Outdoor Adventure

Explore and truly experience the great outdoors and adventure sport

Sri Lanka is blessed with its natural beauty and landscapes. This has given rise to people wanting to explore and truly experience the great outdoors and adventure sport is slowly catching on in Sri Lanka.

One of the best places for outdoor exploration is Kitulgala, which is a natural haven for nature lovers and adventure junkies alike. The fast flowing rapids of the Kelani River is ideal for the adrenaline inducing sport of White Water Rafting. This area is also great for even more daring sports such as canyoning, and abseiling down a waterfall. There are many trails and forest paths which are great for hiking and cycling.

For those who like to use sheer muscle power and cycle across the country, there are many routes one can take on a cycling trail, from open roads, to mountain passes and the back roads through remote villages. The hill country has many routes which are ideal for long treks. With great forests, and stunning landscapes, the routes one selects can vary based on fitness levels, and time required.

If water is ones forte, then Sri Lanka is perfect, and being an island, the options for ocean based adventures are endless. Surfing is very popular in the country especially in Arugam Bay on the south-east corner of the island, which attracts pro and part time surfers from all over the world. Kalpitiya on the North-west is a world recognized spot for Kitesurfing with licensed trainers and instructors. Besides these, Bentota is one of the best places for watersports such as jet-ski, wake boarding, boogie boarding and boat rides. The oceans are also great places to try ones hand in deep sea fishing where a variety of different species including Groupers, Snappers, Bonefish, Barracuda, Jackfish, Trevally Tuna, Indian Mackerel, Sailfish and Marlin can be found.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are possible to explore the deep blue up close, with some amazing dive sites surrounding coral reefs and wrecks which showcase the true beauty of the oceans off Sri Lanka. The great outdoors are waiting for anyone willing to take the plunge and savor all the natural bounties that mother nature has to offer.


The home of adventure sport

Sri Lanka's natural beauty holds the perfect setting for those who love the outdoors and adventure. Kitulgala is a small village which borders the Kelani river and is surrounded by tropical lowland rainforest. It was the location where the Hollywood classic ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai' was filmed in 1957 of which only the concrete foundations of the bridge remain. Along with Sinharaja, this area harbours one of the last remaining tracts of lowland rainforest in Sri Lanka and provides a refuge for a wealth of biodiversity and is bountiful in its endemic birdlife. Taking a dug out canoe across the Kelani River, one comes to the entrance of the Makandawa Forest Reserve. There are several walking trails in the deep dark forest, which are home to some of the rarest and elusive species of birds, amphibians, and reptiles. A walk through the village bordering the forest will give you a better chance to see these rare birds such as the Green Billed Coucal, Orange Billed Babbler, and the colorful Three Toed Kingfisher out in the open. There are numerous waterfalls and hidden swimming holes within these forests, which can be visited by foot or on bike.

Today, Kitulgala is referred to as the rafting capital of Sri Lanka, where the rapids along the fast flowing Kelani river provides ideal conditions for this high octane adventure sport. There is no better adrenaline rush that traversing raging rapids on a river with stunning rainforests and hills for company and nothing but you and your mates paddling in unison to overcome these hurdles. The Kelani River runs through this region, and the stretch running through Kitulgala has grade 2-3 rapids. This stretch has 5 major rapids and 4 minor rapids and is an activity suitable for the more physically fit individuals and for children above 10 years of age. The activity entails all safety procedures from life jackets, modern rafts, safety instructions before the tour along with a certified instructor at all times along with a support crew. The distance covered during this adventure is roughly 5 kilometers.

Another interesting high adventure sport along the Kelani River is white water kayaking. Restricted to experienced kayakers, the lower Kelani offers seven Class II and III rapids, each with its own distinct technical challenges in a stretch that is approximately 6 kilometers. For a more exhilarating experience, experienced kayakers can run on some of Sri Lanka's more remote, and if lucky, first descent rivers. The stretch along the upper Kelani offers world-class Grade IV Rapids. For extreme kayakers with a thirst for Class IV rapids, the upper Sitawaka is a gem a gold mine for extreme kayakers whilst the Lower Sitawaka has Class III and IV rapids which are still guaranteed to get the adrenaline rushing. Some of the other rivers for a unique white water kayaking experience include the Goorok Oya and Belihul Oya, which offer sublime white water kayaking in spectacular countryside surrounded by steep mountains, clad in thick jungle, tea and rubber plantations.

Canyoning is another extreme sport in Kithulgala for the adrenaline seeking adventurer. It involves abseiling, sliding, jumping, climbing and swimming in some of the most unimaginable natural aquatic environments. The instructors offer the most extensive knowledge, expertise, safety and variety of small to medium sized canyons and it is an activity suitable for families with older children.

Kithulgala is an ideal mid-way point when traveling between Colombo to the central highlands and provides a beautiful jungle setting for a number of interesting adventure based activities form hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, canyoning and white water kayaking.

