Saturday, 31 May 2003  
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Kitulgala holiday packages : Rafting down the river

by Tharika Goonathilake

Adventure, comfort and affordability is the concept behind the new 'Kitulgala holiday packages' offered by the Ceylon Hotels Corporation (CHC)- Sri Lanka's pioneering holiday resorts hotel chain.

ust three hours drive away from Colombo, the Kitulgala Rest House, overlooking the picturesque waters of the Kelani river forms the base for this holiday experience, which offers plenty of thrills and spills for the water sports enthusiasts.

The film locality for David Lean's seven Academy Awards winning film, 'Bridge on the River Kwai' in the mid nineteen fifties, Kitulgala's, scenic upriver location, is now basking in its full glory with the revival of watersports especially white water rafting in Sri Lanka.

According to CHC Marketing Manager Ranjith Balasuriya, Kitulgala is an ideal holiday haunt for both the young, and the 'young at heart,' given the area's ideal conditions for rafting or for a relaxing holiday away from the grind of everyday work. The Kitugala Rest House one of the most popular holiday spots of the CHC chain, is a 20 room property with comfortable rooms, a restaurant, bar and other amenities including a large parking area.

On offer is a Rs. 2,662 half board holiday package for two. For those looking for white water rafting opportunities, the CHC, has a three hour river ride tour at Rs 1500 per person-for groups of two to four.

A special rate of Rs. 1,200 is given for five people or above and a discount rate of Rs. 1,200 per person for larger groups.

Meals are not included in the river tour, but the Rest House has a reasonably priced buffet at Rs 360 per person.

"The Kitulgala area is also not just for the adventurous, since its strategic location (which forms the meeting point for three rivers) has resulted in a 'warm water base,' in the Liyan Oya area with therapeutic benefits for many an ill," Balasuriya says.

That's not all, the Belilena Caves, with 32,000 year old fossils is another place of interest in the area.

For history buffs who are interested in the prehistoric periods, there's a guided tour on offer.

More information can be obtained from CHC Head Office, Colombo on 503497, 504959 or through direct bookings to Rest House Manager Saman Alwis on 036-87528.


Habarana Village : The birding paradise

by Florence Wickramage

A unique experience in watching a whole host of bird species in one location is afforded to the bird-lover at the Habarana Village/Lodge situated approximately 172 kms. from Colombo. The whole complex is exquisitely laid out amongst a superb collection of tropical trees and shrubs with varying habitats such as dry-zone forest, swamps, reservoir/tank, farmland and home gardens.

A wide variety of avi-fauna have found these habitats with lush vegetations conducive for their existence and a leisurely ramble along the bird-trail mapped out by the Habarana Village/Complex could be an exhilarating and rewarding experience to a nature lover.

In this haven of tranquillity an amazing array of 133 bird species belonging to 12 orders and 42 families have been seen and recorded in the garden complex.

A leisurely stroll early in the morning or on an evening along the bird-trail would offer a birder the satisfaction of observing over 60 species and if lucky could spot out two of the globally threatened species - the Great Cormorant and the Spot-billed Pelican. The recommended times to commence the two and half to three hour bird-trail are 6.30 in the morning and 4.30 in the evening.

A Bird Checklist is available at the reception. If you sip your coffee out in the restaurant you could observe the mornings regular visitors to the place - the Red-vented Bulbuls, Yellow-billed Babblers, Magpie Robins and Indian Robins.

A very frequent visitor to the restaurant is the three striped Palm Squirrel. The melodious whistling call you hear in the morning is from the beautiful Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

There will be other visitors greeting you on the bird-trail which include animals like the Grey Langur, the endemic Toque monkey, Giant Squirrels, Mongoose, Water Monitors, Land Monitors, Grass Hoppers, Carpenter Bees and a variety of Butterflies and other insects. An added learning experience would be to observe also the identified and labelled trees and shrubs on the trail.

So here's to ... Happy Birding and a Wonderful Experience!

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