Kitulgala: Site Details

Rapids, Rubber and Relaxation

Sites of interest and activities from Kitulgala include:

  • Belilena Cave
  • Kelani Valley Forest Reserve
  • White-water Rafting
Lotus flower, Sri Lanka

Belilena Cave

One of the Larger Prehistoric Caves on the Island

Belilena Cave, which is about 10 km from Kitulgala high up in the Inoya Estate, is one of the larger prehistoric caves on the island, where the 12,000-year-old skeletal remains of ’Balangoda Man’ (Homo sapien balangodensis) were found. The prehistoric settlements of the area date back to a very early period, as shown by recent cave excavations as well as those carried out at other sites. The earliest settlement dates back to around 30,000 years ago. Skeletal remains, microliths, bone implements, cherts and food remnants have been found in local caves. Evidence of prehistoric animals has established that hippopotamus, rhinoceros, lion and three species of elephant lived in the area.

Lotus flower, Sri Lanka

Kelani Valley Forest Reserve

Lowland Endemic Bird Life

Although the nature trails in the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve offer similar bird-watching opportunities to Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve, this area is still well worth a visit. Like Sinharaja, the lowland rainforest around Kitulgala is one of the best spots to see endemics on the island. For example, the Sri Lanka Hill Munia, Chestnut-backed Owlet and Sri Lanka Small Barbet are all resident here, and the Green-billed Coucal is certainly easier to see at Kitulgala than in Sinharaja.

White-water rafting on the Kelani River, Kitulgala, Sri Lanka

White-water Rafting

Kelani River Rapids

The Kelani River offers three different sections for white-water rafting. Most people who are beginners will head for the middle section, which has six Grade 2 or 3 rapids separated by peaceful stretches of calm water. The more challenging upper section has very few calm stretches between rapids and is popular with intermediate rafters. The lower section is calm enough for children to be introduced to this adrenaline-inducing water sport. The Kelani River has been dammed for a hydroelectric plant upstream so the river’s flow is dependent on the plant’s requirements.

Nearby Locations

Explore the Hill Country and areas near Kitulgala.

“Had a fantastic trip. The drivers [guides] were lovely and very informative, and the hotels we stayed at were some of the best we've ever stayed in.”

Tom & Stephanie