highlights and main attractions of minneriya national park

Set in the heart of the popular cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park is mostly known for its incredible elephant migration, which is one of Asia’s finest wildlife experiences. During the drier months of June to September, as many as 300 elephants congregate in the Minneriya National Park around the ancient Minneriya water tank (which dates back to 3rd Century AD), taking advantage of the receding waters that provide an important water source. 

As it is so close to the some of the other cultural attractions of Sri Lanka, it can be a great alternative to Yala and some of the other parks in the south.

Where is Minneriya National Park?

location, highlights and wildlife

Covering an area of 8,890 hectares, Minneriya is around 4 hours from the capital city of Colombo and is close to other local attractions. For example, the UNESCO world heritage site of Polonnaruwa is just 20 kilometres away and Habarana and Sigiriya are also close-by, making it possible to combine cultural and wildlife experiences into one itinerary. The topography of the park is comprised of scrub plains and mixed evergreen forests alongside rocky outcrops and wetlands, providing a range of habitats to suit a variety of critters.

The gathering of the elephants is a wildlife enthusiast’s joy and photographer’s dream. Small herds gather around the water tank, forming one giant mass of elephant grey. Watching the playful jumbos drink, bathe, jostle and hustle is heart-warming and a great memory within what will be a varied itinerary of contrasting highlights. Not just a playground for jumbos, you may also catch sight of some of the other 24 mammals that make their home in the park, including toque macaque monkeys, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild buffalo, porcupine, wild boar and mongoose. Leopards are also found in the park, although less prolific than those found in Yala.

The birdlife of the park is also impressive, with over 160 species, including kingfishers, hornbills and jungle fowl, many of which like to fish in the shallows waters around the water tank.

minneriya national park accommodation options

Accommodation options near to the park include the wonderful Cinnamon Lodge which is set on the edge of a lake in nearby Habarana, an attraction in itself and a good base for exploring the incredible rock fortress of Sigiriya, which is a great morning or sunset excursion as part of an exciting, active itinerary. The park is easily accessible, being located in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, making it easy to melt culture and wildlife into one perfect itinerary.

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