Madu River Safari

Three Months In Sri Lanka – Week 9, Part 3, Friday

Black-headed Oriole

Black-headed Oriole

Together with Randombe Lake to which it is connected by two narrow channels, Madu River forms a 915 ha shallow wetland with emerald green water in South-Western Sri Lanka. It is little known and seldom visited despite being the second largest wetland in the country with immense ecological and biological significance and was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in terms of the Ramsar Convention in 2003. The wetland is home to 303 plant species and and 248 species of vertebrates. Some of the sixty odd mangrove islets are inhabited by over 200 families whose main occupation is prawn fishing and cinnamon cultivation.

Here’s a pictorial record of my visit to Madu River Wetland on Friday 7 March 2014 from Kadolana Eco Village.


Kadolana – Casting off at 7.30 am


Prawn fishermen at their nets


Family transport!


A lone fisherman


Kothduwa Buddhist temple on an isolated island


The smallest island (Five Cent Island) with its 800 year old disused Hindu temple

Cinnamon growers lonely house on one of the islands. He sells prepared cinnamon sticks (Rs. 300) and cinnamon oil he distills from the leaves to visitors

Peeling and preparing cinnamon bark for drying

Peeling and preparing cinnamon bark which is air dried for five days

A riverside kiosk

A riverside kiosk selling snacks and king coconuts to passing boats

Stork-billed kingfisher in the mangroves and below, a water mojito and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters

Stork-billed kingfisher in the mangroves and below, water monitor and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. There are 8 species of kingfisher (Stork-billed is the largest) and 3 of Bee-eaters in Sri Lanka




My safari was arranged by Kadolana Eco Village. The fibreglass boat with outboard motor has no roof but is comfortable and life jackets are provided. The best time is early morning (I started at 7.30 am). Take hats, suncream, snacks and water. The two hour safari costs Rs. 3000.

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