The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Minneriya, situated at the centre of the Cultural Triangle, is a good alternative to the busier parks in the south and it is easy to weave a jeep drive here between visiting the ancient sites in this area.
The dry season, from June to September, is the best time to visit the 8,890 hectare park, when the ancient tank that dominates the area shrinks and the grasses and shoots push through. During this time it is possible to see herds of up to 150 elephants feeding and washing. It is termed ‘The Elephant Gathering’ and is the largest assemblage of Asian elephants in the world.
Minneriya mainly consists of tropical dryzone evergreen forest, abandoned chena lands, grasslands and wetlands.
Minneriya’s near neighbour to the north, Kaudulla was opened in 2002 to extend the elephant corridor in this region and ensure safe passage. Kaudulla reservoir draws herds of elephants during the dry season. September and October are the best times to visit, although the season can extend into December. Red Dot guides are keenly aware of where the best viewing opportunities lie.
Outside the main wildlife viewing period, Hurulu Eco-Park, close to Minneriya, offers elephant viewing opportunities when its much smaller lake briefly comes into its own between January and March. Herds of at least 30 elephants can be seen from January to March.
More than 20 mammals have been recorded in Minneriya National Park. In addition to its large elephant population, Minneriya also has leopards, sloth bear, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild buffalo, wild pig, grey langers, monkeys, mongoose porcupine and pangolin.
Nine species of amphibians have been seen, among them the native red-lipped lizard, water and land monitor lizards and mugger crocodiles.
Both Minneriya and Kaudulla have recorded more than 170 species of birds, ranging from migrating waders like sandpipers and plovers to forest birds like hornbills, woodpeckers and jungle fowl.
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