Muthurajawela translates into Sinhalese as ‘Swamp of Pearls’, a name that is of ancient origin but in recent times is only a swamp of pearls in a metaphoric sense.The area is a unique integrated coastal ecosystem which was formed by the high tide bringing saltwater from the sea into the wetland, daily, for thousands of years. The marshland is located on the west coast between the Negombo Lagoon and the Kelani River and continues inland, all the way into the Gampaha district. The marshland is believed to have originated around 5000 BC and was once a lush rice growing region.
The best way to experience the wetlands is to go through the Muthurajawela Visitor Centre and book a two hour boat ride. A guide will accompany you on the boat to help identify the local flora and fauna as you glide alongthe channels and through the mangroves. The more avid wildlife enthusiasts may choose to spend up to a day exploring walking paths as well as the channels. A great way to wrap up a visit to the Reserve is to stop in at Jetwing Lagoon to take in a whole different view of the lagoon. The hotel’s restaurant offers a sweeping view over the water, coupled with a hundred meter long pool and architecture that made history; you may be tempted to check in for a night at this luxurious Negombo resort!
The Muthurajawela marsh, only a twenty minute scenic drive from the hotel, spans a six thousand hectare area and is home to several species of fish and amphibians including indigenous, endangered and exotic varieties. The Eurasian crocodile, Sri Lanka’s largest snake – the python, the Spectacle Cobra and the Russell’s viper are among the more hair raising of creatures you may encounter. Bird sightings are what are most likely in the Reserve with more than one hundred species along with migrants being of the feathered kind. If luck is on your side, you may even spot a fishing cat or an otter.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.