Bentota River Safari

Bentota River Safari Vs Madu River Safari and Bentota River Safari in a Nutshell

What is the best Boat safari in Bentota? Bentota River Safari or Madu River Safari?

If you are looking for a boat tour in Bentota, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, you definitely will be contemplating as to what boat tour you should take and which one gives you the best experience. Because this coastal city is a popular beach holiday destination on the island and attracts many thousands of sun-worshippers. Most of these beach holiday lovers set off on a few short trips during their beach stay and boat tour or boat safari, Galle day tour, Colombo city tour, Udawalawe safari are some of the popular activities for them.

There are two major places for boat tours in Bentota, they are Madu River estuary and Bentota River. Both tours are very similar in many ways. Cost, duration, kind of motorboat used for the trip and even the vegetation of both places have a lot of similarities. However, most travelers prefer the boat trip on the Bentota river over the Madu River estuary. As a local tour operator that experienced both trips, I agree with them. So if you are also in dilemma and find it hard to decide to pick the best place for your boat tour, this article is for you.

Mangrove forest

Mangrove lagoon is one of the very striking features of the boat trip and you will not encounter this type of mangrove lagoon during other boat trips in Sri Lanka. The boat takes you through 2 mangrove tunnels, however, the mangrove tunnel of Bentota river is about 3 times longer and denser compared to the mangrove tunnels of Madu estuary. Therefore, the Bentota River is better compared to the Madu River statuary if you like to see the interesting vegetation of mangrove forests.

Bentota is primarily a beach holiday destination

By far Bentota is the most popular beach resort in Sri Lanka and it attracts the most number of beach holiday lovers of Sri Lanka. It is one of the most popular beaches for day outings in Sri Lanka. Bentota deserves to be the best beach holiday destination in Sri Lanka because it has all ingredients to be so. This popular beach resort provides pristine beaches, diving sites, water sports centers, restaurants, bars, cafes, markets, temples, historical monuments, a wide range of accommodation facilities, recreation activities… and many many more.

Bentota River

Bentota River is one of the most important geographical features in Bentota and a popular place for Sri Lanka one-day trips from Colombo and west coast hotels. However, Bentota boat safari is not as popular as the Bentota beach resort. Its importance is largely overlooked due to its nearby counterpart, Madu riverboat estuary, which is the most popular river safari spot on the island. Most Bentota one-day trip from Colombo includes a boat trip. But the boat trip is not at Bentota river most of the time and it is at Madu estuary.

There are many places on the island to explore rich riverine fauna and flora. Madu river estuary, Muthurajawela wetland are the 2 most popular wetlands on the island for Sri Lanka boat trips. Bentota River safari is not as popular as both paces mentioned above, however, the natural beauty of the Bentota River is not second to any of the places mentioned above.  

Madu river safari Vs Bentota River safari

Madu river safari Vs or Bentota River safari
There is enough space for small boats to go through the mangrove forest

I have done boat trips many times on the Bentota River as well as the Madu estuary, according to my experience, the Boat tour at Bentota is much more attractive than bot boat trips at the Madu river and Muthurajawela due to its richness of Fauna and flora.

Which is the most popular boat safari in Bentota?

Undoubtedly, the Madu Riverboat safari is the most popular boat tour in Bentota, therefore, most travelers undertake the boat tour at Madu River. Due to its popularity, travelers can see a large number of boats crisscrossing the Madu estuary at any time of the day. You may even encounter many dozens of motorboats running up and down as you take the boat tour. Due to the fact that increased human activities along the river over the last several years, it has been turned to difficult to spot many animal species on the River now, and it might be difficult to see many animal species like crocodiles, monitors, and monkeys.

Bentota boat tour is far less popular than Madu River boat safari, and therefore human activities and sightseers are occurring in far fewer numbers compared to the Madu estuary. It means that the natural habitats at the Bentota river are far less disturbed compared to the nature at Madu estuary. Therefore, the opportunities are very high to see many animal species such as crocodiles, snakes, monitor lizards, monkeys, as well as a large number of birds.

Madu River safari Vs Bentota River safari

If you stay in a beach resort on the west coast of Sri Lanka and like to do a boat trip there are 2 options for you Madu river and Bentota river. The Rivers are not far from each other, Madu river attracts the greatest number of travelers due to its popularity while the Bentota River attracts only a fraction of the crowd that is visited by the Madu River.

Boating through the Mangrove tunnel of Bentota River

You might be wondering what the mangrove tunnel is. Because tunnels are to be found in cement, metal, and rock but a tunnel made of mangrove, definitely a little bit awkward. Even though it sounds a bit strange, you can witness a mangrove tunnel during the boat trips. Your boat will travel through the mangrove tunnel.

The mangrove tunnel is formed by huge mangrove trees, which are rising up to many hundred feet from the water surface of the bay. These giant mangrove trees reside on the shallow, muddy surface of the river bank. Its roots are poking into the air and work like noses trills of mangrove trees, and help the tree to absorb air into the system.

Whether it is Madu River boat safari or Bentota River boat safari you will encounter mangrove bays. But the mangrove forest that has a shape of a tunnel at Bentota river is much bigger than the tunnel found in the Madu river estuary. The Mangrove tunnel in Bentota River is many hundred feet high in some areas and its with roughly about 20 feet. The tunnel of the Bentota River is about 200 meters in length and it takes about 10 minutes to go from one end to the other in a motorboat.

However, the mangrove tunnel of the Madu river estuary is much smaller and less attractive than the tunnel found in Bentota River. Furthermore, the Bentota River is very wide and deeper than the Madu River estuary, Bentota River is the 5th biggest River in Sri Lanka. However, the Madu estuary is smaller compared to the Bentota river and shallower than the Bentota River. There are 64 islands of varying sizes within the Madu River estuary but there is no island to be found in the Bentota River, and it is flanked by the mainland.

Visiting mangrove forest on the Bentota river safari
Giant mangrove trees rise on both sides of a water stream that flows into the Bentota River.

Flora and Fauna

The Flora to be found in both places are by and large are the same. But with regards to Fauna Bentota river has much more variety than the Madu estuary. Crocodiles, Water monitors, land monitors, snakes, monkeys, and many species of avian fauna species can be easily spotted on a boat trip to Bentota River. The water monitor is the most common animal to be found in Madu estuary and it is highly unlikely to spot crocodiles, snakes, and monkeys on a boat trip of Madu estuary.

Bentota River safari price

The price of the Bentota River safari is similar to the Madu River Safari. The price for the 1 hour Bentota River safari is 2500 Rs while the cost for the 2 hours Bentota River safari is 5000 Rs. The price does not include transportation and guiding.

Why you should Bentota boat safari with Seerendipity tours?

Seerendipity tour is a fully locally owned travel company with a head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka vacation packages

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, which means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Plan your best Sri Lanka vacation packages with experts

Our staff makes a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write to us at

Leave a Reply

Choose Your Language »