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.
White-water rafting options range from a one-hour ride along the Kelani River at Kitulgala, an ideal spot for beginners, to the ‘experienced paddlers only’ routes down the rivers of Kotmale, Mahaweli and Kalu Ganga. Between the exhilarating patches of grade 3 and 4 rapids, enjoy calm sections where you float serenely down the river and take in the spectacular scenery of tea and rubber plantations and mountains covered in patches of rainforest – one moment you can hear nothing but the pounding water and the instructions of your guide, and the next only the soft fluttering of birdcall breaks the silence. Rafting mixes the ups and downs of rapids with calm sections perfect for looking at the tea and rubber plantations or mountains covered in jungle rainforest. In one section all you can hear is the pounding water rushing through the rapids and the cry of the guide’s instructions. In the next only the chirping birds break the silence.
Kalu Ganga: A two-day trip featuring grade 4 and 5 rapids – only recommended for those with experience. The river spills out of the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve and tumbles its way down a 20km gorge. Begin with a day paddling through thick jungle, and spend the next day tackling the dips and drops of the rapids.
Kelani River: White-water rafting for beginners. Enjoy a one-hour rafting adventure with some challenging rapids – although children as young as six can conquer them with the help of their family – and moments of peace where you can drift along and enjoy the enchanting scenery.
Kotmale River: A six hour journey which takes you into Colombo along steep grade 5 rapids. Previous experience is essential.
Mahaweli River: Sri Lanka’s largest river offers a variety of white-water rafting opportunities, from easy grade 2 sections to hair-raising grade 6 drops. This trip is for experienced paddlers only.
Sitawaka River: Located in the neighbouring valley to Kitulgala, the Sitawaka offers rapid grades of four and five, although the middle section calm and you can float along without experiencing the rapids. The lower end of the river has grade three and four rapids. Only 90 minutes from Colombo, this trip is a great day out for those wanting to do adventure activities in Sri Lanka.