Madu Ganga

Madu Ganga: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

1. From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour

Check out some of Sri Lanka’s most gripping scenery while experiencing firsthand the flora and fauna of this stunning region. Marshy wetlands, river islands, baby turtles and fish foot massages await you in this sultry, exotic wonderland. First stop: Bawa’s estate in Lunuganga. Sir Geoffrey Bawa, the renowned lawyer-turned-architect, made this place his country home and experimental lab from 1947 till his death in 1998. See the surrounding exotic gardens of this partial country inn, as well as Bawa’s many architectural additions. Next stop: Kosgoda for an exciting visit to a real turtle hatchery. Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and dip into touch pools, deep tubs of seawater where curious guests can actually handle the baby versions. Proceed to Balapitiya and enjoy a lovely boat safari on Madu River. This is a high biodiversity zone that relies on the lagoon created by the river as it flows into the Indian Ocean. See the dense mangrove forest that grows along the marshy banks of the river, as well as several free-standing islands. On one such island you will find an old Buddhist monastery. The locals work harvesting cinnamon, and here you can experience the famous fish massage at a ‘massage parlor’, or hut on stilts. Relax while the fish work their magic on your toes. Afterwards, stop for lunch on your way back to Kalutara.

West coast Beach, River Mangroves lagoon, Wildlife boat Tour

2. West coast Beach, River Mangroves lagoon, Wildlife boat Tour

The tour starts from your hotel in Colombo or the west coast beach resort. You will be traveling along the beautiful west coast beaches while passing coconut plantations, fishing villages, and towns. You will be stopping at a few places at regular intervals. Your first stop will be at the sea turtle conservation center, where, you witness the sick and handicapped sea turtles are been treated. Later stop at Madu river for the mangrove lagoon tour. Mangroves Mangrove is one of the most important and fragile ecosystems in the world and they grow only in tropical countries such as Sri Lanka. This valuable forest cover is depleting all around the world, including in Sri Lanka, due to many factors such as climate change and human activities. Madu River estuary is a "RAMSAR wetland" and is declared a protected riverine forest. Boat safari Madu Ganga is one of the most important natural assets of Sri Lanka. It is located 70km south of Colombo on the Colombo-Galle main road. Madu Ganga is the second-largest wetland on the island, consisting of 28 islands. The number of families living on the islands is estimated to be around 250. Madu Ganga spreads over 915 hectares of wetland and harbors vast biodiversity and ecosystem. Madu Ganga wetland is fed by seven tributaries and forms the body of the wetland. The water runs through a course of land that spans 2300 hectares. It was declared a national sanctuary in 2006. A cruise on a modern motorboat is the best way to explore the natural wealth of Madu Ganga, the islands in the wetland are largely inaccessible by road. The inhabitants are also using boats and more often paddle boats as the means of transport. This tour offers a particularly appealing boat trip around Madu Ganga. The Ramsa Wetland is one of the most visited natural attractions of Sri Lanka’s west coast, with riverscapes amongst quiet thick grown islands and mangrove forests with sites of immense natural interest. There are plenty of opportunities to spot fascinating wildlife in the aquatic environment, throughout the tour. The most important asset of the fragile ecosystem of Madu Ganga is its mangrove forests. These mangrove forests provide protection for a large number of aquatic bird, animal, and plant species. The ecosystem in Madu Ganga is the home of many different kinds of aquatic plants, crabs, shrimp, fish, insects, amphibians, and other animal life including crocodiles. While on the boat tour you'll visit one of the oldest temples on the west coast of Sri Lanka, located on a secluded island. You will also get a chance to visit the mask museum and see hundreds of ancient masks and learn about their history, folklore, and use in rituals. You'll also visit a sea turtle conservation center run by volunteers. Learn about why Sri Lanka is a prime turtle nesting site and how important it is for turtle conservation. Before your tour is over, you'll get to enjoy a leisurely stroll on Bentota beach, one of the nicest beaches on the west coast. Buddhist temple, Bentota beach, spice herbal garden, Mask museum After the mangrove lagoon tour, you will be visiting the mask museum and mask carving center. Later visit Bentota beach spice and herbal garden and your tour ends with a visit to one of the most sacred Buddhist temples on the west coast.

