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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 14, 2021
Headline for Things to know about Minneriya Safari – A joyful few hours in the wilderness
Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to know about Minneriya Safari – A joyful few hours in the wilderness

Sri Lanka has a number of national parks. Minneriya National Park, for example, is home to the largest herd of elephants in the country. A safari to this wonderful sanctuary is bound to be joyous.


Minneriya National Park

Located in the northern region of the country, Minneriya National Park is a protected area. It was proclaimed a wildlife sanctuary in the late 1930s. One of the notable features of the park is Minneriya Tank which was built in the third century by King Mahasen; the locals have attributed a superstitious quality to the tank. This part of the country becomes a feeding ground during the dry months. The dry season is when the park receives the highest number of tourists. As a result, Sigiriya hotels, the likes of Aliya Resort, for example, tend to sell out pretty quickly.


Reasons for choosing a Sri Lankan safari

Sri Lanka has 14 national parks with rich biodiversity and a range of wildlife species. The parks are home to around 90 mammal species, 240 butterfly species and 107 marine species. This makes Sri Lanka one of the best places for wildlife safaris. Leopards, sloth bears, blue whales and elephants constitute the Big Four that draws tourists to the country; Sri Lanka has the largest number of elephants in all of Asia.


Best time to visit

The park is known for the event called The Gathering. This is when a large herd of elephants gather near the tank for water. This takes place during the dry season that runs from July to September. Adjacent to Minneriya National Park is Kaudulla National Park; the parks are connected by a forested tract; the elephants travel between the parks. These creatures are most active in the late afternoon. Safari tour operators time the tours well to give tourists the best possible experience. In the morning, you'll be taken on a village tour. This will offer you insight into Sri Lankan village life; if you are lucky, you might also be invited for a traditional lunch by the villagers.


Getting Minneriya Park

The distance between Minneriya and Colombo, the country's capital, is 180 kilometres. Hiring a car is the smart thing to do. It will cost you a little more than you'd like, but the journey will be comfortable, and you'll be able to get to the park in five hours. You also have the option of joining a tour, which is the budget option.


The cost

The entrance fee for an adult tourist is 15 USD, but that's not the only cost. You also need to account for service fees, transport cost and accommodation cost. You can visit the park on your own, but you still need to hire a jeep, so a safari tour is the best option. Your hotel or a tour agent can help you in booking a safari tour.


What to pack

You will need a good camera to capture the wildlife. While it's not necessary, you can have a better experience with binoculars, especially when it comes to birdwatching. The climate is pretty harsh, and you definitely need sunscreen; sunglasses are a must too. While you can wear anything you like, it would be best if you could pack some clothes that blend in with the wilderness; dark green and brown are some of the colour choices you should consider.


Other national parks

Sri Lanka has many national parks that you can visit. Kaudulla National Park, Wasgamuwa National Park, Bundala National Park and Udwalawe National Park are a few places worth visiting.