Guide To Minneriya National Park – Visit The Gentle Giants

A safari through the wilderness and rugged jungles of Minneriya National Park will offer you plenty of opportunities to see Sri Lanka’s gentle giants; the elephants!

Where is it?

Minneriya National Park is located in the North Central Province of the island. There are many ways to get here, either by bus, car or plane! As flying the fastest and most convenient way to travel to the park, you’ll be able to arrange a flight through Cinnamon Air. Those interested in driving can rent a car through the many car rental groups in Sri Lanka.

Minneriya National Park | Image Credit - Photnart, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia Commons

Minneriya National Park | Image Credit – Photnart, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia Commons

Elephants

The Sri Lankan elephant is a treasured beast on the island. The Minneriya National Park has approximately 150 – 200 elephants and The Gathering inside the park is known to be one of the largest wild elephant gatherings in the world.

Threats

Sadly, the Minneriya National Park faces a huge threat of being wiped out; the animals with it, due to human encroachment, overfishing, poaching, water pollution and the clearance of the forest.

Other animals

The other wonderful animals that reside in this park include the Sri Lanka leopard, deer, sloth bear, toque macaque, monitors, jungle fowl and much more.

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Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The park has 8890 hectares, and is located between Habarana and Polonarruwa. This park consists of mixed evergreen forestland scrub areas and is home to Sri Lanka’s favorites such as Sambar Deer, leopards and mainly elephants. The Hotel Sigiriya is a luxury Hotel in Sigiriya, which gives an opportunity to marvel at the grandeur and mystique of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Fabulous and scrumptious culinary cuisine will be offered at the hotel. Guests can get pampered at the Spa and by the Ayurvedic professionals. The hotel will give a unique experience that is guaranteed to make you relax and unwind. Guests will be enthralled by lush green landscapes and the rich cultural heritage.

The Central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank which was built in the 3rd century by the King Mahasena. The Tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze on the grasses, as well as a huge flock of birds that come to fish in the water. Among the reptiles that can be seen are the Red-Lipped lizard and Skinhal, both are endemic to Sri Lanka as well as endangered. Minneriya National Park mainly affords the opportunity to sight herds of Elephants throughout the year. May to October is the best period to visit Minneriya National Park in view of the famous Gathering of the wild elephants. Gathering is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During this period herds up to 300 elephants are seen at the 8,890 hectare park within a few square kilometers of the Minneriya Reservoir. This amazing Gathering was listed as Number 6 in the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Natural Wildlife Spectacles of the World.

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Minneriya National Park- nature lover’s paradise

Minneriya National Park which is located between the cities of Habarana and Pollonnuruwa was declared as a National Park in 1997. The park is an ideal place to watch elephant gatherings during the dry season. Home to different habitats and arrays of flora and fauna the National Park of Manneriya is a dream come true for nature lovers and photographers. Travellers planning holidays in Sri Lanka can use the services offered by the well renowned tour provider,Walkers Tours Sri Lanka and enjoy a comfortable tour through the North central province.

The central attraction of the park is the Minneriya Tank built by King Mahasena. During June to September this is an unbelievable place to observe the elephants and the flocks of birds such as the painted storks, pelicans, open bills and many other migratory and local birds. Travellers could also spot the Sambar deer, sloth bears, and the leopards when visiting the park. A feeding ground for the Sri Lankan elephants the reservoir sustains a large herd of elephants at a given time. The landscape of the park is simply magnificent; it consists of wetlands, grasslands and tropical evergreen forests as well as small shrubs areas. Apart from these there are a large collection of reptiles in the park such as the endemic and endangered red-lipped lizard and the skinks.

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Minneriya National Park – contributing towards the eco-tourism of Sri Lanka

Located 182 km form Colombo in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province is the famed Minneriya National Park which ranks amongst the country’s leading natural reserves. This is why when staying at a Sigiriya hotel such as Aliya Resort & Spa, a journey to the park is almost inevitable. Considered by many as one of the most sought after ofresorts in Sri Lanka to head over to, one would be compelled to set out on a day’s trip to the Minneriya National Park.
Featuring wetlands, grasslands, scrublands and secondary forests that hold many a secret, the park is also known for its bird population which attracts nature lovers from far and beyond. Unveiled as a national park in 1997, the premises perhaps is best known for the ‘Gathering’ which takes place between the months of August and September and sees the largest group of Asian elephants arrive to feed, drink and frolic in and around the Minneriya Reservoir. Jeeps Safaris are the best ways in which to capture not jut elephants but sloth bears, sambar deer, saltwater crocodiles, Indian pythons and a host of bird species in their natural habitats. Since it is found in the dry zone of the country, plenty of refreshments must be taken before you embark on a trip to the wonderful Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park – Natural Wonders of Sri Lanka

Minneriya National Park, which is in the catchment of the Minneriya reservoir built in the 3rd century CE, is synonymous with the Sri Lanka elephant ever since it was observed that a large number of them congregate here to graze during the dry season. This event has been identified as the largest seasonally recurring wildlife phenomenon in the country. The importance of the area around the Minneriya reservoir to wildlife was recognized as far back as 1938 when it was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1997 it was upgraded to a Wildlife Park.

