KITULGALA
 
  Kitulgala, a small village full of friendly locals, little shops and a handful of food spots, is halfway to Hatton from Colombo, and en-route to the hill town of Nuwara Eliya. It is a fabulously peaceful, colourful and historic attraction that is a great place to either relax or take up some of the activities offered, such as white-water rafting, bird watching and cave exploration.
 
It may already be familiar to many due to its starring role as the beautiful main location for the 1957 Oscar-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai. Though there is no bridge remaining, since it was blown up at the end of the film, it is still a popular place for film buffs to visit. But what better place to view the bridge location from than the river itself whilst doing what Kitulgala is now most famous for – white-water rafting? A handful of operators are now offering rafting trips from here on the Kelani River, which originates in the Adam’s Peak area, though one of the best is run from the natural luxury of The Rafter’s Retreat which is also a great place to stay. Rafting is great fun and best when the rapids are a grade three to four, and it is perfect for beginners as well as rafting experts.  

Away from the river, bird watching in Kitulgala is considered top class and can result in you seeing many of the country’s endemic bird species as well as reptiles. There are good treks offered into the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, a rich lowland tropical rainforest, to see many butterflies and insects. You’ll go on a charming local ferry ride across the river in the early misty morning, walk up through rural villages to the wooded mountain above and to a waterfall. Another place to spot wildlife is at the Beli Lena Caves that are five kilometres up a little mountain road just outside Kitulgala. It is here that a head and many bones were found of Balangoda Man, including a child dating back over 30,000 years.

(Content reference: Travel Sri Lanka Magazine)
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