The Muthurajawela marsh derives its name from Sinhalese, the language most commonly spoken in the country; Muthurajawela means ‘the marshy land of royal treasure’ and it is believed that treasures of ancient kings have been buried in this area.
For the visitor arriving in Sri Lanka via its Bandaranaike International Airport, it is this Muthurajawela swamp that is visible from above as a vast green patch of land. The government declared the Muthurajawela marsh a sanctuary in 1996 taking note of its bio diversity. It is located in the southern region of Negombo and spans from the Negombo lagoon up to the Kelani River, one of the longest rivers in the country that flows through the outskirts of Colombo. Thus, this diverse ecosystem is located close to the capital and is easily accessible.
Its diverse species of flora and fauna are a true treat for any nature lover; it is said that there are as many as 192 varieties of flora as well as 209 types of fauna. In addition to this, there are 102 species of birds making it a perfect spot to go bird watching as many nestlings have made it their seasonal home. Early morning bird watching expeditions can result in sightings of birds such as egrets and herons. It is also said that the endangered slender Loris, a nocturnal species can also be spotted here on very rare occasions.
There is also a visitor centre called the Muthurajawela marsh centre that assists visitors to obtain more information. For those who are keen on bird watching or going on a boat ride in the marsh and the lagoon area the best time to visit is either early in the morning or late afternoon and evening as birds can be spotted at these times while also avoiding the harsh sun.
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