip includes many interesting features such as 2 hours of trekking in the rain forest with bird watching, 2 hours of whitewater rafting, and trekking through the remote village, accompanied by delicious local lunch.

Sri Lanka holds a reputation as one of the best beach holiday destinations in Asia. The cultural sites, historical places, and wildlife reserves have also been able to influence travellers around the world to choose Sri Lanka as their holiday destination. But many other resources that are very potential, for the development of the tourism industry on the island such as rainforests, adventure sites, and national parks have been overlooked.

Inland water resources such as rivers, canals, and tanks, are also underutilized for recreation activities in the country. There is an upward trend over the several decades, in kayaking, Whitewater rafting, fishing and boating in inland water resources, however, there is a long way to go in the adventure tourism sector, according to the experts in the industry.

In this blog post on Kitulgala boat rafting, we discuss Kitulgala water rafting or Whitewater rafting at the well-known adventure playground of  Sri Lanka. There are several places in Sri Lanka, where you can go for Whitewater rafting, but none of them is far superior to Kitulgala for this adrenaline-pumping adventure.

What is KItulgala?

A lid-back sleepy village far away from hustle and bustle of the city, which is blessed with tropical green cover, peace and serene. Settled in a forested locality bordering the Kelani River, the visitors of Kitulgala are bestowed with beautiful scenery and many sites for adventure sports. This photogenic region is a settlement for a large number of mountains, and a top hiking spot for the ramblers on the island.

It is Kitulgala water rafting, kayaking, rainforest exploration, and mountain climbing are the activities that come into one’s mind upon hearing Kitulgala because Kitulgala has all-natural resources required for adventure activities.

Where is Kitulgala?

This beautiful laid-back village is located about 80km from Colombo on the A7 main road. Kitulgala is located in the foothills of Central highland. You will meet this fascinating holiday spot as you drive from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya of central highland, via Ginigathhena.

Travellers who are travelling from west coast beaches such as Colombo, Bentota, Hikkaduwa to Nuwara Eliya or vice-versa can easily enjoy the adventure-filled activities available in Kitulagala. Few activities such as Whitewater rafting, trekking or bird watching can be done within several hours, so one can add those activities to their tour itinerary without much trouble.

Kitulgala adventure day trip

Even though there are a lot of important places to visit and see within Colombo, one can make an interesting day trip, travelling to Kitulgala located just outside of Colombo. This would be an ideal escape from your routine activities in the office. You can get the taste of Sri Lanka’s natural wealth that Colombo does not offer.

Local tour operators such as Seerendipity tours organize Kitulgala adventure day trips from Colombo and other beach resorts on the west and south coast of Sri Lanka. Kitulgala adventure day trip usually includes the rainforest trek with bird watching and Kitulgala river rafting. Even though there are many dozens of interesting adventure activities in Kitulgala, due to time constraints, this Kitulgala adventure day trip includes only river rafting and a rainforest trek.

What is the Kitulgala water rafting program?

  • 07.00: Departure from a beach resort on the west coast
  • 09.30: River rafting in Kitulgala
  • 12.00: Lunch
  • 01.00: Rainforest trekking and bird watching
  • 02.30: Return journey to the hotel
  • 05.00: Arrive at Beach resort

What are activities included in the Kitulgala adventure day trip?

The travellers, who book Kitulgala adventure day trips can take part in one of the activities mentioned below.

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Caving
  • Hiking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Rainforest trekking
  • Waterfall abseiling
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird watching

The weather in Kitulgala

Kitulgala is a place for an adventure holiday in Sri Lanka and it is one of the most beautiful beaten path locality. Kitulgala is located in the wet zone of West Sri Lanka and gets nearly 5000mm of rainfall a year thereby making it the wettest region in the wet zone. Kitulgala is surrounded by Evergreen low land rainforests and the region is abundant with mountains, escapement and rainforests. The average temperature of Kitulgala is between 27 -32 C degrees Celsius.

Geographical facts about Kitulgala

Kitulgala is very beautiful due to its extensive forest cover, everywhere it is a lush green forest. As you take a walk off the roads, you see the endless green covers, huge rocks, jagged mountains, plantations, waterfalls and rivers, perfect settings for outdoor activities. However, there had been a notable change in the city over the last few years and the forest cover is reduced due to the new constructions. The beautiful forest, which was sitting along the road is diminished and a new town has been created, which is a notable change in Kitulgala because Kitulgala was a laid-back city and only a very few small boutiques were there in the past.

