Famed for its tropical beaches and alluring sunsets, Sri Lanka may not appear to be the bearer of forests and jungles of untamed wildlife. However, the country’s reputation as a tropical vacation hub overshadows its ability to provide some of the best-known safaris.
The Road to a Minneriya Safari
A 17-minute ride is all it takes to reach the Minneriya National Park from hotels like Aliya Resort and Spa. The park is known to be one of the best places on the island to witness the largest elephant gatherings that occur during the months of June to September. Most accommodations in the area offer safari packages to tourists which are inclusive of well-trained drivers to educate them along the way, and it is also about a 20-30 minutes distance from most other Sigiriya hotels in the area.
A Jungle Exploit
While visitors can witness herds of elephants freely roaming out and about, they are not the only wildlife that can be spotted at the Minneriya National Park. The sanctuary is home to a wide array of species ranging from eagles, monkeys and peacocks that can be seen in numbers. The park shelters 24 species of mammals, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 75 species of butterflies and 26 species of fish.
Travelling with Young Ones
A safari at the Minneriya National Park is not one that is catered only for adults but is considered a safe experience for children as well. While older children are likely to appreciate wildlife and the knowledge of their lifestyles, younger ones are more drawn to the thrill of the jeep ride and climbing up the rocks in the park
The Overall Experience
Many travellers have shared positive testimonies of their fabulous experiences at the Minneriya National Park, commenting on the expertise of the drivers and guides that accompany them throughout the journey. This family-friendly safari is certain to be one of education as well as a real-life adventure for adults and children alike.
Your drive begins along winding roads that go up and down on a relatively wide path through the jungles. The trees act as sentinels on either side, varying in shape, size and height. You hear the cry of birds echoing through the leaves. You suddenly catch a glimpse of movement in the foliage and as your jeep rushes by, you spot a monkey swinging unhurriedly on its way. Soon you reach a clearing that opens out onto wide expansive areas of greenery with patches of blue reflecting the clear skies above. And as you head close to the water you see a gathering of blurry shapes of brown or perhaps gray. With each passing moment, the shapes get larger until you finally reach a point where they come into focus; a gathering of elephants, roaming wild and free, oblivious to these visitors. It is a truly awe-inspiring sight and one that will be etched in your mind, reminding you of your Sri Lanka holidays at Minneriya National Park.
One of the best places for an elephant safari, this popular national park and wildlife sanctuary has much to offer in terms of wildlife. Local tour operators such as Jetwing Travels provide exciting excursions to such parks. The best time to visit Minneriya is between July and October when one can witness the spectacular natural event known as ‘The Gathering’. Seeing close to 300 elephants gathered around the Minneriya Tank is truly an experience of a lifetime.
But the park has more to offer than just these gentle giants. On your safari at Minneriya National Park be on the lookout for some of the park’s other animal inhabitants. Spotted deer, toque macaques, sloth bears and the gray slender loris have all found a home here and if you are really lucky you may even spot one of the resident leopards. The park is also a hotspot for bird watching and has a rich avifauna be it endemic or migratory species. The brown-capped babbler, grey heron, little cormorant, Sri Lanka junglefowl and great white pelican have all been sighted here.
Discovering Sri Lanka’s ‘wild side’ is an experience like no other!
Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers. Google+