Kitulgala forest reserve is the ideal rainforest habitat to spot most of the lowland endemic species of birds including the Green-bill Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Red-faced Mal koha, Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush, Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Ceylon Jungle fowl and Yellow-fronted Barbet. The newly discovered Serendib Scoops Owl was also first heard in this forest. Mammal species found here include the Grizzled Indian Squirrel, Layard’s Striped Squirrel and the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. The streams hold endemic fish and many species of amphibians. The Earless Lizard, Kangaroo Lizard and the Hump-nosed Lizard are among the reptile species and are frequently seen in the foliage along the Kelani River. Insect repellent and anti-leech socks are useful when you are entering the forest.
Kitulgala is located about 80 kilometres from Colombo on the A7 main road that runs to Nuwara Eliya via Avissawella. Kitulgala is a pleasant town set amidst green hills thick with tropical vegetation. The name Kitulgala itself is derived from the Kitul palm tree, groves of which are abound in the expanses. Kitul sap is concentrated and then crystallized to produce jaggery. Kitul sap is also fermented to make palm wine.A rain forestry area, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month. The Academy Award-winning movie The Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed on the Kelani River near Kitulgala, although nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge Kitulgala is the base for white-water rafting in Sri Lanka.
Large numbers of people make the excursion from Colombo at weekends to enjoy the beautiful scenery, play in the river, Jungle Walks, Adventurous water fall jumps/ slides, White Water Rafting 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 and play. Many birders stay at Kitulgala. This area has most of the rainforest 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. So Kitulgala is a primary spot for bird watching enthusiasts.You can see variety of birds such as Black Eagle, Rufous-Bellied Eagle, Ceylon Spur Fowl, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Ceylon Green-Pigeon, Ceylon Hanging-Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Green-Billed Coucal, Serendib Scops-Owl, Chestnut-Backed Owlet, Brown Hawk-Owl, Ceylon Frog Mouth, Black-Backed Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceylon Swallow, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Yellow-Fronted Barbet, Black-Capped Bulbul, Gold-Fronted Leaf Bird, Spot-Winged Ground-Thrush, Legge’s Flowerpecker, Brown-Capped Babbler, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Ceylon Hill-Myna, Ceylon Crested Drongo in Kithulgala.