Madu Ganga Boat Trip
The Madu Ganga (Madu River) is a shallow 915-hectare lake system and the second largest wetland in Sri Lanka. It is home to 64 islands and is connected to the sea by a brackish estuary. This water body is fringed by mangrove forests that are crucial to the ecosystem, as they help reduce the impacts of climate change by stabilising the coastline and slowing down the movement of water. Mangroves also help reduce global warming because their rich, waterlogged soil can absorb and store a great deal of carbon. The Madu Ganga is also abundantly rich in biodiversity and is home to over 300 plant species and 200 vertebrate animals. This includes 110 species of aquatic birds such as eagles, cormorants, kingfishers and herons, which makes it a special experience for bird lovers. On a typical boat ride, you are likely to see monkeys, water monitors, giant squirrels, many of the birds mentioned above, and, although rare, maybe even a crocodile. If it’s later in the evening, you can also watch the fishermen in their canoes lighting lanterns on traps that catch prawn and other shellfish. Most of the villagers living in the vicinity of the lake and the islands make their living from fishing and farming, and, to a lesser extent, working in cottage industries such as the production of oil and cinnamon quills.
The entrance to the wetlands is just a 10-minute drive from the hotel. You’ll board your private motorboat (accommodates up to 6 guests) from a jetty and cruise the short journey up the estuary to reach the wetlands. The boat has a shade that can be quickly put up if required (once you’ve passed the low bridges). The boatman will point out any wildlife, and take you to a series of destinations on the lake – these include dark and shady mangrove ‘tunnels’, which the boat drives through; an island where you can learn about the production of cinnamon; and to the Koth-Duwa Maha Raja Temple, a well-kept Buddhist temple with an old Bo tree, which is once thought to have sheltered the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. There are also a couple of fish spas on the banks of the wetlands which you can stop at if you wish. The boat trip takes around two hours and is a relaxing and enjoyable experience for adults, children and wildlife enthusiasts. The boat ride is best done first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon, when it is cooler, and you are more likely to see wildlife. Price includes transport to the jetty and life jackets. If you wish, we can pack a picnic and some cold beers (or wine) to enjoy on the rocky banks of one of the islands – please let us know in advance so we can let the boatman know.