The Minneriya National Park is one of the most breathtaking and diverse national parks in Sri Lanka, and is easily accessed from most parts of the island. Originally a wildlife sanctuary, it was declared a national park in 1997. It is one of the seventy Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka and is a haven for bird watching and animal lovers.
Minneriya National Park is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including sambar deer, leopards and is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts and holidaymakers with a penchant for natural landscapes. It is home to many endemic species of animals, such as monkeys, other mammals, and numerous bird species.
But perhaps its most famous aspects are the elephants. Minneriya National Park attracts hundreds of wild elephants in herds to its watering holes during the dry season. It has been known to attract up to as high as 700 elephants, migrating from Wasgamuwa National Park. If you are visiting Minneriya National Park, it is recommended to visit during the dry season to catch these gentle giants roaming wild and free. Elephant sightings are guaranteed during this time, and is an experience that visitors to Sri Lanka must not miss out on, and Minneriya National Park offers this experience without any animal cruelty or holding elephants captive.
Apart from the wildlife, Minneriya National Park has cultural significance, having the catchment of the Minneriya Tank which was built by King Mahasen in 3000 AD.
At Minneriya National Park, safari tours can be arranged from the Amaya Beach Hotel Sri Lanka to witness the annual elephant gathering which has been ranked among the “10 greatest wildlife spectaculars” in the world by Lonely Planet. Combine it with a cultural excursion to Polonnaruwa, which is the town closest to Minneriya National Park.