Kitulgala, a small town situated in the western region of Sri Lanka, is enveloped by the verdant wet zone rainforest, subject to two monsoon seasons annually, making it one of the wettest locales in the country. Despite its damp reputation, Kitulgala springs to life, particularly in the first three months of the year, with February standing out as the driest month. Notably, the Academy Award-winning film “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was shot along the Kelani River near Kitulgala, though today, only the concrete bridge foundations remain, along with rumored submerged train cars from the climactic scene. Serving as a base for white-water rafting adventures starting a few kilometers upstream, Kitulgala attracts throngs of weekend visitors from Colombo seeking to revel in the picturesque scenery, frolic in the river, and indulge in delectable rice and curry lunches at local eateries.

The Kelani River, expansive at Kitulgala, boasts shallow waters except for a deep channel near the opposite bank, offering a safe and inviting environment for swimming, bathing, and recreation during the drier months. Accessible by traversing the shallows and navigating the deep channel in a stabilized dugout canoe fitted with an outrigger, the river adds to Kitulgala’s charm and allure. Moreover, the forests surrounding Kitulgala harbor diverse avian species, including the recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl, whose calls were first heard by Deepal Warakagoda. Additionally, the hills above the rubber plantations provide habitats for birds like the Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crested Treeswift, and Layard’s Parakeet, enriching the area’s biodiversity and offering birdwatching opportunities for enthusiasts.