Why you should visit Kitulgala during your Sri Lanka itinerary

Do not ever be fooled by Sri Lanka’s calm and serene natural beauty. And don’t tell me that your Sri Lanka itinerary is filled with opportunities for sightseeing and relaxation only. If you are an adventure-seeker plus a nature-lover like me, read on to find out how to make your Sri Lanka trip an adventurous one. 

A place that you should be included in your Sri Lanka travel itinerary is the infamous Kitulgala town. The distance from Colombo to Kitulgala can be covered by a 2-hour drive. Kitulgala is an adventure destination popular among tourists and locals alike for adrenaline-kicking white-water rafting, rainforest trekking, stream slides, bird watching, and more!

These are the best things to do in Kitulgala on your Sri Lanka trip.

What is cooler than entering Kitulgala, trekking through its rainforest?

The path leading to the Kelani River where you wade into the white water for rafting is surrounded by a luscious rainforest. This rainforest is one of the wettest in the world, and you will thank the lord above and the experts that included Kitulgala in your Sri Lanka itinerary.

Mountain biking is also a loved activity in the rainforest. As you trek the wilderness, be on alert for the chirping birds hovering over you or hiding behind leaves. If you are a passionate bird-watcher, you won’t regret this part of your Sri Lanka trip. You will spot endemic birds like Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, etc.

In short, if your Sri Lanka itinerary doesn’t include the Sinharaja rainforest which is a UNESCO world heritage site, the Kitulgala Forest Reserve can bring you a similar experience.

You can also join a river expedition in the Mahaweli, Kelani, or Kalu Rivers of Sri Lanka. This activity in your Sri Lanka itinerary would let you sightsee the beauty of what nature in this tropical island holds so dearly. You will paddle through river crossings, elephant corridors, and ancient bridges that bear historical value.

Water abseiling – an adrenaline-pumping sight-seeing experience

How about gripping onto a rope against a waterfall and getting a birds-eye view of the emerald mountains and the jungle around you? Water abseiling is a daring, yet rewarding activity that not only gives you a high dose of adrenaline but also lets you enjoy the beauty of nature. This is an adventure that travelers love in their Sri Lanka itinerary when they are on a Sri Lanka trip.

Water abseiling is conducted under the careful supervision of the experts who will guide you to have a thrilling experience in the middle of the Kitulgala jungle. Test your courage with your family and friends after watching a demonstration by experienced instructors. 

If you include water abseiling to your Sri Lanka itinerary, you are in for a treat!

The bumpy ride that is white water rafting in Kitulgala

At the heart of the rainforest, you will reach the Kelani River with white water daring you to raft! If you are adventurous and are a superhero like me, it’s best to visit Kitulgala during the months between May to December when the water is more volatile than during the dry season.

Now don’t get all excited thinking that it’s the perfect opportunity to spice up your Sri Lanka itinerary– you.could.die during the rainy reason. I mean it. Therefore, the instructors decide whether rafting is safe or not.

That being said, only those 13 years and above are allowed to engage in this extreme sport of white water rafting at Kitulgala. Be prepared to get a killer experience of a lifetime while seeing flashes of natural beauty passing by as you battle in the stubborn waters. What other way to challenge yourself on your Sri Lanka trip?

Heal your soul in a natural pool 

After a daring day full of fun and challenging activities, slide through natural streams and jump into a natural pool in the jungle. If you visit Kitulgala, you don’t want to miss these natural pools surrounded by nothing but the luscious greenery, teasing you with a cold and calming breeze. 

A Kitulgala adventure is both the storm and the calm that makes a Sri Lanka trip awesome – don’t you agree?

Camping too? 

You are wrong if you thought that the Kitulgala adventure of your Sri Lanka itinerary is over after that daring water rafting experience. How does camping in the middle of the jungle sound? I hope you feel me on this because I absolutely loved it!

A Sri Lanka itinerary would disappoint me if camping was not included. Sitting around the campfire under the starry night with loved ones while drinking a cold can of Sri Lankan Lion beer makes for a night to remember. The smell of the BBQ, the scent of the forest, the soothing breeze, and the songs we would sing throughout the night is not only Sri Lankan, it’s universal!

