Sri Lanka Beach.jpg Logo Srilanka
Back to Listing

Minneriya National Park

Located in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Minneriya’s scenery offers just the kind of respite one might be looking for if suffering from ‘ruin overdose’. The park’s centrepiece is the 300 square hectare water tank, built by King Mahasena in the 3rd century BC, which today attracts herds of wild elephant who gather on the shores to drink and cool off in the thick afternoon heat.

Despite its relatively small size (88.9 square kilometres), the park’s topography lays claim to a diverse range of habitats. The dry tropical forest, lush wetlands, sweeping grasslands and scrub support an incredible variety of wildlife: in the lake itself are mugger (or tank) crocodiles and fish, around it little cormorants, painted storks, herons and large pelicans all fish in the shallow waters, while in the trees hide skinks, red-lipped lizards, trees frogs, hanging parrots, Sri Lankan jungle fowl and grey hornbills. Buffalo, sambar and spotted deer wander through the grasslands, whilst macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys swing from branch to branch in the treetops, amongst an enormous number of birds. Rarely seen, but there nevertheless, are sloth bears, pythons and leopards (the park is home to around twenty leopards). The surrounding evergreen forest is peppered with satinwood, rosewood, halmill and ancient weera trees.

However, the main attraction in this park is the elephants, and Minneriya is one of the best places in the country to see them. From July to October, peaking in August and September, large numbers of these magnificent beasts can be found here. It’s at this time of year when the water elsewhere on the island dries up, and as many as 300 elephants are drawn to the tank’s receding shores which expose new grass and green shoots. This annual event, often called the Great Elephant Gathering, is the largest meeting of Asian elephants anywhere else in the world. Elephants travel from as far away as Trincomalee to drink, bathe and feed on the fresh grass that grows up from the lake, as well as to socialise and search for mates.

The park entrance is located on the Habarana–Polonnaruwa road. The initial 40-minute drive, along a very bumpy dirt road, into the heart of the park is fairly non-descript; the track leads through dense forest and wildlife sightings are rare. But once out of the forest, the magnificent landscape opens up dramatically, with spectacular views across the tank. We recommend visiting early in the morning for bird sightings, and late afternoon for the elephants.

Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (8).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (8).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (6).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (6).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (9).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (9).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (4).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (4).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (2).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (2).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (3).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (3).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (5).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (5).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (1).JPG Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (1).JPG
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (11).jpg Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka (11).jpg
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
Bill Bryson

I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences