The picturesque west coast of Sri Lanka offers visitors a laidback seaside getaway where one can, not only soak up the sun, but some local culture as well. Home to such idyllic coastal areas as Negombo and Marawila, this scenic part of the island is also where one can experience some of the country’s rich biodiversity which can be seen in such nature reserves as the Muthurajawela Marshes.
Translated to mean ‘Swamp of Royal Treasure’ and since local legend states that treasures of ancient kings are buried here, the Muthurajawela Marshes make up a wetland sanctuary that is believed to date as far back as 5000 BC. This ecologically diverse marshland which also includes the Negombo lagoon spans an area of around 6,000 hectares and is Sri Lanka’s largest peat bog.
An ideal place to visit for nature lovers, the Muthurajawela Marshes with its mangrove and reed swamps, shrub land, stream bank and short grassland areas is home to around 194 plant species including those that have special medicinal properties. Apart from the diverse flora, the marsh also has a wide range of fauna including various fish, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammalian species.
Since the waters within the wetland are continuously mixing with the seawater that is brought in by the high tide, the resulting integrated coastal ecosystem has become a flourishing breeding ground for both animal and plant life. While shrimp, fish and crab species can be found in these waters, the marsh is also a thriving habitat for monitor lizards and butterflies as well as the country’s largest snake, the Python and the protected estuarine crocodile.
Home to approximately 102 bird species including migratory birds, the Muthurajawela Marshes are known for being one of the best spots in the island for bird watching. Around 37% of the country’s native avifauna can be found here. Egrets, kingfishers, Indian cormorants, black-crowned night herons, Brahminy kites and marsh sandpipers are among the many species one may sight within the area.
Travellers can easily find beach hotels Sri Lanka that are close to the island’s natural, historical and cultural attractions. Set amidst panoramic ocean views, Club Palm Bay Marawila is a luxurious Marawila hotels that makes an ideal base from which to explore the west coast and such attractions as the Muthurajawela Marshes.