Elephant Tree (Kalpitiya).

On our last trip to Kalpitiya, we took a boat ride out to the Elephant Tree – an ancient massive tree nestled among a beautiful lagoon of mangroves.

The Boat Ride

The Kalpitiya mangroves are not too far from land, maybe about 45 minutes away on a motorboat. Once the boat enters this green space, the motor will likely be shut off because apparently there are large rocks beneath that can damage the boat. So you’ll be floating through the mangroves awhile – the view makes for a relaxing journey.

The mangroves, the calm lagoon water, and the steady buzzing of locusts inside the green, are straight out of an Anaconda movie. You start thinking about snakes and crocodiles and our boatman just smiled mysteriously when we asked him about it, which didn’t help things.

The Elephant Tree is about half an hour’s meandering into the mangroves. It’s a humungous one whose leaves tower and spread out like one of those trees in Savanna. Its trunk and branches are swollen and misshapen and the locals believe it is shaped like an elephant.

Captain of our humble ship

We asked our boatman how old the tree was, and he laughed and replied ‘long, long before we were born’.

Getting There

An island of uninhabited forest in the Dutch Bay – you’ll pass these on the way

Kalpitiya is about 4.5 hours from Colombo on a bus. The best way to get to the mangroves is through your hotel (ours was Ruuk Village) – they will arrange boat rides through Kalpitiya’s lagoon and the Dutch Bay. The boat rides will likely be part of a package and include trips to the Motuwarama Dutch Church ruins, dolphin watching, and if you’re up for it, to the kite-surfing stretch. If you have about four of you in the boat, it’ll cost around Rs. 2K each.

Conclusion

Kalpitiya is a great place for boat rides. Pack up some lunch, load up on sunblock, and head out on the lagoon and bays – mosey on through the mangroves and stray green islands in Kalpitiya that are yet to be adulterated by urban development. It will be a relaxing trip and a welcome getaway from the usual scene if you’re from the city.

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