Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka
Srilanka,  Travel

Rafters Retreat in Kitulgala, Srilanka | Getting Started

Rafter’s Retreat – Kitulgala, Srilanka… it takes us dangerously close to the water. The surrounding greens, the multiple shades of green reflected on the Kelani river, the empty bench beckoning me – this was predestined to be the first post of IshitaUnblogged!

Many scenes in the ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ were shot in Srilanka. Most of them were at Kitulgala including the last scene where the bridge explodes. 

Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

Welcome to IshitaUnblogged!

A culinary travel blog featuring Dubai, Kolkata & the World beyond.

More than a decade back we – my husband and I, set up our first home in Srilanka. Albums stacked with those good-old memories fill up our book shelves even today. It was time that we showed our two little girls, the Z-Sisters, the country which had become our second home. Re-visiting Srilanka was more than just a vacation. It was as if, we were searching for our own roots. A decade back we had stood by the banks of the Kelani river, letting our eyes wander into the woods. Now a decade later, the four of us were standing at the same spot. As if one circle of life just got completed.

The empty bench seemed symbolic. With the beginning of the second circle (with the four of us now) I had to unblog them all!

Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

Getting Started

A mosaic of pictures – some in colour, others in sepia, some lucky to have been printed on paper, others still crammed in the hard disc… and the rest? May the BLOG SAVE THEM! The images float around in light dreamy bubbles for a long, long time. I step outside in the open, catching the bubbles and penning them down as thoughts and capturing them as images before they delicately burst out on my palms.

Our bags are packed. My camera is charged. The Z-Sisters are getting impatient. Big Z’s own trolley bag is bursting at the zips. Li’l Z is jumping non-stop. S is fretting – we are all set to leave for our vacation. The hotel bookings are in our names but feel free to jump onto our blog bandwagon. And secretly hoping that we can do the same. This is really a good deal, trust me. A deluge of travel escapades for you and me, all for free!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

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Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

Rafter’s Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

eco-lodging; by the river; in the forest

The Stay
Kitulgala is 90 kms away from Colombo. Officially, it should take a bit more than 2 hrs drive. But it might take much longer as Srilankans are very polite drivers and wouldn’t even overtake a pedestrian. It is also 2 hrs drive from the airport or from Kandy, another well-known hill retreat of Srilanka. Staying at Rafter’s Retreat is an experience. Nestled amidst lush green, tropical foliage the lodge is perched at the edge of the Kelani river. The swimming pool too, looks like an extension of the river and simply merges into the background scenery.

It starting off as an experiment by the owner Channa who built 10 wooden lodges all by himself on his family estate. These are tree-houses and follow all the principles of eco-lodging. Long wooden balconies overlook the Kelani river through the lush green foliage. Wooden ladders serve as stairs. White mosquito nets swirling over the beds are not only to make the rooms look romantic but to actually keep the mosquitoes at bay! Modern toilets are available though you may opt for the ‘experimental versions’ where the bathroom is down a ladder into a ‘dungy’.

Nature lovers, particularly ornithologists and adventurous tourists would find this place as an ultimate heaven. River rafting, Mountain biking, trekking and hiking are just a few of the things that one can do here. Channa himself welcomes the visitor into his Rafters Retreat as he plans the adventure programs that are exclusively designed for his guests. Even the faint-hearted like us found this to be the ultimate paradise on earth. Not from the adventurous point of view. But from the visual and sensory point of view. Seeing others on an adrenaline overdrive did boost up our levels of adrenaline as well. The best time to stay in this lush green hide-out is during April to November. 

Rafter's Retreat, Kitulgala, Srilanka

The Food
Breakfast and lunch menus are fixed – Western or Srilankan breakfast. Everything served is organic. Simple rice and curry (spicy to mild in order to cater to all taste-buds) are served for lunch and uses locally produced organic vegetables. Meat or fish is bought from Colombo markets. Freshly cut Pineapples and bunch of fresh Bananas along with cold Green Coconut water served with a straw – a far cry from the buffet spreads of city hotels. But nevertheless very tempting… and rejuvenating.

The Sign Off
Apart from the amazing views from the long running balconies and the fact that we were dangerously close to the water and equally close to nature, we will also never forget the pain in our backs from sitting on hard wooden chairs made from the local wood. Also the chance to ‘officially’ smack the bottoms of the Z-Sisters every now and then on the pretext that their soreness would be gone with our MAGIC SMACKS!

I thought this line from official website was really funny and brutally honest – ‘The water is directly from natural springs but sadly, so is the temperature.’ Well, a point that proves that some hotel websites don’t exaggerate!

Enjoy the images. We have never been to a place greener and calmer than this. And what an amazing and a memorable experience we had!


The long balcony of the Rafters' Retreat serving as the restaurant

Wooden sculptures, wooden walls adding to the rustic charm

Taking a bath at Kelani river

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. We paid for all our meals at Rafter’s Retreat. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.

Here are a few of my articles on our Srilankan sojourn:
Heritance Tea Factory Hotel, Nuwara Eliya
Red tuk-tuks and triumphant rides – Colombo 
Living by the water with sunset as prop – Colombo and the Indian Ocean



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