This was a great experience to see elephants in their habitat. Watching the mothers protect their young. These animals are so majestic.
Minneriya National Park is located 182 km away from Colombo in the North Central Plains of Sri Lanka. The major city closest to Minneriya National Park is Polonnaruwa.
Minneriya National Park can be reached off Habarana – Polonnaruwa road. The office and the entrance point of Minneriya National Park is located at Ambagaswewa.
The renovated vast ancient Minneriya Rainwater Reservoir that irrigates the considerable area of the district of Polonnaruwa is the focal point of the Minneriya National Park.
Being part of the elephant corridor which joins up with Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa parks, Minneriya National Parkaffords the opportunity to sight herds of Elephants throughout the year.May to October is the best period to visit Minneriya National Park in view of the famous Gathering of the wild elephants.
Gathering is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During this period herds up to 300 elephants are seen at the 8,890 hectare park within a few square kilometers of the Minneriya Reservoir. In August and September each year during the dry season, wild elephants from the surrounding wilderness in search of food and water, makes their way to the shores of the Minneriya Reservoir adjoining the Minneriya National Park. Huge herd of elephants, sometimes numbering up to 300, converge together within a few square kilometers of the lake. This Elephant Gathering is a thrilling spectacle that would be remembered for rest of the life of all those who were fortunate to witness it.
The vegetation of the park consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, abandoned chena lands, grasslands and wetlands. The open grasslands and old chena lands are dominated by the many species of small shrub.
The abandoned chenas are dominated by kukuruman (Randia dumetorum), keppettia (Croton sp.) wara (Calotropis Gigantea) and grasses i.e. katu-una (Bambusa bambos), wali indi (Phonenix zeylanica), illuk (Imerata Cylindirca) and pohon (Panicum Maximum).
The phytoplankton is dominated by Microcystis and Melosira.Among the large trees are palu (Manilkara Hexandra), Satin (Chloroxylon Swietenia), milla (Vitex Altissima), Kalumediriya (Diospyros Quaesita), halmilla (Berrya Cordifolia), weera (Drypets Sepiaria).
Among the 24 species of mammals resident in the park are Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Wild Buffalo, Wild Pig, Grey Langers, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, three species of Mongoose, Porcupine & Indian Pangolin.
Minneriya National Park has recorded over 170 species of birds. From Migrating waders like Woodsand Piper, Common Sandpiper & Kentish Plovers to forest birds like Malabar-pied Hornbills, Rufus Woodpecker the globally endangered Lesser Adjutant and the endemics Sri Lanka Grey Horn-bill, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Brown-capped Babbler and Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl are some of the highlights.
Among the nine species of Amphibians at Minneriya National Park are the endemic and endangered Slender Wood Frog and the Common Tree Frog. Of the 25 species of reptiles recorded in the park 8 are endemic including the Red-lipped Lizard. Water and Land Monitors are also seen here. The Mugger Crocodile can be seen near the tank. Many species of fresh water fish are found in the Minneriya reservoir.
Recommended review time for sightseeing: 4 h
This was a great experience to see elephants in their habitat. Watching the mothers protect their young. These animals are so majestic.
Since it had rained a couple of days ago, there was a big heard of elephants near the tank. Also plenty of birds
Helpful and informative driver. Extensive grounds with a variety of wildlife, although mostly elephants. A great way to get up close to wild elephants, providing fabulous photo opportunities.
We were unsure about the ethics of seeing elephants in Sri Lanka because we didn't want to see animals in distress. Our visit to Minneriya was nothing like this. There were lots of elephants and they seemed undisturbed by the arrival of the jeeps. The jeeps did not stay too long with each elephant, they moved on after 5 minutes and left them, in peace. It was a real delight to see these beautiful, majestic animals in the wild. I can recommend this place if you are concerned about animal welfare.
This park is located in Minnesota which between Polanaruwa and Habrana. You can take a jeep safari through the park and watch varieties of animals including elephants. Make sure to take the tour in the afternoon as the animals will come to drink at the lake. It cost Lkr 3000 about $21.00 per person if you're a foreign national. You can hire a safari jeep with the driver for $21 and make sure to bargain with the driver to get the price down to $21 which is Lkr 3000.
We had a late afternoon tour of this park. Our hotel pickup was at 3:30 and the safari lasted about two hours. We saw very many elephant of all sizes. The baby elephant were fun to see.
We went to both Minneriya and Yala National park. If you go for elephants, this is the place you should go to. Despite we saw less than 10 in Minneriya, the number were much higher than Yala. On our way back to the resort, we saw group of elephants crossing the road. Lovely!
Not perhaps as impressive as Yala but we saw plenty of elephants even if the variety of animals was not as good as other parks. Had a wonderful trek though and have great memories of our informative and friendly guide
I visited only a part of this big national park, mostly looking for Sri Lankan elephants! it was a wonderful experience to see so may elephants, but also a nice landscapes and a very well preserves áreas.
it is absolutely reccomended to visit if you are close to the área
Great experience in an open top jeep driving around some beautiful Sri Lankan country side but if your hoping to see anything apart from elephant's this safari isn't for you but if its up close to some amazing wild elephants jump in and go for the ride.
