Gathering of Asian elephants next to the road in the Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park – Elephants in Sri Lanka

This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 10:21 am


The Minneriya National Park is also called “The Gathering”. In this park you will find the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. Hundreds of elephants come together here. The National Park is located in the north of Sri Lanka in one of the driest places of the island. The elephants are the biggest reason that travelers come here.

 

The 89 square kilometer (34 square miles) park is an ideal place for elephants. You will find many bushes, forests, swamps, and open plains. In addition to elephants, you will find many more animals here, most of which belong to endangered species. You will also find deer, monkeys, crocodiles, and leopards although the latter are very rarely seen.

 

Elephant Spotting in Minneriya National Park

This park is one of the best places to see wild Asian elephants along with Udawalawe National Park. You have the best chance of seeing the elephants at the Minneriya Tank. This landscaped water reservoir attracts many elephants during the year.

 

Here many animals come together to feed and wash. Because of this, the park has also been nicknamed the “the Gathering“.

 

Elephants close to the safari car
The elephants are very peaceful and you can get pretty close to them

 

Which Animals Can You See Here?

The 89 square kilometer park is an ideal place for elephants, but also for many other animal species. You will find many bushes, forests, swamps, and open plains.

 

One of the things that make the park so special is the many different living environments you can find there.

 

In addition to elephants, you will find many more animals here, most of which belong to endangered species. You will also find deer, monkeys, crocodiles, and leopards, although the latter is very rarely seen.

 

You can also see many different bird species in the park such as; storks, herons, and pelicans.

 

The reason that many elephants are here is that Minneriya National Park is part of a route that the elephants take between the National Park and Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa National Park. In August and September, you will find most elephants here.

 

The best time to spot elephants here is in the dry season which runs from May to September. By that time, most of the water will be gone and a lot of grass will be released for animals to graze.

 

A shy little Indian gray mongoose sitting in the forest
A shy little Indian gray mongoose

 

TIP – Have a look at our Sri Lanka highlights page. You will find a lot of extra information here. The Sri Lanka travel information page is full of information about this beautiful country.

 

Visiting the Minneriya National Park

The park is easy to access as it is only a 10-minute drive from the town of Habarana. In addition to Habarana; Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Kandalama are also located near the park.

 

From these cities, you can easily reach the park where you can book a safari.

 

You can book a safari at the visitor center at the beginning of the park or at your accommodation in Habarana, Dambulla, Sigiriya or Kandalama. You can choose between a morning or an afternoon safari in the park.

 

It is recommended to book the afternoon safari because you are more likely to see large numbers of elephants here.

 

More information about the safaris can be found on the park’s website.

 

View of a lagoon in the Minneriya National Park
View of a lagoon in the Minneriya National Park

 

How to Get to the Minneriya National Park

As mentioned earlier, Minneriya National Park is easily accessible from the cities; Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandalama, and Habarana. The city of Dambulla is easily accessible by various trains and buses from all over the country.

 

From here there are several buses to Habarana every day. You can also take a tuk-tuk or arrange the tour from Dambulla.

 

The safaris have a pick-up service that runs in the above cities.

 

Accommodation Near the Park

You can easily reach Minneriya National Park from these places; Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandalama, and Habarana. There is plenty of accommodation in these popular places in Sri Lanka.

 

You will find accommodations of all types in the above-mentioned cities. However, most travelers will stay in Habarana, as this city is closest to the park.

 

TIP – Book your accommodation in Habarana here.

 

Best Time to Visit the Minneriya National Park

The best time to visit the Minneriya National Park is from May to September in the dry season. In these months you have the best chance to spot many elephants in the park. There is not much water to be found at that time, so the animals are attracted to the remaining water in the Minneriya Tank.

 

The best time to spot elephants here is in the dry season which runs from May to September.

 

The best time to visit the Minneriya National Park is not equal to the rest of Sri Lanka. You can find more information about the different parts of Sri Lanka here.

 

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