Things to carry with you

  • An extra pair of clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimwear
  • A towel
  • Shoes that won’t slip off
  • A pack of toiletries (if you are camping)

The best things to do in Kitulgala in a nutshell

  • White water rafting
  • Rainforest trekking
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird watching
  • Stream sliding
  • River expeditions
  • Waterfall abseiling
  • Relaxing in natural pools
  • Camping
Low section shot of man and woman crossing the stream barefooted. Couple walking by the creek in forest with their shoes in hand. Hikers hiking in forest.

Things you should know before your Kitulgala adventure begins

  • Children of age 0-17 should be accompanied by a guardian or parent to be allowed for water rafting.
  • Littering in the rainforest or the Kitulgala premises is prohibited. Let’s make this Sri Lanka trip wholesome and eco-friendly.
  • Travelers are advised to wear masks and adhere to covid-19 guidelines.

My last thoughts for you

Spending a day or two in Kitulgala would be one of the best choices you would make for your Sri Lanka itinerary. You could be an adventure seeker or a nature lover, either way, the experience would be one to cherish. If you feel me, plan your Sri Lanka trip with local experts who know the wonders of Sri Lanka!

Discover The Various Handy Crafts Unique To Sri Lanka.

Arts and crafts are an inherent part of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and historic heritage. Popular handicrafts include gem works, mask making, pottery, sculpting, intricate lace crafting, lacquer work, and batik. These handiworks are also ideal souvenirs to take home as mementos and to share as gifts with friends and family. 

A wide range of handicrafts are available in the shops and stores in and around Colombo, but no vacation in Sri Lanka is complete without seeing the hard work that goes into creating these iconic masterpieces, first-hand. Include an Arts & Crafts tour to your Sri Lanka itinerary for a comprehensive Sri Lankan experience. 

Sri Lankan Masks

Sri Lankan devil masks are deeply connected to Sri Lankan folklore, and take on a functional role when they are used in rituals and ceremonies. The popular devil dances, which are dance-drama performances that convey elaborate stories, are enacted by experienced dancers and holy men while wearing these masks. The prominent categories of masks are the Raksha Masks used to perform Raksha dances, the Sanni masks used in healing rituals, and the Kolam masks which are used mainly in dramas.

Today, they are more of a symbol of Sri Lankan culture and adorn the walls of local houses. These masks with their colourful facades, odd shapes, and intriguing histories are ideal souvenirs loved by tourists.

Ambalangoda is the heart of the mask industry in Sri Lanka. The coastal town features mask shops by the side of the road. Pop into one of these stores to get a glimpse of how these masks are carved and painted with brilliant colours.

sri lanka traditional masks by olanka travels

Sri Lankan Laksha (Lacquer work)

Lacquer work in Sri Lanka is a well-known, intricate craft that has been in practice for centuries. These handicrafts reflect the country’s rich tradition and are a must-see for all travellers and tourists longing for a collection of Sri Lankan souvenirs. Lacquer production originated in central Sri Lanka and has since expanded throughout the island. Reflecting local culture, the Laksha design is carried out in two splendid techniques which are nail work and lathe work. 

Laksha is a wax derived from the larvae of an insect species and is manufactured with much hard effort by local craftsmen. While some choose to employ age-old processes, others prefer to use new tools and procedures created over time in the crafting of these exquisite patterns.

Colourful and vibrant walking sticks, flag and hand-fan handles, bowls, vases, containers, and ornamental objects crafted with lacquer work can be found all around the island.

Sri Lankan Drums

Music is at the very heart of the Sri Lankan culture; the famous local drums offer a glance into the country’s vibrant traditions when it comes to rhythm and dance. Traditional drums or ‘Bera’ play a distinct role in Sri Lankan history and culture, and can be heard at any occasion or event throughout the nation. Only a few villages in Kurunegala, Hodiyadeniya in the Kandy district, and Hikkaduwa have artisans with the specific ability and craftsmanship necessary to make these drums.

