Mangroves of Madu Ganga Sanctuary (මාදු ගඟ කඩොල් කැලේ)

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Mangroves of Madu Ganga Sanctuary
Mangroves of Madu Ganga Sanctuary

Between Colombo and Galle there exists a beautiful river called Madu Ganga in Balapitiya which offers a glimpse of how it has become a part of the life of the people in the area. At the outset, Madu Ganga is considered as Sri Lanka’s second largest wetland consisting of 28 islands including two main populated islands providing shelter to over 200 families.

The main treasure of Madu Ganga is its mangroves which act as a bio-lock to the area in giving protection to the variety of aquatic plants and animal life. They provide a home for different kinds of aquatic plants, crabs, shrimps, fish, various invertebrates and other animal life including crocodiles.

Most of the Madu Ganga Islands and shores’ relatively undisturbed mangrove vegetation contains a rich biodiversity which qualified the wetland for 7 Criteria of International Importance. Many globally/nationally endangered, endemic and rare species – e.g. Shorea affinis, an endemic and endangered plant, Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) vulnerable (IUCN Red Book) and CITES-listed Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus), endangered, Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata), Indian Python (Python molurus) find shelter here. Therefore the Madu Ganga Mangrove Cluster was declared as a Ramsar Site in the year 2003 as the site number 1372.

The Mangroves of Madu Ganga is increasingly under threat from human habitation. The exploitation of the Kadola Groves (Rhizophora apiculata) is one of the reasons for this decline. The bark is removed to obtain a dye and then the tree withers away. The dead trees are collected by villagers for use as firewood it fodder. Mangroves around the populated islands are the most under threat. The villagers secretly landfill the mangroves bordering their land with rubble and let the trees die, extending their land outwards into the lagoon.

Madu Ganga River Safari through the mangroves has become one of the most sought-after river safaris in the south of the country. Many operators are found along the river banks bordering the Colombo-Galle main road.

Madu Ganga River Safari Operators

There are many operators along the river on both banks close the bridge over the Madu Ganga along the Galle Road. Many other operators are found inland all around the sanctuary as well. All operators are not the same. Few operators have been reported to have been charged exorbitant prices from unsuspecting tourists. A boat which can carry 6 people will cost approximately LKR 5,000-6,000 (USD 15-20) for the boat for a one-hour ride if you book directly through the safari operator. However, these operators are allegedly charging USD 35-45 per person for the same trip. Therefore make sure you read some reviews of the operators along the main roads. Some reviews can be found here

Islands of Madu Ganga

Maduwa is the largest and most populated island in the Madu Ganga covering 133 acres. The only attraction on the island is the Buddhist Temple and the Pattini Devalaya. There is a 200-meter narrow bridge connecting the mainland to Meda Duwa and this island connects to the Ma Duwa with a similar bridge. Only Bicycles and Motobikes can go on this narrow bridge. The island is thinly populated and has a school as well. A thick mangrove cover surrounds the shoreline.

Next to Maduwa lies Cinnamon Island, a small isolated island accessible only by boat. This island has been a Cinnamon Plantation from colonial times and thus the name. This is one of the most popular stops of boat safaries. You can see how the bark of the cinnamon is processed by hand and enjoy the freshest cinnamon tea. There are also fish foot spas on the river itself which you could enjoy.

Little further away from Maduwa lies the Kothduwa Rajamaha Viharaya temple covering the Kothduwa island. The smallest island on this cluster is Satha Paha Island which in fact is a rocky islet where a single-room small Hindu Kovil lies.

Also See

Map of  Mangroves of Madu Ganga

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Traveling Directions to Mangroves of Madu Ganga

Route from Colombo to Mangroves of Madu Ganga
Via : Southern Highway – Kurundugahahathakma Exit – Balapitiya Road
Distance : 101 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on Google map


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