Kosgoda

Kosgoda is home to the west coast’s biggest and longest turtle hatchery (daily 8am to 6pm). This was originally established as an independent venture, though the project has now been taken over by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Turtle eggs are bought from local fishermen and reburied in safe locations, once hatched, the babies are kept here for a few days before being released into the sea – the short time they spend growing stronger in captivity gives them significantly higher chances of surviving when returned to the ocean. There are plenty of baby turtles swimming around in holding tanks – all five species of turtle which visit Sri Lanka lay eggs, and depending on when you visit, you might see newly hatched examples of them all.

Nearby to Kosgoda the straggling villages of Induruwa and Ahungalla backed by a stretch of sleepy and as yet relatively undeveloped beaches, dotted with a few luxury hotels and smaller guest houses are becoming increasingly popular with visitors looking to avoid the major west coasts resorts. The atmosphere hereabouts is a bit melancholy, although if you get bored there are a couple of nearby attractions.

Madhu River safari

Madhu River safari

Further south of Kosgoda and about 5km north of the bigger city local metropolis of Amabalangoda, the village of Balapitiya is the starting point for interesting boat safairs along the Madu River, a good place to spot water monitors and a wide array of birdlife, including myriad colorful kingfishers. There are also no less than 66 islands along this stretch of river, one of which is home to a large Buddhist temple adorned with lurid modern paintings and sculptures.