1. From Kalutara: Lunuganga Estate, Turtles and Madu River Tour
Check out some of Sri Lanka’s most gripping scenery while experiencing firsthand the flora and fauna of this stunning region. Marshy wetlands, river islands, baby turtles and fish foot massages await you in this sultry, exotic wonderland. First stop: Bawa’s estate in Lunuganga. Sir Geoffrey Bawa, the renowned lawyer-turned-architect, made this place his country home and experimental lab from 1947 till his death in 1998. See the surrounding exotic gardens of this partial country inn, as well as Bawa’s many architectural additions. Next stop: Kosgoda for an exciting visit to a real turtle hatchery. Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and dip into touch pools, deep tubs of seawater where curious guests can actually handle the baby versions. Proceed to Balapitiya and enjoy a lovely boat safari on Madu River. This is a high biodiversity zone that relies on the lagoon created by the river as it flows into the Indian Ocean. See the dense mangrove forest that grows along the marshy banks of the river, as well as several free-standing islands. On one such island you will find an old Buddhist monastery. The locals work harvesting cinnamon, and here you can experience the famous fish massage at a ‘massage parlor’, or hut on stilts. Relax while the fish work their magic on your toes. Afterwards, stop for lunch on your way back to Kalutara.