The drum’s body is generally constructed of Jack tree while the skin is made of animal hide. The attentive and detail-oriented drum builders provide attractively constructed drums with the right sound after many hours of arduous effort.

sri lanka traditional drums by olanka travels


Batik is yet another exquisite tradition in Sri Lanka that brings to life the diverse arts of the island. The creation of Batik has become firmly established in Sri Lankan handicrafts since its inception many years ago. Batik workers incorporate many intriguing motifs and combinations of hues, some traditional, others contemporary and distinct.  The designs offer a glance into the picturesque landscapes, flora, and Kandyan era designs from which most batiks are inspired.

Each stage of the production process of the Sri Lankan Batik is done by hand and is crafted entirely on pure cotton or silk fabric. The material made by batik makers is used to produce chic dresses, shirts, sarongs, and beachwear that are sure to turn heads. 

batik industry in sri lanka

Stone and wood carving/statues

The traditional craft of stone and wood carving has been around in Sri Lanka for centuries and is impossible not to notice when traveling across the island. The exquisite and intricate designs produced by expert craftsmen convey the passion and dedication to the Sri Lankan heritage.

The extensive array of stone and wood carved products sold in Sri Lanka include ornaments and jewellery, figurines, sculptures, statues, lacquer products, vases, boxes, and toys. Carved furniture, household items and ornaments are also popular among locals and foreigners alike. 

sri lanka wood carvings exploring sri lanka tour itinerary


In ancient times, handloom was reserved exclusively for royalty and gentry of higher castes and special villages were designated to practice the craft. However, now handloom fashion can be found anywhere in Sri Lanka with the skill being passed down from generation to generation – conserving and practicing this art form.

Hand-woven fabrics, with their vibrant colours have become a favourite among shoppers. From curtains, cushion covers, and other household decorative items, to saris and garments as well as everyday items such as books and bags can be found among a wide array of other handlooms products in Sri Lanka.

handloom industry in SriLanka


The production of coir rope and related merchandise has been practiced for countless years in Sri Lanka. Traditionally, coir rope is spun entirely by hand before it is woven into intricate designs to make products. This process is 100% natural and biodegradable.

Popular coir products include carpets, mats, brooms, and brushes.

Beeralu Lace 

Beeralu lace making can be considered one of the important aspects of Sri Lankan  heritage. The use of bobbins is what gives it its name. The lace has a charm of its own with its intricate detailing and is a highly coveted material, as it is purely handmade. This process involves a traditional method of weaving.

Lace making is popular in the southern region of the country and is quite fascinating to see how hands dexterously handle the tools to create eye-catching patterns. Stop by lace weavers when travelling down south and perhaps, have a go at it if permitted. 

Clay pottery

One of the oldest lines of craftwork in Sri Lanka, pottery is still popular in this modern day of steel and plastic. Clay lamps can be found at almost all religious shrines in Sri Lanka. Clay pots are popular utensils to cook food. Their rustic look, solid texture, and ability to enhance flavour add to the charm. In addition to pots, terracotta figures, vases, and other utensils are made from clay as well. 

One of the most famous areas for clay pottery is Molagoda. Be spoilt for choice when you shop for pottery or even create your own masterpiece in a traditional clay workshop.

Sri lanka clay pottery in sri lanaka itinerary by olanka travels

Jewellery making

The gem industry in Sri Lanka has been in existence for over 2500 years, and is world-renowned for excavating some of the most magnificent gems in the world. Jewellery has always been a part of the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka. In ancient times, they were considered a mark of royalty and privilege, whereas today, it is available for purchase for any who fancy a piece of perfectly crafted jewellery. 

You can go directly to the source in Rathnapura and around Sigiriya and experience gem mining in its rawest form and purchase some gorgeous pieces of art for yourself. At present, jewellery made in Sri Lanka; either traditional in design or modern, is up to international standards, and is very well reputed and highly coveted worldwide. 

Sri Lanka gem industry in tour itinerary by olanka travels

10 Must – Know tips to make your trip to Sri Lanka a special one

Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, a hike in the hill country, a cultural pilgrimage, or just a luxurious vacation – a Sri Lanka trip would cater to your preferences. Here’s a list of things that you must know before your next trip to Sri Lanka to make it that much more of a unique experience.