Other than the elephants the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife including the Sri Lanka leopard, the Sri Lanka sloth bear, the purple faced langur, the toque macaque, two species of deer and the gray slender loris that are among the 26 species of mammals, both large and small that are found here. The park has also been identified as an important bird area in Sri Lanka with 160 species of birds being spotted around the reservoir. They range from large populations of water birds to migrants and residents and include flocks of pelicans, jungle fowl, cormorants, grey herons, babblers, parrots and bulbuls among others.

Pythons, water monitors and crocodiles are among the 25 species of reptiles that inhabit the park. The park’s other denizen’s include nine species of amphibians, 26 species of fish and 75 species of butterflies.

However the other wildlife pales in comparison to the elephants that can be easily spotted and are in a large group. The ‘Gathering’ as the congregation of elephants here is now called, are elephant herds from Matale, Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa districts that come to graze on the succulent grasses and enjoy the water of the reservoir from mid July till end October. The elephants usually come out of the surrounding jungle in the cool of the evening and it is indeed one of the most amazing sights to see them trickle out until they form into quite a large herd said to number 400 sometimes. This is a rare opportunity to observe them in the wild and in endearing family groups.

Whether it is viewing elephants or any other wild life, the natural beauty of the park is part of the amazing experience at Minneriya National Park.

Stay at Hotel Sigiriya in the shadow of one of Sri Lanka’s famous cultural sites and in the heart of the dry zone, home to many of the country’s wildlife. This prominent hotel in Sigiriya provides guests with spacious, comfortable accommodation and a host of modern facilities and amenities including relaxing Ayurveda spa treatments that make a stay here enjoyable. Stay at such conveniently located hotels Sigiriya to have unforgettable cultural and nature experiences.

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Minneriya National Park – In the Sri Lankan Wilderness

Declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1938 and then upgraded to a Wildlife Park in 1997, Minneriya National Park houses the historic Minneriya reservoir that dates from the 3rd century CE. During the area’s dry season, the park is a very special place as elephant herds from Matale, Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa districts come to enjoy grazing and quenching their thirst here. Together with two other reservoirs close to the park, Minneriya forms one of Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka.

While the park’s diverse range of large and small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and butterflies is undoubtedly interesting to all nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, the most iconic attraction is the large number of elephants that congregate here, which is known as the ‘ elephant gathering’ and this is globally celebrated as one of the largest gatherings of mammals, specifically Asian Elephants, in the wild. The magnet that sets off this seasonal movement of elephants is the succulent grasses on the dry parts of the reservoir bed and the easy access to water. The ‘gathering’ takes place from mid-July and lasts until end-October, but peaks in August and September. The best time to view the elephants is in the evening when they emerge from the surrounding jungle in little groups that slowly forms a large herd that is sometimes said to number 300. Not only can visitors have a rare sighting of elephants in family groups, but they are also seen at their natural best, gamboling and cavorting in the water.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the park’s other attractions, endemic species such as the purple-faced langur and toque macaque, the Sri Lankan leopard, the Sri Lankan sloth bear, the gray slender loris and many other endangered and endemic species that are the park’s other inhabitants are of interest as well. For fervent birders, the host of large water birds as well as migrants and many residents that are found in and around the Minneriya reservoir makes a visit here truly worthwhile. Flocks of cormorants, pelicans, grey herons and other water birds are busy foraging for food around the water while jungle fowl, parrots, babblers, bulbuls and other endemic varieties favour the forest and scrub areas around the reservoir. Crocodiles, pythons and water monitors are among the reptiles that prey on the animals coming to the reservoir for water. Combined with the natural beauty of the surroundings, viewing the wildlife in the park is truly an exceptional experience.

To discover these and more natural treasures on the island, take advantage of some well-tailored holiday packages Sri Lanka has to offer its visitors for a stimulating and pleasurable travel experience. Shanti Travel Sri Lanka is a renowned travel company, which offers some competitive Sri Lanka tour packages that enable visitors to explore the country’s culture, heritage and the beauty of its landscapes.

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