These tours are one of the best reasons to visit Pottuvil. Outrigger canoes take visitors punting across the lagoon where you can potter about among the mangroves searching for crocodiles, monkeys and myriad birds. It’s best to go early in the morning or last thing in the evening. Ignore touts in Arugam Bay and arrange things here at the waterside office.
The mangroves, islands and waterways of the lagoon are a rich ecosystem teeming with giant monitor lizards, kingfishers, the occasional elephant (who does not like to be disturbed), eagles, peacocks, egrets and much more. Birdlife includes spoonbills, stilts, several kinds of kingfisher, sea eagles, pelicans and herons. Seeing them as you cruise along on a two-hour mangrove ecotour, with only the sounds of the fisherman’s pole in the water and animals in the trees, is both exciting and serene.
Unfortunately, none of the genial boat operators are likely to speak much English (they speak Tamil) but they enthusiastically point things out.
Besides visiting the tour office, you can try calling to arrange a time, but note that the numbers change often. All the boat operators are part of the Hidiyapuram Fishermen’s Cooperative Society and they look out for each other. Your tour fees go to help community development.