The scenic and serene village of Kitulgala is situated west of Sri Lanka, 95 km from Colombo on the Colombo-Avissawella- Hatton Road in the Sabaragamuwa Province. From Colombo, Kitulgala can be reached via the Colombo-Avissawela- Ruwanwella route. Kitulgala is where the famous film “The Bridge over the River Kwai” the World War II epic film directed by David Lean was filmed.
Being situated in the wet zone Kitulgala receives rainfall from two monsoons every year, giving the region its lush green vegetation, verdant mountains and the impressive Kelani River’s cascading waters.
The Kitulgala Forest Reserve (Makandawa Forest Reserve) covering 1,155 ha was established with the objective of protecting the catchment of the Kelani River. It is a secondary lowland rainforest gradually moving towards higher elevations and is accessible by crossing the Kelani River by boat (usually a traditional dugout canoe with an outrigger) and it is sometimes possible to wade across during the dry seasons. The forest reserve with its rain forest habitat, similar to the Sinharaja Rain Forest is home to many endemic species of fauna and flora, in addition to scenic waterfalls; such as the Makulu Ella and Lenakiri Ella.
The bird species found here include 54 rare species; this includes the Green billed coucal, the Chestnut-backed owlet, Yellow-fronted barbet, Ceylon jungle & spur fowl, Layard’s parakeet, Ceylon lorikeet, Ceylon rufous babbler, Red faced malkoha, Ceylon blue magpie, Sri Lanka spot-winged thrush, Grey hornbill, Common hill mynah in addition to the newly discovered Serendip Scops Owl and many migrant waders who visit the forest reserve during the migration season. The mammals commonly seen here are the Grizzled-tailed giant squirrel and the rarely seen Red slender loris.