Safety First

Sri Lankan borders have been re-opened to most travelers across the globe. Travelers do, however, require a Visa to travel into the country. Currently, there are a few COVID-19 related restrictions in the country, implemented to promote safety and well-being of all. Sri Lanka does not require vaccinated tourists to quarantine upon arrival, nor does it enforce a minimal number of days for their stay. To view a comprehensive list of our COVID-19 travels protocols, click here.

Know the Best Times

Despite being a small island, the weather and climate vary by a considerable margin. The decisive factor would be the monsoon seasons. Travelers visiting the cultural triangle, the southern or western coast would experience the best season from December through April. To those venturing towards the eastern coast, the best time to travel would be between the months of May and October. 

Plan the Tour Upfront

This could be the biggest and most decisive task of your journey, especially if it’s your first Sri Lanka trip. However, this can be a hassle-free experience if you were to hire a professional tour service. A well-planned tour could be the difference between getting to see the best Sri Lanka has to offer and just barely scratching the surface with a few tourist attractions thrown in. It’s best if you can get the help of an experienced tour service provider like us to cater to your requirements.

Buy a Local Sim

When it comes to having a great journey, minimizing your worries is key. Would you rather subject yourself to expensive phone bills and paid Wi-fi networks, or enjoy the low rates and unlimited packages on your data usage with a local sim? Gone are the days of scavenging for public and unsafe Wi-fi networks. Buy a local sim for cheap to enjoy the amazing perks of telecommunication in Sri Lanka.

Take the Unpopular Route

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations, and you can’t experience something unique if you follow the masses. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of going off the beaten path. Professional tour operators like us could help guide you through the lesser-known attractions and local secrets worth your attention! Getting around is quite easy with taxis, tuk-tuks or three-wheelers, and buses. If you’re en-route to Ella on your Sri Lankan trip, then you can’t miss the spectacular train ride!

Dress Conservatively

Tourists are expected to dress conservatively in white and wear less revealing clothing in most cultural sites. Slip-on footwear would be a good option while visiting religious sites as footwear is removed upon entry to the premises. You’ll be fine on your trip to Sri Lanka if you dress for the occasion. You might want to get comfy in cotton clothing and hats, or carry an umbrella, as temperatures usually exceed 25 Celsius, except in the central highlands where you might need a light sweater. Always be prepared for light showers.

Avoid Scams

Sri Lanka is a safe travel destination for tourists; however, situational awareness can’t hurt. There are isolated cases of tuk-tuk scams, unofficial guides, and snatch thefts. The use of a professional tour service provider ensures less interaction with third parties and will keep you away from such scams. However, no matter where you go on your Sri Lanka trip, you’ll be safe if you’re aware and mindful.

Always Carry Cash

Having liquid cash in hand is always a good idea; whether for emergencies or because you want to pick up something from the roadside store. You could exchange your foreign currency once in town in a bank or even right at the airport.

Dollars, Euros, and Sterling are equally accepted, but not everywhere. Carry cards that are internationally accepted (Mastercard or Visa); however, credit card payments cannot be made in foreign currency, and not all goods and service providers accept card payments.

Try Local Food

You can’t have a unique experience on your Sri Lanka trip without tasting the local cuisine! Local food is quite affordable and delicious.

Enjoy a range of dishes and curries that are sweet, sour, or even spicy, and pair it with a plate of rice. In Sri Lanka, there’s a curry for almost everyone. Try out freshly grown local fruits, Faludi, local sweets, and street food for some change and make sure you always carry water for consumption.

Tag Alongside the Locals

Sri Lanka is known for its generous locals. The locals communicate in the Sinhala and Tamil languages, but most of them do speak adequate English. All of them share a common shy smile. Westerners may immediately notice that there’s a lot of head nodding involved in communication. Sri Lankans are also known for their warm hospitality. So don’t hesitate to connect with them to gain insight about life in these parts of the world.

And that’s the list of basics that you must know before your upcoming Sri Lanka Trips.

A Holiday To Sri Lanka is one that anyone would enjoy with just a little preparation. Now that you have all you need to know, why not consider us for planning your next trip to Sri Lanka?