Kitulgala boat rafting facts

  • Distance from Colombo 80 km time 2 hrs
  • Distance from west coast 100 km time 3 hrs
  • Activities available – adventure activities

Sri Lanka 2 days Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka with Kandymore info on this trip

The diminishing green cover in Kitulgala

I travelled to Kitulgala recently and I had seen the changes in Kitulgala, unfortunately, it was not a positive change, I feel it can adversely affect tourism, the laid-back vibe is not there anymore and it is slowly turning into an ugly locality filled with buildings.

A large number of new shops popped up along the main road. This is mainly due to the development in the areas backed by eco-tourism and adventure tourism. However, diminishing forest cover invariably affect tourism in Kitulgala, because the healthy green cover, rivers, waterfalls and other natural resources are the main ingredients that attract travellers. Therefore, maintaining beautiful and healthy forest cover is extremely important in order to be attractive in the eyes of travellers.

Many foreign tourists make day tours to Kitulgala from beach resorts and hotels in the cultural triangle while local travellers make their way to Kitulgala at the weekends to enjoy nature and make some adventure sports.

Kitulgala water rafting and other adventure activities such as waterfall abseiling are one of Sri Lanka’s best-kept secrets. It is a magical landscape with mountains and escapements that is covered with tropical rainforest vegetation. The region is full of perennial waterways, shimmering rivers, and cascading waterfalls that run through the forested hills.

Sri Lanka upcountry tour with Kitulgala water rafting

Is it safe to do a water rafter in Kitulgala?

It is safe to do water rafting in Kitulgala. All private companies that conduct Kitulgala water rafting provide well-trained personnel to conduct Whitewater rafting in a very safe manner. Some of them are well trained and certified by the INTERNATIONAL RAFTING FEDERATION. Usually, the tourist board of Sri Lanka also conducts regular training programs for raft guides, in order to improve their skills.

Kitulgala water rafting is suitable for novices as well as more experienced adventure lovers. Depending on the requirement you will be given a difficult or less adventurous terrain.

Kitulgala adventure day trip with Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka

For people, who are holidaying on the beach, it is just a 3 hours drive from the west or south coast to experience an adventurous Kitulgala water rafting. Kitulgala is a remote and sleepy town in western Sri Lanka, which is about 80km from the commercial capital, Colombo. The best way of travelling to Kitulagla is via Awissawella.

You can explore Kitulgala in a day excursion from your beach resort and actively take part in many adrenaline-pumping activities such as Whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, trekking, mountain biking, and caving. Kitulgala was a world popular filming location in the 18s, as it was the site where the part of the film, ‘bridge over the river Quai’ was filmed. A part of the file was done in Thailand and the rest of the filming was done in Kitulgala.

Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka with an adventure tour

It is just two hours inland from Colombo, you can enjoy days exploring the beautiful tropical forests, mountains, valleys, and beautiful villages. There are several caves near Kitulgala that dates back to many thousand years, such as Belilena, which is a cave, which was occupied by the most ancient human in the country (stone age man, homo sapiens balangodensis), and is well worth a visit.

Kitulgala is rich in perennial water resources

Public transport in this less populated area is limited; renting a vehicle is the best way to reach this picturesque area. There are a number of treks and paths for hiking, cycling and walking in Kitulgala while a large number of mountains provide the possibility to do mountain climbing for the adventure enthusiast.

Kitulgala is an ideal holiday destination on the island if you look at nature retreats or holidays with outdoor activities. One of the longest rivers in Sri Lanka, the Kelani River is one of the most valuable assets of Kitulgala and maintains a healthy green cover around Kitulgala. The river splits the city into 2 parts and it can be used to do fishing and other water sports such as kayaking, and Whitewater rafting.

Streams and rivers with crystal clear water are screened by thick tropical rainforest vegetation. The area is full of green and ideal for nature lovers. There are several natural waterholes offering refreshing swimming opportunities for travellers. Some of the water holes are hidden deep in the jungle, requiring you to make the trek through the jungle in order to see them. Visitors of Kitulgala have plenty of opportunities keep to themselves occupied with various activities even for many days. The trips can be organized into surrounding attractions such as mountain villages, ancient caves, waterfalls, rainforests and Buddhist temples.

Visiting the rainforest on the Kitulgala adventure day trip

Apart from the adventurous activities, Kitulgala is another great location for rainforest exploration and bird watching. The city is lack luxurious accommodation despite the abundance of natural attractions. The city has a type of visitor, who has the thirst for adventure activities, sightseeing and nature trails rather than relaxing in a luxurious hotel. Many Eco-friendly small hotels are dotting the Kelaniya river, providing accommodation at an affordable rate. Most tourists passing by make a stop here and enjoy the sights of fauna and flora residing in the unspoiled rain forests with the looming mountains in the backdrop.