Lunuganga, Kosgoda and Balapitiya Day-Tour from Negombo

3. Lunuganga, Kosgoda and Balapitiya Day-Tour from Negombo

Start your day of adventure with a pickup bright and early at 7:00 AM when your chauffeur arrives to pick you up at your accommodation. After a scenic car ride (2.5-hours) you will reach the destination of Bentota. The first location you will visit whilst in Bentota is the Bawa estate in Lunuganga. While visiting the estate you will get to see the beautifully designed gardens that are now open to the public. Some of the buildings of the estate are also now a country house hotel. The tour of the estate takes 2-hours, during which, you will learn of the fascinating history behind this place.  Continue on your travels to Kosgoda for your visit to the Turtle Hatchery. Whilst here, you will get to spend 30 to 40-minutes learning about sea turtles and their conservation. One of people's favourite parts of the hatchery is the touch pools, deep tubs of seawater with baby sea turtles swimming in them. Visitors are allowed to pickup and handle them under supervision. There are also fully matured sea turtles of different kinds, receiving treatment for various ailments or wounds. Once you leave the Turtle Hatchery behind, you will venture to Balapitiva for your chance to go on a lovely Boat Safari in Madu River. Balapitiya is a little southern town lying in marshy wetlands. The area is a high bio-diversity zone that relies on the lagoon created by Madu River as it flows into the Indian Ocean. Your safari will take you on a ride down the river. You will get to see the dense mangrove forest that grows along the marshy banks of the river and the forms of wildlife that call the roots home. Your guide will also take you to some of the larger free standing islands on Madu River. On one such island you will find an old Buddhist monastery.  During the safari, you will also get to try a very popular attraction, the fish massage. This ‘massage parlor’ is a hut standing on stilts in the middle of the river. A netted-in area contains the ‘massage fish’. You will be sitting on the deck of the hut with your feet in the water, while the fish work their magic. After this relaxing boat tour, you will return to Negombo around 2:30 PM. You will arrive back at your hotel at 6:00 PM for an evening of rest and relaxation after a long day of adventure.

From Negombo: Bentota Full-Day Tour

4. From Negombo: Bentota Full-Day Tour

Begin your day at 8:00 AM at Madu River in Balapitiya for a boat safari. For one-hour, journey through the primitive depths of the mangrove marshes. Traverse the dark and dangerous caverns, formed by the thick mangrove forests, interspersed with stretches of bright open water.  The next destination is the Kothduwa Temple. This Buddhist temple is located on the island and is known as the Kothduwa Raja Maha Viharaya. The island is within the Madu Ganga Estuary. Madu Ganga is an archipelago of fifteen different islands and a lagoon. It is believed that a Relic of Lord Buddha was once sheltered in the Kothduwa temple circa 340CE.  Enjoy lunch then visit the Lunuganga Garden. Geoffrey Bawa was one of Asia's finest architects. He passed away in 2003. Lunuganga was Bawa’s country home. It sits in an enchanting atmosphere with glorious views. It is now managed by the Lunuganga Trust. Admire the home’s features and blissfulness. It is now run as a country hotel and the proceeds go to Negombo.

From Colombo: Galle and Bentota Full-Day All-Inclusive Tour

5. From Colombo: Galle and Bentota Full-Day All-Inclusive Tour

You'll be picked up from your hotel in Negombo, Colombo, or Mount Lavinia at 7:30 AM to drive to Galle and visit the Dutch fort. The fort is a historical, archaeological, and architectural heritage monument. Even after more than 400 years, it remains intact and well maintained thanks to the extensive reconstruction work done by Sri Lanka's archaeological department. Next, you'll visit Ambalangoda, known for its exquisite collection of native masks. Many generations of artisans have carved these beautiful artifacts. Afterwards, drive on to Balaptiva for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, you'll take a boat trip on the Madu Ganga River. Discover the unspoiled beauty of the Madu Ganga estuary, a wetland ecosystem that opens to the Indian Ocean. Finally, you'll visit a turtle hatchery in Kosgoda before heading back to your hotel. Visitors can see the newborn turtles and even be a part of the process of releasing them into the sea!  

From Colombo: Private 2-Day Sri Lanka Highlights Trip

6. From Colombo: Private 2-Day Sri Lanka Highlights Trip

Start your private tour around the magical island of Sri Lanka at Colombo International Airport. Meet your knowledgeable local driver and guide and get transported to your hotel in Colombo. Get a good night's sleep before embarking on your tour. After breakfast the following morning, head to an elephant orphanage in a small village and meet some of the gentle giants native to Sri Lanka. Learn how the center rehabilitates young elephants who have been displaced and readies them for re-entry to their natural habitat. Then head to the city of Kandy to tour a spice and herb garden. Get to know some of the most important local spices, including coriander, chili, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, and their uses. Afterwards, check out the fruits of some other local industries, including gem crafting, woodcarving, and batik. Finally, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was built in the 16th century as the place of veneration and protection for Buddha’s sacred tooth. Walk through the beautifully embellished passageways and elaborate halls painted in red, cream, and black. Lounge against delicately carved pillars and marvel at the assortment of golden statues while your guide explains the historical and artistic significance of the temple. Return to your Colombo hotel afterwards.  On your second day, journey first to a turtle hatchery on the island's southwestern coast. Come face to face with these fascinating creatures and learn about their intricate life cycle. Then head to the Madu River for a boat safari. Pass through secret passages created by the mangrove trees and let your guide introduce you to the wonders of this flourishing ecosystem. After, continue on to Galle and explore the ancient colonial city where the Portuguese and Dutch made their headquarters at various points in history. Return to your hotel in Colombo. After breakfast, check out from the hotel and get transported back to the Colombo airport if you'll be leaving Sri Lanka after the tour.

