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Nilwala Ganga Boat Safari

Nilwala Ganga Boat Safari

The Nilwala river runs through the south of Sri Lanka passing through pristine wetland habitats laden with mangroves and runs through the heart of Matara, one of the country’s most populated towns before it meets the vast expanses of the Indian ocean. To experience the bounty of natural treasures here, you can go on a guided boat safari along the Nilwala River. The boat ride takes you to the lagoon where you can see the point where the river meets the sea, through the back of remote villages where people go about their day to day activities and as you travel further up into the wilderness where you are surrounded by vast tracts of mangrove habitats. Being in the intermediate zone, a variety of species found from both the wet zone and dry zone can be encountered here. Close to a hundred species of birds including a variety of water birds including White-throated, Pied, Common and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Yellow and Black Bittern, raptors such as White-bellied Sea Eagles, Changeable Hawk Eagles and Oriental Honey Buzzard can be seen. Bengal Water Monitors can be seen perched on branches or swimming through the water while troops of Toque Macaques can be seen feeding on the tree tops.

Unlike most of the other Sri Lankan rivers, the Nilwala Ganga has a deep dark secret. It is home to one of the largest known populations of Estuarine Crocodiles (also referred to as the Saltwater Crocodile or ‘Salty’) found in Sri Lanka, the largest living species of reptile in the world. Across different points in the river, secure enclosures have been setup for the locals who wish to bathe and wash their clothes, as a safety measure against potential crocodile attacks. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the boat journey is to encounter these modern day dinosaurs in their natural habitat. From hatchlings to large dominant males which can get to over 15 feet in length, crocodiles of all ages and sizes roam these waterways. The boat safaris run twice a day in the mornings or afternoons from Matara and bottled water along with a refreshing drink of king coconut are served as you traverse through the Nilwala river.

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