Kitulgala is one of the least explored destinations on the island, compared to places such as Kandy, Sigiriya, and Bentota. Most foreign tourists, as well as local travellers, are not aware of its potential for adventure tourism. Even though there had been an upbeat on tourism in the recent past the resort is yet to become a tourist hotspot. Kitulgala is an affordable holiday destination, where the accommodation, food, and adventure activities all are affordable compared to other tourist hot spots on the island.

If you look for challenging mountaineering activities places like Kitulgala can be promising places for your holiday. There is very rugged terrain in Kitulgala with abruptly rising mountains with green caps. Large rocks that originated millions of years ago are a prominent sight in the low-lying area of Kitulgala. It was here, that a part of the world-renowned Oscar-winning film “Bridge on the River Quai” was filmed.

How to find a place for Kitulgala water rafting?

The first thing I need to tell you here is that getting to Kitulgala is not easy: There are no trains to go to Kitulgala yet public buses can be useful if you are a thrifty traveller. One can get a bus from the main bus station in Pettah (Colombo). Hatton/Nawalapitiya bound buses or buses plying to Nuwara Eliya via Avissawella can serve you. Taxi is the best option with regards to transportation to Kitulagala, it is faster and more comfortable.

Kitulgala is a small town, however, a couple of new building has been introduced to the city over the last few years. Much of the green cover along the main road has paved the way for new buildings. The travellers can see a large number of offices of the boat operators that offer whitewater rafting tours along the main road.

Water rafting Kitulgala

Travellers who take part in multi-day Sri Lanka road trips have a better chance of coming across Kitulgala. Because the central mountain is included in most Sri Lanka tour packages. Kitulgala is located in the foothills of the central mountain range and one can reach Kitulgala from any of the cities in the mountains within a few hours time.

Kitulgala is a film location

The city of Kitulgala is a popular place among the people in Sri Lanka and abroad, while it was selected as the venue for the world-renowned, award-winning film “The Bridge on the River Kwai“. It was filmed on the Kalyani Ganga near Kitulgala. Unfortunately, there is nothing remains from the site, where the filming took place.

Organized day trips and excursions are the most popular way to visit Kitulgala. Most travellers visit Kitulgala on organized tours while some of the tourists hire private vehicles to get there. Most tourists occurring here are the adventure enthusiasts and young crowd, a heavily European crowd. I guess most older travellers stay away from Kitulgala because most activities offered here demand good physical strength and movability.

What are the adventure activities available in Kitulagala?

  • Boat rafting
  • Rainforest trekking
  • Mountain climbing
  • waterfall abseiling
  • Hiking
  • caving
  • Mountain biking

It is a little chilly unlike the basking sunshine in Sri Lanka Beach resorts like Bentota beach and Negombo beach, but it will not do much harm to your fun.  If you do Whitewater rafting in Sri Lanka on a day excursion from your beach hotel and do not stay nearby, pack extra layers and dry clothes to use after the adventure.

One can expect to have beautiful scenery around Kitulgala. It provides ample opportunities to make adventure activities such as Jungle walk, Waterfall abseiling, waterfall sliding, boat Rafting, Mountain climbing, Hiking, Trekking and Mountain biking. Kitulgala is considered one of the best palaces for biking, with many tracks through the mountains, escapement, tea plantations, slopes, valleys, as well as jungles. Mountainous terrains in Kitulgala provide maximum adventure experience for the bikers and some of these terrains are considered as finest biking sites in the world.

Kitulgala is the place where you can expose yourself to a stretch of wild waters of the Kelaniya River. The river is deep and the water flow is much calmer toward the leeward side, but towards the latter part, the river starts to flow hurriedly through the formation of rocks creating miniature waterfalls.

If you are wondering how to explore Sri Lanka with kids, it is highly recommended to consider taking a rainforest trek. It would definitely be a unique experience for kids on their Sri Lanka trip and it allows them to see a large number of Fau a and flora.

Kitulgala boat rafting

As the title of this article suggests the main ingredient of the article should be Kitulgala boat rafting and hereafter I’m going to stick to it. Kitulgala is the Whitewater rafting hotspot and many travellers head on to this serene locality for a quick day trip. If you are stationed in Bentota or any other beach resort on the west or south coast, you are not far from Kitulgala and it is a good idea to take a one-day or two days adventure tour with Kitulgala boat rafting to add a uniquely memorable and experience to your Sri Lanka holiday package.

When is the best time for whitewater rafting Sri Lanka?

