Madu River – a minor watercourse in south-west of Sri Lanka, widens into the Madu Ganga Lake at Balapitiya and flows for a further a 4.4 km before draining into the Indian Ocean. Together with the smaller Randombe Lake, to which the river is connected by two narrow channels, it forms the Madu Ganga wetland dotted with mangrove islets
We left Colombo at six in the morning, drove to Kalutara, had breakfast at a riverside cafe, hired a boat from Captain’s Boat House and sailed up Madu River.
The boat with an outboard motor, good seats and a canopy, sped past mangroves that lined the river. There were ropes stretched across the river just under water to force boats to reduce speed. At places, the boats go through ‘tunnels’ in the 61 hectares of mangroves. 14 of the 24 species of mangrove plants of Sri Lanka are found along Madu River.
The river has about 25 islands of various sizes. Some of them have cinnamon plantations where preparation of cinnamon is demonstrated and cinnamon ‘tea’ is offered to visitors. Cinnamon products such as dried bark, cinnamon tea and cinnamon oil are on sale.
111 species of birds have been identified in the mangrove forests along the river. Kingfishers in eluding the Stork Billed and Little Cormorants are often spotted. (Sri Lanka has Little, Great and Indian Cormorants. All are residents.)
Kothduwa Temple on Kothduwa Island is believed to have once sheltered the Tooth Relic of the Buddha in 340 AD. The Bo Tree on the island was planted from a bud of the 2500 year old sacred tree in Anuradhapura.
The river trip was followed by a delicious Sri Lankan lunch at the Captain’s Boat House.
- See also Made River Safari
- All photographs are by Dr. Bernard Dias
The Madu River tour was arranged and led by Padmini Hussein of Flamingo Tours.