From Colombo: Galle Guided Tour with Herbal Massage

7. From Colombo: Galle Guided Tour with Herbal Massage

Discover Sri Lanka’s south and west coasts, including Galle. You’ll visit the area’s most important cultural sites with a guide, such as Galle Fort, a herbal garden, a moonstone mine, a mask museum, and a sea turtle conservation. Finish the day with a cruise of the Madu River estuary.  Enjoy transportation from Colombo in a private vehicle to Galle. Stop off at Galle Fort, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site which represents the interaction between European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th century. See its churches, temples, and rampart on a guided tour.  Next, you’ll visit a traditional spice and herb garden on a guided walking tour. Admire the range of spices used for Sri Lankan cuisine and medication, and learn about their history and cultivation. Enjoy a relaxing herbal massage for yourself from an experienced massage therapist.  You’ll then visit the coastal town of Hikkaduwa, where you can take a stroll along the west coast beach, with its coral sanctuary and impressive wildlife population of marine turtles and exotic fish. The excursion also includes a tour of the local sea turtle conservation program, where you'll learn about their projects up close. You'll also visit a local moonstone mine, and take a tour of the traditional Ariyapala Masks Museum. Finally, stop off at the Madu River for a cruise up the estuary. Learn about its ecological significance as a designated Ramsar Wetland, and the second-largest wetland in Sri Lanka with its 23 islands. Take in the serene views before heading back to Colombo.

From Bentota: Balapitiya, Handunugoda and Galle Guided Tour

8. From Bentota: Balapitiya, Handunugoda and Galle Guided Tour

Start your sightseeing adventure with a convenient pickup from your hotel and head to your first stop for the day, Balapitiya. Enjoy a boat safari down the beautiful Madu River. Take a closer look at this wetland estuary and explore its lush mangrove forests, gliding under the canopy of the forest tunnels. Take in the unique biodiversity of this region, keeping an eye out for the crocodiles and water monitors that inhabit these waters. Stop at one of the many islands to witness the locals harvest cinnamon and end your boat safari with a visit to the fish spa. Your tropical tour continues after a short break for lunch. Head to Handunugoda to visit the local tea estate. Discover the tea that this plantation is famous for, Virgin White Tea, and learn how this luxury product is made on a tour of the plantation. Next, head to Ahangama for a truly unique photo opportunity. Watch as local fishermen demonstrate on-water stilt fishing, one of Sri Lanka's most interesting traditional fishing methods. Speak to one of the local fishermen and learn how they do it. The final stop on your Sri Lankan sightseeing tour is the old colonial city of Galle. Explore the Galle Fort, one of the best-preserved fortifications in Asia. Visit the Maritime Museum, the Galle National Museum, and the local lighthouse. Stroll down cobblestone streets as you learn the history of this port city, including the periods of Portuguese and Dutch rule.

Galle: Madu River and Galle Fort Guided Tour with Boat Trip

9. Galle: Madu River and Galle Fort Guided Tour with Boat Trip

Join this guided trip that combines a visit to Galle Fort, the UNESCO-listed ancient medieval capital of Southern Sri Lanka, with a riverboat trip on the Ramsar wetland of Madu, where you can immerse yourself in a mangrove forest, animals, and birds. After hotel pickup, your vehicle makes the journey southward along the spellbinding west coast beaches to Balapitiya and Galle. The old capital of southern Sri Lanka, built by the Portuguese in 1505, is the most popular tourist attraction in Southern Sri Lanka. Galle attracts thousands of travelers, food lovers, beach lovers, and shoppers every day. The Galle Fort is the best-preserved colonial fort in Asia. This ancient site is full of well-preserved houses, palaces, hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, and other constructions. On arrival, set out on foot with your guide who will lead you around the rampart and along the twisting narrow cobble streets laid out by ancient constructors. Marvel at an ancient church built more than 250 years ago. On the return journey, hop on a boat in the Mad River estuary, which is a Ramsar wetland comprised of 64 islands. The extent of the Madu River wetland is 915 hectares, and it harbors multi-varied bio-diverse eco-systems. 

Other Sightseeing Options in Madu Ganga

Want to discover all there is to do in Madu Ganga? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Madu Ganga

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 5 reviews

The tour was very entertaining. The best was the boat tour through the mangroves of Madu Ganga. The guide was friendly and helpful. When tipping the locals, however, he let me run into the knife a little and in the end I got rid of a hefty sum. Please be careful when tipping! It is best to inquire beforehand what is customary in the country. Inexperienced