Ideal duration: 1-2 days
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The Minneriya National Park is in the Northern province of Sri Lanka, four hours away from Colombo, and 30 minutes away from Sigiriya. The national park is famous for its herds of elephants migrating for food, water and shelter, and forming a 'gathering' that can be witnessed by the visitors. The dry season is the best time to visit this place, as the majestic elephants migrate to the Minneriya Tank for water. Apart from elephants, the national park is also home to several mammals, birds, reptiles, and different kinds of plant species. Minneriya National Park comes under the dry zone, meaning, it receives less rainfall compared to the other areas in the country.
The main attraction of this national park is the annual 'Gathering' of herds of elephants. During the dry season, these humongous creatures migrate from warmer to colder lands in search of water. This period is when visitors can book a safari and witness this grand event. Many species of birds and animals that are local to Sri Lanka are seen here. Remember to time your visit correctly, according to your desired attraction. You can book your stay at Sigiriya itself, so travelling to Minneriya gets easier. There are jeeps and guides available at the National Park, to help you roam around. Remember to wear comfortable clothes, and keep the National Park clean.
The Minneriya National Park was first declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. It was then designated as a National Park to conserve the flora and fauna that surrounded the Minneriya Tank. The Minneriya Tank is one of the most important historical elements of the national park. It was built by King Mahasena and derives water from the Amban River, and the Elahera Canal. Usually, during the dry season, animals migrate to Minneriya for water and food. Due to the various plant and animal species thriving in the national park, it has multiple habitats, ranging from wetlands to forests, to scrublands.