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Minneriya National Park is the prominent national park in Sri Lanka for elephant viewing. Centred around the giant Minneriya tank, elephants from the park, as well as from the adjoining Kaudulla National Park, make their way to the tank towards late afternoon to cool off. Thus, the best time to visit the Park would be during the dry season, when most of the life revolves around the tank, which becomes the sole source of water.
If you are familiar with the country, you could go to the entrance of the Park on your own and hire a jeep for the safari. However, it is easier to make this reservation through your hotel. Jetwing Vil Uyana, for example, offers safaris that are dedicated for their guests, which means you will have complete privacy – as much as you can have in an open jeep – as you observe Sri Lankan wildlife. The jeeps are designed to accommodate 6 to 8 people at once. There is a tarp covering the open back, which is often rolled away if the Sun is not too severe. There are benches or high seats at the back of the jeep for you to sit on. However, most visitors prefer to stand, holding on to the iron bars that run the length of the jeep, to get a better view of the surrounding. The ride is going to be quite bumpy, and you must heed the word of your driver who often acts as a guide. There are leopards in Minneriya National Park, although sightings are rare. It is only by paying close attention to your guide, that you will be able to reap the maximum benefit of the safari. They are often well-versed in English. However, if you are worried, you could inquire for an interpreter from a Sigiriya hotel. At the end of the day, there is not much that words can convey when you are sitting so close to an elephant munching on coconut fronds, that you could reach out and pat his back if you want to.
Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+