A small town in west of Sri
Lanka. It is in the wet zone rain forest, which
gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest
places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive
in the first three months of the year, especially
in February, the driest month.
Large numbers of people make the excursion from Colombo
at weekends to enjoy the beautiful scenery, play in
the river, and have an excellent rice and curry lunch
at the local restaurants. The Kelani river is wide
at Kitulgala, but it is shallow apart from a deep
channel near the opposite bank, so in the drier months
it provides a safe and attractive place to swim, wash
The river can be crossed by walking out across the
shallows and crossing the deep channel in a dugout
canoe, which is stabilised with an outrigger.
The agriculture around Kitulgala is typical of the
hilly wet zone. The Sago Palm, Caryota urens, which
is called Kitul in Sri Lanka,
gives rise to the town's name. Its sap is concentrated
into a delicious syrup, not dissimilar to maple syrup,
and crystallised as jaggery. It is also fermented
to make toddy. The pith is used to make sago, and
the fibres to make rope.
Bananas of both red and yellow varieties are grown.
The yellow bananas are only some 8cm long, but are
sweeter and tastier than the commercial strains available
in the West. Rubber trees are also grown on the higher
Many birders stay at Kitulgala. This area has most
of the rain forest bird species that are found at
the World Biosphere Reserve at Sinharaja, although
in lower numbers. However, the secondary forest and
cultivation at Kitulgala is more open than the pristine
woodlands of Sinharaja, and elusive endemic species
like Sri Lanka Spurfowl,
Green-billed coucal and Spot-winged Thrush may be
easier to see. The hills above the rubber plantations
also have Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crested Treeswift and
Layard's Parakeet. Kitulgala is worth to see!