White water rafting
Kithulgala, situated around 80 Kms away from Colombo - Commercial and Administrative capital of Sri Lankas - is very popular among adventure sport loves, mainly because of the facilities available for white water rafting. The Kalani river running through Kitulgala is the best place in Sri Lanka for this sport. There are number of facilitators in the area for white water rafting. Around the main sport, there are other adventure sports emerged as parts of Adventure Training Programs. Almost all those sports are based on the Kalani river and other water sources found close to the river.
Apart from this, Kitulgala is known for a famous move location, "Bridge on the river Kwai" directed by David Lean. The movie team has built a bridge over the river for the movie. Parts of the bridge constructed for the film - which was blasted using dynamite - are still there and accessible for all visitors. Kitulgala also hold number of waterfalls. Many of them are described in detail here.
Among general public of Sri Lanka, Kitulgala is popular because of the safe bath palace at the Kithulgala thotupola (port) behind the Kitulgala Rest House. Many who are visiting central hills through Awillasella - Hatton road stop by this place to enjoy a peaceful bath in Kalani river.
Black backed Kingfisher Although those are important tourist attractions in Kitulgala, it is the natural beauty and wildlife which attract myself to this wonderful lush green land. Especially the bird life in the area is remarkable. Makandawa Rain Forest Reserve is the main forest reserve in the area facilitate bird watching while there are many other forest patched which belongs to rain forest category. These rain forests are full of birds, including the riverine forests. One can see many endemic bird species in these forests far easily than in many other places such as Sinharaja Rain Forst though not all of them. I myself was fascinated by the amount of birds one can find in these small forest patches even without visiting the Makandawa forest reserve.
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher In one of my visits to the area, I was able to see 42 species of birds including Sri Lanka Chestnut Owlet, Orange-billed babbler, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot and rarely seen Black-backed Kingfisher. Other than those I have seen, there are many endemic bird species can be seen in the area including Sri Lanka Green-billed coucal, Sri Lanka Emerald-collared Parakeet, Sri Lanka Serendib Scops-owl and many others.
Situated in a middle elevation between central hills and the low wet zone, Kitulgala get showers through out the year. However, the season from November to April is relatively dry and this is the best time period for bird watching in the area. As all the birders knows, birds are mostly active in the morning and in the evening of a day while in Kitulgala, best time for bird watching is around the morning.
Orange billed Babler (endemic) Black caped Bulbul (endemic)
Next time when you get a chance to visit Kitulgala, don't just go there for a bath or white water rafting also look for the fabulous bird life you can experience which you will not be able to experience in any other place of the country so easily.