I have been to Minneriya several times. This is a great place to photograph elephants at close range. The safaris traverse rough roads so be prepared. You get a lot of time for photography, so bring your telephoto lenses.
The 'jeep safari' was part of our guided tour of Sri Lanka. Our driver joined the jeep driver, Hamid, in the front of the jeep. My husband and I climbed into the back.
The drive was very uncomfortable because if we sat down we couldn't see anything as the bench seats were facing inwards.
And so we stood, with our backs bouncing against the bars in the jeep. I burned my elbow on the side panel of the jeep, and hurt my back as we 'bounced' over rough terrain.
We saw a few elephants including a baby elephant with its mother on one side and father on the other protecting it. Lovely.
We started to leave to visit this park 2.30 p.m. DJ Travels had arrange a safari jeep for us and we bought government ticket extra to enter this place. When we going to few meters inside could see small animals around the area. After 45 Minutes we came to Lake side it was greenery grace ground. we stopped on the this ground for few minutes until elephants come to drink water by the Lake. While we waiting could see many of birds , peacocks and mongoose. The place where we stopped in one side jungle and other lake fill with water. In the evening this scenery made us happy. When it was around 4.30 p.m. elephants start to arrive to lake and drink water. You must see this can enjoy and make photos as life time experience.
We took a jeep ride in the afternoon with the purpose of seeing elephants in the wild. There were samba deers, monkeys at a distant and lots of water birds.
Elephants seemed to be in hiding. The landscape seemed to vary between dry land, wet land and forrest with some very old trees such as rosewood. We switched the jeep engine off to listen to the birds only to hear the sound of other jeeps. Just before we were leaving we saw a herd of elephants at a distant and a lonely male elephant.
Came away with the feeling that the tour here can be disappointing and costly if you choose the wrong time of the day - late afternoons are said to be better but the sun sets quickly: we were also told September/October months are better to see more elephants as they gather by the Minneria Tank.
Sadly, the number of jeeps racing closer to the animals and the fumes they create seems to scare the animals away.
We took a jeep safari in jeeps with apparently no suspension, and with seats for 6 facing inwards, so that the only way to see anything was to stand up and hold onto the crossbars which spanned the roof. I bruised a rib when it suddenly moved off when I was standing up. Driver gave no commentary. We saw very little wildlife, and when we did encounter a small group of elephants with young another 8-10 vehicles, all belching diesel fumes, converged on the spot.Probably my worst 'safari' experience!
Had an amazing time at Minneriya Park. Our tour guide Callum was so lovely, he can spot any little animal so got to see a large range of animals. The elephants were adorable, there are so many there too it was really impressive. Do go it's well worth the money.
I didn't know what to expect coming here as this was my first time in any reserve. I just wanted to see animals in their own world during their own thing with no one messing with them or beating them to do what we want them to do. So I figured I would see different animals wandering around, but I was wrong. I was told the evening was the best time to go because that's when the animals came out to eat. Fine, they talked me into it. I was happy I was in a jeep by myself along with my driver. The ride to the reserve is very uncomfortable and bumpy. I stood up the whole time. The ride seemed to take forever and I didn't see not one animal. About an hour later we spotted an elephant and I got a little excited but that was it for another half hour. Then we followed a group of jeeps to a spot and that's when I started to see them. I was so pissed off that I paid for this trip because I began to realize that this was all bad. The elephants don't like to be bothered, but I couldn't contain my excitement as I saw the elephants appear one by one. The sun was setting but not fast. I sort of blocked out the fact that there were at least 20 jeeps of people around and just gazed at these wonderful animals in their own world. Seeing the baby elephant was the highlight of me being there. After taking a few pics and just watching the elephants do what they do we headed back. That was enough for me, but all I kept thinking was that's it for the price? I probably would have paid a million dollars to have been the only person there. I forgot about the price and managed to smile at just seeing elephants because I love them so much.
I have mixed feelings about this trip and don't really know if I would recommend it to people. I hate that the jeeps scare the elephants and get in the way of them living their lives for a few dollars and pictures, but I can say when I think of the overall experience, it was pretty good.
As part of our tour we had a trip through the park just before sunset. It was first class and although there were a lot of jeeps our driver did well to navigate to the places where we saw a lot of elephants. Great photo shots and brilliant experience. Although we must have seen nearly 50 elephants we were told of the previous day where there were only 4 or 5 to see. Maybe just a bit of luck required.
A great experience though due to the location of the elephants we were not in an area with such a diverse range of animal life - hence we saw many elephant but no boars / deer.
This trip would be a struggle for some, as all jeep (and the majority are 40 ish year old jeeps) trips in Sri-Lanka. The vehicles are very utilitarian and while there's a sense of freedom in being driven around while standing on the back peering over the cab, there's also a sense of the exposure to risk which is legislated out of western life (seat belts etc.) and you should expect the occasional knock.
Nature and all green is so calming and relaxing, we saw gecko's and a lot of beautiful birds. At first we saw one elephant and then it took us 2 hours to find 3 elephants (including a baby) was amazing to see how they worked around protecting the baby and making sure its safe from all the people.
