Above photo-Nancy Hunter
Kitulgala, Sri Lanka - Nature Trail
Kitulgala is located southwest of enchanting Kandy & north of famous mountain "Adam's Peak". The location of David Lean's classic in 1957, Oscar-winning film 'The Bridge on the River Kwai', Kitulgala is the Sri Lanka's favourite village for White water rafting. To make it easier for you, there is a paved pathway to the exact main location of the film. For the birders, Kitulgala is irresistible too: 38 species of birds are found here. For the shutterbugs the limitless green & green rainforest serves endless landscapes
Kitulgala is a small peaceful village set about halfway of the scenic main road descending gently from the hill country (Central highlands) to wet lowlands. The village is well known for its Kitul Pani (Kitul palm honey) production too. It's a beautiful setting; the scenery is particularly dramatic hereabouts, with sheer-sided, thick rainforest-covered hills plunging down to the wild waters of River Kelani.
The stretch of the River Kelani around the village, the "Kitulgala rapids" range from Grade 2 to 4. The names of the rapids are no less seductive to that of the waters: Virgin's ***, Butter Crunch, Killer's Fall, White quarter, Head Chopper, Rafter's quarter. Waters having washed away your sins, you get cured of all your fears by the end of a 7 km stretch of the river wild, tumbling over 7 rapids within 90 minutes with the hands of yours, your buddies & the hand of god (with apologies to legendary Diego Maradaona) saving you from a couple of violent tosses. All is well since a pilot kayak is guiding you.
As if the kayaking hasn't not exhausted you, there is an exhilarating trekking opportunity through the virgin forests, lush green tea estates & gurgling waters. 5 km ahead are caves called Beli-lena lying beneath a waterfall where you could have a plunge. In these partly excavated caves several skeletons of Modern Man & pre-historic tools have been found dating back 28,000 years. Though area around the caves is a wonderful site to watch birds & butterflies, but the interior of the caves are full of dangers: cobras & vipers. Still ahead is the pleasing view of Kitulgala Tea Estate.
Red rice, Jack Fruit
We trek back to the village of Jackfruit trees & Mango trees. Let's make a move to the Rafters Retreat on the village side of the river. Set amidst rainforest is a rock strewn path leading to the Log cabins called "Cabanas" with roofs of thatched coconut palm leaves. A spring of water that sprouts out of chiselled piece of rock serves your tiredness as your royal shower. Also served is authentic Sinhalese cuisine. The right stuff of the village: Red rice, Jackfruit, Lotus stem curry, Mango curry, Cabbage etc all seasoned with spices & generous amounts of coconut milk or coconut sauce.
The best dessert in the world
You will top the heavy meal with a dessert, a superior kind of yogurt - fermented buffalo creamy white milk - called Curd with generous dollops of reddish brown Kitul palm honey poured over. Aha, that's what you call a dessert. This is the best dessert in the world. And, what's more that's natural to the hilt.