Surfer’s Paradise

The most popular 'Surf Point' which breaks at the headland is in front of Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka is a surfer's paradise offering golden sandy beaches, warm water and some great waves attracting beginners to skilled surfers alike from around the world. Arugam Bay, which is tucked away in the south-east corner of the island and surrounded by jungle is rated as one of the top ten surf spots in the world. The most popular 'Surf Point' which breaks at the headland is in front of Arugam Bay is mainly suitable for body surfing and for beginners while the Pottuvil Point situated on a deserted beach area North of Arugam Bay is better suited for the seasoned surfers. Crocodile Rock is another challenging surf point, where the waves of up to 5-6 feet and a 400 metre 'ride' in a secluded beach, which makes this a “mecca" to surfers. Surf boards can easily be rented from the town and basic surfing lessons for beginners can be organized. Seasoned surfers, who know these waves very well, come back each year to experience the thrilling waves and the relatively secluded beaches. Arugam Bay is best visited during the months of May through to September for surfing.

There are also a number of good surf spots along the west and south coast where the season runs from November through to April, providing a 10 month window for surfing in the island. Hikkaduwa is the most popular surfer town in this region, which is popularly dubbed as “Hikka". The best surf spot is Wewala and the area is known as Narigama is provides ideal conditions for body surfing. There are also a number of excellent surfing beaches along the southern stretch in protected bays such as Kabalana, Midigama, Weligama, Mirissa and Matara. Given, the close proximity to Colombo, these towns are very popular for beach goers and surfers alike and there are a number of guest houses, beach villas, boutique hotels and star class resorts all through this stretch of golden beaches. There are a number of surf ships, where gear as well as clothing can be sourced.


The Kitesurfing capital

Kitesurfing is a surface water sport that combines aspects from wake boarding, wind surfing, surfing, paragliding, skate boarding and gymnastics is a very popular extreme sport and adventure activity. The kitesurfer harnesses wind power with a large power kite which propels across the water on a kiteboard which is similar to a small surfboard. Kitesurfing has become increasingly popular off Kalpitiya in the north-west of Sri Lanka where seasonally there are ideal wind speeds which average around 18-20 knots.

There are over a dozen spots in this area with flatwater, waves and lagoons to choose from. The main window for kite surfing is during the period of the south-west monsoon from May through to October which provides the best wind speeds. During the winter months, the wind speeds are at its optimal in the afternoons. Kalpitiya is a peninsula which as the Indian ocean to the west, which is ideal for free-ride and wave riding while the vast expanses of the Kalpitiya lagoon to the east is more suited to beginners and freestylers. The Puttalam lagoon is great for downwind trips in the flatwater. There are professional certified operators who accommodate this sport for beginners and experts alike. All IKO certified the instructors have years of experience and a fierce passion for the outdoors.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

One of the best ways to explore the contrasting and picturesque landscapes across Sri Lanka is to cycle. With the wind running through your hair and traveling at a leisurely pace, traveling by bike will give you a different travel perspective as you get to interact with the warm and hospitable locals and experience everyday life in Sri Lanka. One of the highlights when cycling through the island would be traveling through the central highlands, which provides a respite form thee tropical heat while you travel through tea estates, patches of cloud forests and pass through numerous waterfalls and scenic vantage points. In the lowlands, there are a number of off the beaten track routes which avoid busy towns and takes you through the villages passing through paddyfields and numerous man-made lakes and streams. Cycling expeditions across the country can be done at a customized pace and can be combined with guided nature walks, jeep safaris to view the country’s wildlife and excursions to the main cultural sites.

A tour will include a professional team with expert instructors who will be with you all the way. Support services along with a medic team will be close by at all times, and there is nothing better than to have a relaxing stay at a luxurious resort after a hard days ride. All equipment from bikes and gear can be supplied from within Sri Lanka.

There are also a number of shorter cycling trails when based in the highlands or the cultural triangle, which are very popular for travelers especially for families with older children. Some of the most popular rides include exploring the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa and cycling through the network of ancient canals in Negombo.

Hiking and Trekking

The central highlands are the best area for hiking and trekking with many routes and peaks to explore.

Sri Lanka is a land of natural beauty and stunning landscapes. There is no better way to truly relish this than by immersing oneself in the outdoors and traversing the forest and mountain paths to reach some of the most amazing summits there is. The central highlands are the best area for hiking and trekking with many routes and peaks to explore. This experience will be carried out along with a seasoned instructor along with a medic team and a support crew who ensure safety which is of paramount importance. An off-season climb can also be extremely rewarding since you will completely be away from any civilization or human contact until you reach the peak. Select a dry month, July or August, since the trail can be extremely hazardous to pass during monsoon months. The Peak Wilderness and the Knuckles ranges offer some of the best terrains and most picturesque views for guided nature walks and trekking.

