This was yet another highlight of my time in Sri Lanka. On the one hand, I’m happy that I got to see the Madu River without it being crowded with hordes of other tourists, but on the other hand – I confess to rightfully feeling some guilt to being a tourist while Sri Lanka melts down. While I was enjoying this tour, students occupied the gates leading to the presidential palace in Colombo. Several people were shot in a Northern town when they were protesting the lack of fuel, and the IMF was finally arriving with a delegation to discuss options for Sri Lanka. We had several more things on our itinerary, but I absolutely couldn’t in good conscience continue to tour and use gas (even in a hybrid vehicle), so I requested that after the boat safari, I be taken straight to the airport. Several roads were closed along the way and we saw what looked like the beginning of a vehicle blockade on the highway just before the airport – but we made it. I’ve really fallen in love with Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan people during this trip – it is heartbreaking to watch as all of this transpires and be able to do nothing about it. My guide has no idea when he will be able to work again – I could tell that he was freaking out about losing part of his tip or getting a bad review due to cutting things short – he kept insisting that it was fine and we should continue and finally, I had to point blank tell him “No, I’m done. It won’t reflect on your company or your tip, but I have no need to see any more tourist sites” We had become friends over the past several days together and he invited me to take lunch at his home before he dropped me off. It was a kind offer, but honestly, my airport anxiety was in full flush. While it would have been very nice to meet his family and to share in their hospitality – I likely would have been an impatient and anxious guest, so I declined as politely as I could. I think he understood. I’d upgraded to Business Class with a lowball $130 offer that Sri Lankan Airlines accepted. While it wasn’t the deluxe first class I hoped for, I’m still glad and it was worth the cost if only to have more room to relax, a slightly better meal and entertainment options, and a fast track through immigration in Dubai – this was a perk that I didn’t realize the higher fare passengers got. Those expensive tickets start to make more and more sense as time goes on.
Enough of all that though – here are the pictures from the Madu River Boat Safari.