We had crossed the bridge at Bentota River several times. The river is huge and the bridge, long. With coconut trees swaying with the wind on both sides of the river as far as the eyes could see, the reflection of the blue sky filled with clouds of many different shapes, made the river so enchanting that we almost jumped in jubilation when our new Sri Lankan friend, Jivana, asked us if we would like to go on a motor boat ride along the beautiful river. That was how the plan hatched.
We left our hotel at 9 AM sharp and the red tuktuk took us to the river bank where we boarded the boat and took off. We met our skipper (who we would soon know has an eagle's eye) and all of us took off. It started as a general sightseeing tour along the river (some ayurvedic massage centers, temples, helipad, resorts etc).
Things changed when we changed the path and started moving towards the dense mangroves. The water looked a bit pale as compared to the blue earlier, and the view of the sky started getting blocked by the huge branches dressed in the greenest of leaves. Occasionally, the sun would peek in to say a hello.
Within a few minutes of entering the dense forest of mangroves, we spotted our first Monitor Lizard. From afar, it looked like a crocodile swimming towards us. I have never seen a monitor lizard before and I was quickly introduced to it by Prateek and our guides. We came across several monitor lizards, some small and some, real big. And then, we spotted a crocodile, comfortably positioning itself in a corner, covered by branches and fallen leaves of the huge trees. We continued sailing forward, we now had 2 other motorboats for company. We saw some exotic birds. A blue kingfisher was the most beautiful of them all. We also saw a few bats hanging upside down the branches, announcing their sleeping time. A few monkeys screamed to draw attention towards their group as well.
Seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is so satisfying and the feeling when you know that you are actually at an arm's length distance from a crocodile, is kind of exciting.
The boat safari then took us further ahead to what a point they refer to as the crocodile man's house. Here you can hold baby crocodiles in your hands, an experience you will never forget. Never in my mind I thought the baby crocodile's skin would be so soft and squishy!
Once done with that part of the river, we went to the other side of the Bentota river after navigating through a narrow canopy of mangroves and got a change to climb a mangrove (just a tiny bit). After spending a while out there, we were back to the jetty. You can imagine what a fun day it was.
Here are some more pictures from the safari.
Price: We were charged 25 USD in total. It included our ride to the jetty and back, the river safari and coconut water for us both.
Duration: Around 3 hours
What to expect: Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Snakes, Birds
You can read more about our Sri Lanka trip on my blog www.amillionvoicesinside.com