It is no secret that Sri Lanka is home to rich biodiversity. Despite its land extent, the country is trendy for its national parks. There are lots of incredible wildlife experiences confined in these ecosystems. Of course, Minneriya National Park is the very essence of this undeniable beauty. The park is set in the heart of an important cultural and geographical region. The history of this area dates back to several centuries. In 1938, the government of Sri Lanka declared this as a wildlife sanctuary. Currently, the park is governed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka. Later, it became a national park on 12 August 1997. If you are a nature lover, this national park is an ideal place to visit.
About Minneriya National Park
When considering the location of the Minneriya National Park, of course, it is in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area is the dry zone of the country. The park expands through Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. The park is world-renowned as one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of the country. The Park covers an extent of 8,890 hectares.
Minneriya tank is an important historical attribute of the area. King Mahasen built the tank in the third century AD. The diversion of the Amban River and Elahera canal provides a continuous water supply to the tank. The Minneriya National Park is located in a vital area. The UNESCO world heritage site of Polonnaruwa is just 20km away from the park. Habarana and Sigiriya are also located close by, offering a perfect combination of cultural and wildlife experiences.
Physical features of the Minneriya National Park
When considering the topography of the park, it is characterized by low canopy forest and intermediary high canopy secondary forest. The evergreen forest canopy takes away the harshness of the dry zone. The scrub plains, abandoned chenas, grasslands, and rocky outcrops, and wetlands are also frequent elements.
The park shelters a range of trees, plants, and shrubs. Kumbuk, Palu, Neem, and Bodhi trees are commonly found on the Minneriya riverbank. Some trees contribute to the canopy layers, and the ground layer consists of shrubs and bushes. It is common to observe the abandoned Chena cultivations and the scrublands in this area. The eucalyptus and teak cultivations have been established to conserve the forest.
The fauna density of the park is a major focus of wildlife enthusiasts. The collection includes 24 species of mammals. Minneriya National Park is famous for large elephant gatherings. Most tourists consider it a fortune to observe jumbos drink, bathe, jostle and hustle in the river. They prefer to take photographs and observe these giants while making mind-blowing memories.
Other than its symbolic fame of elephants, the park is the home of several mammals. Sri Lankan, Sri Lankan axis deer, endemic purple-faced langur and toque macaque monkeys are some of them.
Park is well known for its impressive bird population of 160 species. Minneriya reservoir is the best place to watch water birds, migrants, and endemic bird species. Some pelican species, Sri Lanka junglefowl, wali kukula, and Sri Lanka hanging parrot: gira maliththa are frequenters in the park; not only for that, but also the park is a habitat for several amphibians, reptiles, fish, and butterflies.
What are the things to do in Minneriya national park?
Safari jeep rides
Park authority provides safari jeep service to observe elephants, other animals, and their habitats. Meanwhile, you can take great photographs and experience amazing wildlife. The most bewitching experience of the park is its abundant wild elephant population. Minneriya tank can sustain a large herd of about 150-200 elephants. This captivating natural ecosystem is the place where you can see the largest elephant gathering in Asia.
Watch elephant gathering!
The Park is a part of the elephant corridor joining Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa parks. Tourists can see elephants throughout the year. Still, May to October offers the best window for the famous Gathering of wild elephants. Minneriya National Park, the Kaudulla National Park, and the Hurulu Eco Park are situated nearby. Elephants migrate to Kaudulla National Park from October to November. The high rainfall is the foremost reason and they keep moving to Hurulu Eco Park and end their journey.
Bird Watching experience
Early mornings with the sun hitting the riverbanks will be a mind-blowing bird-watching experience. Taking the help of a guide is more effective and fun. You can gather plenty of knowledge, and most tourist guides know exact locations to observe birds. They will stick to the exact path avoiding all the trouble.
If you are not much of a nature lover, you can still enjoy a refreshing vacation. Minneriya National Park does not have accommodation facilities. But tourists can look for a range of affordable and luxury hotels and lodges with incredibly friendly services.
Now there is only one question, How to travel to a location?
The park is situated 182 km away from Colombo.
First thing first!
If you are willing to travel from Colombo to Sigiriya, the drive is approximately 4 hours. It will take only about 30 -40 minutes from Sigiriya to Minneriya National Park. Take the Sigiriya Road and go past Moragaswewa. Then turn At Moragaswewa junction to Maradankadawala-Habarana-Thirukkondaiadimadu Highway. You have to travel on this route for about 6 km, and finally you are at the Minneriya National Park.
You can find the park entrance on the Habarana–Polonnaruwa Road. A visitor center at the entrance sells tickets and provides a brief introduction to the park’s history. After an initial 40 minute ride into the park, you are ready to have a superb experience.
Minneriya National Park is one of the top-notch destinations in Sri Lanka to watch elephants and other animals. It is a place that no nature lover or animal lover can afford to miss. Adding a few trips to the cultural triangle will make the most of a relaxing tour. Spending a little bit of research and planning can help you to avoid the hassle through your journey.
This amazing place is ideal for a family visiting. Or else, you can visit with your friends to enjoy the beauty of this dream destination. But always remember, we should neither touch this glamour nor harm this ethereal ecosystem. So this glory can be exploited by generations to come.
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