5. Nature at its exquisiteness – Maaduganga river and boating
After a much needed relaxing and rejuvenating day spent in Sri Lanka, the itenery was organized with something very special for me the very next morning.
While visiting some Buddhist temples and captivating photographs, I was taken for an unexpected long boat ride through Maadu Ganga river!
The river safari was a visual spectacle! We passed by local villages, shops and even little shrimp and fish farms. It was a real feast to the eyes!
This beautiful river is situated between Colombo and Galle. The magnificence river is called Madu Ganga in Balapitiya which is the second largest wetland consisting of 28 islands. A unique way to experience the pristine beauty of nature is on a river safari. Travelers can easily find boats near the river who arrange either a 2-hour safari ride (including a stopover at the historic Kothduwa temple), or a longer cruise depending on your preference. Rates will vary according to the length of the safari and the number of people, but the fare for a typical 2.5-hour safari is roughly around LKR 2000 per person.
During the boating experience, I saw Kothduwa temple a reputed to have been home to the sacred relic of the tooth of the Buddha and is still home to a sacred fig tree, planted from a shoot of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest living tree in the world with a known planting date.
I was taken through the mangroves, spotting lots of local wildlife (the water lizards and an eventually making a stop at a local cinnamon farm). The inhabitants of the rivers here are well-known for their cinnamon plantations.
So I got off at one of the farms, where I encountered with a farmer. He showed me how he got the cinnamon and along with that he demonstrated how he weaves the roofs for his farm huts and ropes using coconut fronds. After the demonstration, he brought his products to sell which included cinnamon barks, cinnamon powder and cinnamon oil each packet costing approx Rs.300. The main occupation of the residents living around Madu Ganga is fishing, prawn farming and cinnamon cultivation.
On my way back to the boat I stopped for a splendid fish spa in the heart of the river. It was such an exciting and electrifying experience for the first time in my life and to get a fish pedicure done at the nearby farm! The fish that did the foot spa are huge compared to the tiny Garra Ruffa which are commonly used. The best part was when the owner of the spa brought his pet baby crocodile out and forced me to hold it for a while. That was the first time I’d ever held one.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the ride is the picturesque scenery of villages by the river bank. Village houses by the edge of the water, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation are indeed a charming sight to behold.
By afternoon, I was taken to the boat which had a seafood restaurant for some lip-smacking yummy and delicious food.
The boat ride lasted close to two hours and I was taken to see the river which meets the sea before detouring back to the pier.