Adams Peak – The Sacred Mountain

One of the most stunning and most popular trails in climbing Adams Peak. This is especially challenging during the off season when the winds are cold and rain is inevitable. This hike travails though the lush and pristine Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, which is one of the most ecologically important sites in the country with a high level of endemic species from plants, to birds to reptiles and amphibians. The high altitude will result in some fatigue as the air is thinner higher up. The trail will entail rest stops every 1.5km and refreshments and the climb to the summit takes approximately 4 ½ hours. The trail will also include a visit to some amazing waterfalls deep in the forest. The view from the top of the peak is sure to take ones breath away. A historical and religiously significant point this sacred mountain is visited by thousands of pilgrims and foreign visitors alike, especially during the peak season. The off season is often from June to November. There are many routes one can take with the Ratnapura route being the most remote and strenuous climb. The hike will be roughly 7km up with over 5500 steps.

Kirigalpotta Mountain Trail

Kirigalpoththa is the 2nd highest Mountain of Sri Lanka after Pidurutalagala with a peak elevation of 2,388 meters above sea level. Kirigalpoththa is the highest point in the Horton Plains National Park and also the highest peak accessible to the public. This 7 kilometer trail will take around 5 1/2 hours of trekking each way. Attempting Kirigalpoththa is for the daring adventurers only as the conditions can be treacherous due to the difficulty of the terrain and weather. A slightly over grown path snakes, through grassy plains, cloud forest, peat bogs and steep rock surfaces.

Riverston Excursion

Riverston is located approximately 30 kilometers interior from the town of Matale by traveling through windy roads with quite a few hairpins turns, but at the summit during good weather conditions will offer a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, an area which is remote and seldom traversed by the mainstream tourists. Climatic conditions here are very similar to the highland forests of Horton Plains. The region also boats of two great waterfalls "Sera Ella" and "Bambarakiri Ella". A visit to an area known as the Pitawala Pathana offers a unique vantage point over the sheer cliff known as the Mini Worlds End. This area a biodiversity hotspot with many plants and small animals unique to this area alone.

Water Sports along the Bentota River

Sheltered by a lagoon, the calm waters in the mouth of the Bentota River make it an ideal year-round destination for water sports. Windsurfing is an exhilarating sport where beginners and experts alike can be trained under licensed VDMS instructors to master the art. Water skiing is another adrenaline inducing sport which can be enjoyed in this area, with certified instructors available at all times to ensure safety. One of the most popular activities is Jet skiing, which is similar to riding a motor bike but ones in-fact in the water. High tech equipment will ensure safety and a thrilling ride. For families with children, banana boat rides are very popular. Scenic boat rides allow you to explore the rich mangrove habitats which are abundant in birdlife. Angling enthusiasts have the option of chartering a boat and heading out to sea, where game fish such as Marlin, Baracuda and Tuna are abundant.

Hot Air Ballooning

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the land in rural Sri Lanka is from the air, and what better way to do this than hover above ground in a hot air balloon. It is the ultimate way to witness a stunning sunrise with an unforgettable backdrop. Float gently with the breeze 1,000 - 2,000 feet above taking off from Kandalama in the heart of the cultural triangle as you enjoy the experience of flight in its oldest form. The peace and gentleness of the flight will surprise anyone as the pilot guides the balloon using the different wind currents at different altitudes. See the daybreak beneath you as it comes alive. The spectacular sunrise across the Kandalama tank as it paints the landscape with wonderful colours. The Golden Buddha sitting majestically on one end and the Rock Fortress at Sigiriya in the distance on the other end. Friendly villagers of all ages will be calling out “Good Morning" and waving happily to the passengers as one flies over their homes, where you will truly will feel like the “master of the wind".

The Mahaweli River Expedition

Traverse through the picturesque surroundings of the mighty Mahaweli,

The Mahaweli River expedition is a 3 night and 4 day paddling excursion as you traverse through the picturesque surroundings of the mighty Mahaweli, the longest river in Sri Lanka. The expedition is carried out by kayaks and canoes and covers a distance of approximately 50 kilometres. One of the key highlights of the journey is paddling through the untamed wilds of Wasgamuwa national park in the north-central province. The park is home to large herds of wild elephants and a rich and diverse array of birdlife. It’s quite likely that one will spot some mugger crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the river on certain stretches, thus the expedition is not for the faint hearted.

The expedition is hosted by a team of vastly experienced river guides. This is generally a flat water expedition however entails a few Class I and II rapids which need to be navigated which will add to the excitement of the adventure. No prior experience is required for the expedition, but participants need to have a reasonable level of fitness and be willing to pitch in with camp set up, as well as cooking and cleaning and packing up camp each morning. This trip will offer participants a chance to learn many new skills, such as how to read the river, handling gentle whitewater paddling, as well as wilderness camping and safety.

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