Had your fill of ancient ruins and temples? It’s time to get your wildlife-kicks. Located in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Minneriya National Park is a natural sanctuary of evergreen forests, lush grasslands and swampy wetlands. The focal point is the sparkling water tank, built by the great King Mahasen in 3rd century AD. While the scenery definitely has the wow-factor, the star attraction is the elephants. Here, you can experience one of the world’s most amazing natural spectacles - hundreds of elephants migrating between Sri Lanka’s parks. The largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world, this once-a-year event is an absolute must-see for animal-lovers and photographers.
It’s not all about elephants though. The park’s diverse landscapes are home to an impressive array of wildlife. Sambar, spotted deer and wild buffalo graze in the grass, while toque macaque and purple-faced langur mischievously swing from the canopies. Crocodiles, fish, herons and storks hang out at the central reservoir, while painted-lip lizards, frogs and jungle fowl lurk among the trees. You might even spot the odd sloth bear or leopard prowling around. If you’ve come to see some amazing wildlife, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re planning on a safari in Minneriya National Park, chances are there’s one creature at the top of your wildlife wish-list - the Asian elephant. The good news is, you’ve come to the right place. Together with Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa national parks, Minneriya makes up the famous elephant corridor. At certain times of the year (mainly July to October), as many as 300 of these gentle giants migrate through the park. The months of July and August are a particularly good times to visit, as this is when the elephants make a beeline for Minneriya tank to feed, bathe and socialise.
If you can tear your eyes away from the elephants for a moment, there are plenty of other sightseeing opportunities - especially around the tank. Storks and pelicans strut along the shores, while creepy crocs and colourful fish float in the shallow waters. Deer and buffalo also gather around the reservoir to drink from the water’s edge and graze in the grass.
A Minneriya safari offers the rare opportunity to see some unique and awe-inspiring animals in the wild. Trust us when we say this is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Minneriya National Park is located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, 182 km from Colombo. Many people going on safaris tend to stay in the nearby cities of Habarana and Polonnaruwa.
The park is open from 6am to 6.30pm everyday. August and September are some of the best months to visit, as this is when the highest number of elephants can be seen. Choose a morning safari for the best bird-spotting opportunities and an afternoon one for the best chance of seeing elephants.
The cost of your safari will depend on whether you choose a half day (3 hours) or full day (6 hours) tour.
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