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Sinharaja and Kitulgala

Sinharaja and Kitulgala, located in Sri Lanka’s western region, are two captivating destinations that offer unique experiences for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Sinharaja, a renowned rainforest, mesmerizes visitors with its lush greenery and diverse wildlife. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to numerous endemic species of fauna and flora, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

In contrast, Kitulgala, a small town nearby, offers an adrenaline-filled experience for adventure seekers. The region is famous for activities like white-water rafting along the Kelani River, canyoning, and hiking. Kitulgala gained recognition from the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which was filmed on the Kelani River, adding an intriguing element to its charm.


The Sinharaja Reserve has a wet equatorial climate and, in common with the south west highlands which it fringes, is one of the wettest part of Sri Lanka. Dryest months are January to March and July to September. Sri Lanka is affected by two monsoons which generally means that there is good weather somewhere. The main south-west (“yala”) monsoon brings rain to the west and south-west coasts and hills largely between May and July. The north-east (“maha”) monsoon hits the east coast predominantly from November to January. There is also an inter-monsoonal period of unsettled weather in October.

Getting There
Sinharaja Rainforest can be variously accessed from Colombo, Kandy, Uda Walawe and the south. Kitulgala is on the A7 and can be reached directly from Colombo, Kandy or the highlands. A two-hour drive east from Kitulgala takes you to Hatton, Adam’s Peak, Dickoya and Nuwara Eliya in the Hill country.

sinharaja rain forest

Sinharaja Rainforest

The last surviving stretch of virgin rainforest in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is moist and muggy, a murky and mysterious land of exotic colours and wonderful sounds.

The Sinharaja region has long played an important role in the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka: folklorists believe that the name of the forest, which literally means ‘lion king’, suggests its significance as the primary home of the legendary lion of Sri Lanka. Other less romantic historians believe that the name refers to Sinharaja’s role as the ‘king-sized’ or ‘royal’ forest of the Sinhalese people, at a time when over 100,000 hectares of wet evergreen jungle covered the south-western hills and lowlands of Sri Lanka.

Duration: 3 hours
Best time: Year-round

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White-Water Rafting and Canoeing

Experience an exciting rafting adventure in a jungle paradise. The Kitulgala-Kelani Forest Reserve, which sits on the edge of the island’s central highlands, is the best place to go white-water rafting in Sri Lanka. The Kelani River runs down from Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, and offers adventure enthusiasts a range of different activities, from the popular white-water rafting to canyoning. Sri Lanka’s low-country lakes, lagoons and rivers in other parts of the island also offer opportunities for scenic boat rides, canoeing and kayaking.

Duration: 3 hours
Best Time: Year-round


Bird Watching in Sinharaja

The last remaining virgin rain forest of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja forest reserve is a utopia for wildlife, especially the feathered creatures – birds! With 147 species of birds found in this area, bird watching in Sinharaja is an extraordinary experience.
Spot the national bird of Sri Lanka, the Jungle fow. The forest reserve is the only area, where 21 out of 26 species of birds that are endemic to Sri Lanka, can be found. Capture the rare and unique birds and preserve the memorable experience of your journey through the forest.

Duration: 3 hours
Best Time: Year-round

sinharaja rain for

Day-trip to Sinharaja

A day trip to the Sinharaja Forest from your destination of stay, in which you would leave after breakfast early morning and return back to your destination in the evening.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka’s primary and only remaining virgin rainforest, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides for the perfect place for all nature lovers. Having been designated as a world biosphere, it is an expansive area rich in biodiversity of flora and fauna, trees, endemic species of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and more. Since the vegetation of the forest is very dense, there is not much wildlife except for a few elephants and leopards which are very rare to see.
Engage in trekking excursions through the forest which will cover all the main attractions within the forest. Since Sinharaja is a bird’s paradise with many species of birds, you can enjoy bird watching seeing various birds such as the Jungle Fowl (the National bird) the Spur Fowl, the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and the Ceylon White-headed, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lankan white-headed starling, and the Red-faced Malkoha and butterflies. Along the trails, you would encounter majestic mountain peaks and stunning waterfalls enabling you to enjoy a quick swim in its natural pools.
Stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, you will begin a trail through the village to encounter more species of birds such as parakeets, mynahs, starlings and more.

Duration: 1 day
Best Time: Year-round


Canoeing in Kitulgala

Spend three nights at Borderlands in Kitulgala, a remote area on the western edge of Sri Lanka’s glorious hills known for its adventure activity opportunities. During your stay, you will have the chance to go white-water rafting on Grade 2 and 3 rapids, go hiking through forest and rubber and tea plantations, and tackle two of the island’s most spectacular canyons.
The team at Borderlands are all qualified guides and they use international-standard safety equipment. You will be given a thorough safety briefing before attempting each activity.

Duration: 3 or 4 days
Best Time: July to September