Kitulgala boat rafting can be done throughout the year, but there are instances when Whitewater rafting is dangerous due to the extreme roughness of the water during the monsoon season. Sometimes Kitulgala boat rafting can be hindered due to the low level of water in the river too, during the drought. Therefore it is very important to choose the best time of the year to set off on your Whitewater rafting session.

Generally, the period from November to April is the best period of the year for Kitulgala boat rafting. During this time the river provides the best conditions for exhilarating adventure with plenty of water to drive you down swiftly. Kitulgala water rafting is categorized under grade six based on the difficulty and the danger posed.

Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka: Physical fitness required for boat rafting

Physical fitness and good health are very important in order to undertake Whitewater rafting. People with heart ailments, epilepsy and people who have difficulties in turbulent waters should avoid Whitewater rafting.

Rafting can be tricky if it is your first time, especially since the way of paddling has to be changed depending on the conditions of the waves. During the rapid drift, you are not allowed to loosen the grip on the paddle and you are likely to get drenched more.

Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka: Finding a mentor

With the experienced mentor at the helm, you will find the proper rhythm to paddle very soon. Positioning your feet correctly under the raft is important to keep your balance during the turbulence upon reaching big waves.  Life jackets and helmets are essential materials due to the looming rocks out of the water.

You tend to scream as you go through the rapids and be happy afterwards knowing you are through. Natural pools formed by the formation of rocks along the river allow you to take a break and have a bath in the refreshing water. The river banks on both sides are set on higher elevated ground and covered with lush vegetation. You would see the pure green cover and hear bird songs as you drift down fast.

The rate of your heartbeat can hit an atypical level as you hear the roaring sound of the minor waterfall in the distance, some people have filled with enthusiasm hearing the sound while some others plunge into fear and exhilaration in full swing. 

Kitulgala offers plenty of activities and can keep people engaged for weeks, so be sure to add it to your Sri Lanka tour itinerary. Don’t try planning to hang on here for a long time; it can be a blow to your budget due to many inviting adventures.

Whitewater rafting Sri Lanka: Specification of Kitulgala boat rafting

With Kitulgala boat rafting, you can relinquish the quiet, Whitewater experience with its 5 major rapids and 4 minor rapids. November to April is the best time to engage in Kitulgala boat rafting, because of the boost resulting in weather patterns during this period; rainfall is lowered making a river flow in style and at moderate speed rather than in wild nature. 

Below are the specification of Whitewater rafting grading 1 to 6

Grade One: the roughness of the water is low, and the ability to slight manoeuvring is sufficient. (very basic skill level)

Grade Two: the roughness of the water is greater than of grade 1, some rock formation can be seen, and basic paddling skills are required with some ability in manoeuvring.

Grade Three: small waves are visible, in the white water there can be small drops along the way. should have significant manoeuvring skills.

Grade Four: Medium waves with whitewater, considerable manoeuvring skills required, considerable drops and water move faster, therefore, good paddling skills required.

Grade Five: Large waves, a large volume of water that flows very fast, whitewater, high drops due to large rock formations. the chances for capsizing are great therefore the ability to precise manoeuvring is essential.

Grade Six: highest grade of whitewater rafting is very difficult to navigate, not suitable for novices and undertaken by experienced adventure enthusiasts.

Trekking and mountain climbing in Kitulagala

Kitulgala provides many sites for mountain climbers, however, mountain climbing is an activity included in multi-day Kitulgala trips but not in Kitulgala adventure day trips. There are many mountains in the area and one can experience the enjoyment of mountaineering adventure. Mountaineering in Kitulgala allows climbers to explore the fascinating mountain ranges. The mountains in Kitulgala, offer breathtaking, enthralling, climbing routes. Kelani River and the waterfalls around Kitulgala are other key attractions that enhance the experience of trackers and hikers.

Kitulgala is rich in history and tradition, and it is a paradise for nature photographers with plenty of visual delights: tumbling waterfalls, mountains, tea estates, and sweeping gorges.

Is Kitulgala good for Birdwatching?

YES! Kitulgala and the surrounding area provide some of the best sites for bird watching in Sri Lanka. Most endemic bird species are sighted in Kitulgala making it one of the most visited places among nature lovers. The Ceylon Spur Fowl, Crested Serpent Eagle, the Ceylon Hanging Parrot and the Lay lard’s Parakeet are some of the most sighted rare birds around the Kitulgala Adventure lovers can explore the deepest rivers, highest mountains, wildlife, and one of the best biodiversity hot spot in the world. A seven-kilometre Mountain bike track from Kitulgala takes you to Beli Lena.

A large forested area within Kitulagala provides a very safe and thriving environment for bird species. The bird-watching tour lasts about 3-4 hours on your trip to Kitulagala. The travellers need to take a walk into the Makandewa forest, which is the last part of the bird-watching tour in Kitulagala. In the beginning, the travellers take a walk from the main road towards the rural village passing the Kelaniya River, which sandwich between the main road and the village. The travellers may resort to the ancient hanging bridge or small catamaran to go to the other side of the river.

What are the most common bird species seen in Kitulagala?

  • Oriental Magpie Robin
  • White-bellied Drongo
  • Red-vented Bulbulongo
  • Layard’s Parakeet
  • Collared Scops Owl
  • Sri Lanka Flameback
  • Black-hooded Oriole
  • Common Myna
  • Loten’s Sunbird
  • Yellow-billed Babbler
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul
  • Black Bulbul
  • Sri Lanak Junglefowl
  • Spot-winged Thrush
  • Chestnut-backed Owlet
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • Lesser Yellownape
  • Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
  • Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
  • White-rumped Munia
  • Scarlet Minivet
  • Crested Serpent Eagle

Caving in Kitulgala

Kitulgala is the best place for Whitewater rafting in Sri Lanka but it does not stop there. Caving is another popular activity among tourist, who ventures on a Whitewater rafting tour, however, this activity demands you to stay at least 2 days in Kitulgala. Usually caving is not included in the Kitulgala adventure day trip.

Beli Lena is one of the few places, where the pre-historic man lived on the island. The cave is situated two thousand meters above sea level and surrounded by a rubber plantation. The cave was occupied by the pre-historic man called ‘Balangoda man’ or ‘Homo Sapians balangodensis’. During the excavation of the site, archaeologists found 16,000 years old skeletal with some other stone implements.

Some other caves produce even older specimens, for example, Fa Hien-Lena with 37000 years old skeletal, Batadombalena with 31000 years old skeletal. Artefacts found in this cave are also dating back to the pre-Christian era. Archaeologists have discovered some pre-historic tools that are 30000 years old from the Batadombalena. These artefacts provide valuable evidence about the South Indian civilization that existed in the pre-Christian era.

Makandewa rainforest Kitulgala

The forest cover of Makandewa spreads over 1155 hectares. Makandewa gets heavy rainfall every year and it functions as a catchment area in Kitulgala, inducing frequent rain. This untouched rainforest is home to many dozens of Fauna and flora; some of them are endemic to Sri Lanka.  Makandewa rainforest is especially popular for bird watching in Sri Lanka. It is inhabited by a large number of avian fauna species; therefore, the Makandewa rainforest is part of most Sri Lanka bird-watching tours. More than 54 species of birds can be witnessed in the Makandewa rainforest.

How to find accommodation on the trip to Whitewater rafting in Sri Lanka?

As I have already mentioned above Kitulgala mainly caters to adventure lovers. Most travellers arriving here are young travellers; even most of our customers who book this 6 days adventure tour are young travellers.

There are no noteworthy cultural or historical attractions near Kitulgala. If you kind of person, who love to explore the culture and history of a foreign country you better head on to cities in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka or Kandy. 

On the other hand, if you are a traveller who enjoys city life again Kitulgala is not a thing you love, because Kitulgala hardly shows the characteristics of busy cities.  If you love to sleep in the lap of Mother Nature, hear the bird songs; enjoy the rhythm of water flow while engaging in adrenaline-pumping activities Kitulgala is the best bet for you.

All places (Kitulgala, Udawalawe, Sinharaja ) that you come across on an adventure tour are suitable for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. None of these places offers activities for cultural and historical enthusiasts.

When it comes to accommodation in Kitulgala; don’t expect big-scale accommodation providers like in beach resort areas or cultural cities of Sri Lanka. In Kitulagala you get only a limited number of accommodation providers and they also have properties with limited room inventory. Most properties have 10-15 guest rooms.

Most properties provide standard facilities with air-conditioning, hot/cold water, and meals. There are only very few luxury hotels in Kitulgala, due to the low demand. Due to the type of travellers who come to Kitulgala; that mainly looking for adventure activities and rainforest treks, the demand for luxury accommodation is at a very low level. Most travellers, who come here are price sensitive and do not pay attention to luxury but look for a thrilling adventure with exposure to true nature.

In this 6-day Sri Lanka adventure tour, you will be accommodated in a 4* standard hotel in Kitulgala near Kelaniya River. The hotel is built in a calm and quiet place making you the space to enjoy inner peace. The hotel provides a nice and clean spacious room with AC, hot/Coldwater, twin beds, telephone facilities, Free WIFI, private VC, dining fasciitis, parking space, driver accommodation etc.