And then after almost 3 and half hours when we were giving up we came across an area full of so many elephants all sizes, it was beautiful by all means.
Our Driver was good however, he asked for SR7500 as he said the 2 hour is SR4500 but the 4 hours with elephants guaranteed SR7500. I think he cheated me but considering that we enjoyed the experience we let it go.
It was annoying to see how we as human beings are so annoying, with the jeeps getting closer to them, disrupting them so we'd have the best pictures and enjoy the experience and all the terror that we must have caused the mom.
Do not take a safari drive through this park. On our visit there were scores of jeeps bumping along the track looking for elephants. Yes we found a herd of elephants but there was a traffic jam of twenty to thirty jeeps surrounding them! Apart from that you see a couple of birds and a tree growing out of a rock. A complete waste of time and money. And the driver demanded a tip!!
During our visit there wasn't a lot to see, no elephants ( they had 'moved' to the Eco-park) and very few birds. The jeep drive and the guide were excellent.
Had a fab driver who managed to circumnavigate the other jeeps (of which there are many) and always get us a great view of the elephants - we saw 50+, so adorable. He was also excellent at spotting other wildlife like birds and lizards, which we would never have seen if he hadn't pointed out. Fab experience
Will not be able to see many elephants these days. But will be able to see few other animals if you go early in the morning. Will be able to see a great view of the Minneriya wewa in the morning with lot of birds.
I think our guide was really good and experienced. We saw many elephants nearly 50 and he managed to keep our jeep stopped in between elephants, so that we could observe them eating, feeding the babies, and when they started stepping towards us, we started the engines and kept going. It could be dangerous too as from everywhere they could come and we were in the middle, but everybody in the jeep was informed and we kept an eye in every side and made sure we had one way to drive.
Go when you are told to! The elephants have a routine. We saw 22. Another group set off too late and saw none.
It is a poor imitation of an African safari but the bird life was the highlight. We saw among others fine crested eagles and a beautiful bee-eater.
An absolutely fantastic experience- we saw loads of elephants including babies! A memory I will never forget!
Our tour guide added a safari to Minneriya National Park on the second aftergnoon of our holiday. I was going to take a miss because we already planned a safari later in the week in Yala National Park. Our guide assured us that we would see more elephants in Minneriya than in Yala. Now having done both, our guide was correct. We we saw more wildlife overall in Yala, we saw more elephants in Minneriya. Without a doubt it is a thrill seeing elephants in the wild. We were able to get fairly close to a group off the beaten track in the jeep. It set an adventurous tone to the start of our trip. Mind you, this safari is not for the faint in heart. The road is bumpy and dusty and hot! Unfortunately I had a sour stomach from filtered water (not bottled - what was I thinking??) that I drank at breakfast. However I bit the bullet and went anyway not wanting to miss out. Now looking at my beautiful photos I am so glad I did!
We made a jeep safari in this park. We also visited the National park in Udawalawe and there were more animals to see. Here you could only see elephants,
Minneriya National Park was officially designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. Having been declared as a national park in 1997 to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area, the park is significant for its principal attraction of elephants. Having been built by King Mahasen in the 3rd century AD the tank is of great importance.
Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, in the North Central province, Minneriya is called a dry season feeding ground for the elephants dwelling in the forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee.
Minneriya forming a part of the elephant corridor to joins up with Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa national parks, outsized numbers of animals can be found here at certain times of the year during the migrations between various parks.
From July to October elephants can be frequently seen where August and September are known to be the peak season crowded with more than 300 elephants when water dries up everywhere else. Minneriya tank is the heavenly for elephants coming in search of water from as far as Trincomalee in dry season and for those in search of water to bathe, feed on the fresh grass that grows up on the lake bed as the waters retreat, to socialize and to search for mates. ‘The Gathering’ is the name given for this annual event and it is also the largest meeting of Asian elephants in the world.
Safaris are arranged in the afternoons since it is the best time to see wild animals in Minneriya including its 170 species of birds, 25 species of reptiles including 8 endemic reptile species and mammals exceeding the number of 20.
If you are keen on wild life in Sri Lanka you cannot afford to miss this place. I keep returning for more and have never tired of this place
Feel very lucky after reading others experience because we had an amazing afternoon. We saw 2 elephants at the start of the safari, then another 3 and so on, finally finishing with over 15 in a group on the return journey. Even our driver was excited! There was about 10 jeeps in total but I think we had the best driver, he was prepared to go off the main track to get us a good view. He explained to us that if we're quiet the elephants would stay close and just get on with eating their food which proved to be the case. Yes it was expensive but I would pay it again in a heart beat. These animals are wild and free, there is little threat of poachers because of the penalties, it was an amazing privilege to experience this. Our drivers name sounded like Callum.
but there is something about seeing so many in the wild. Free and not abused the excitement at seeing so many is well worth this safari. Yes it is organised chaos as there are so many jeeps trying to track them at any one time. We were able to see a variety of birds. This park needs to take a leaf out of some of the parks in South Africa where a limited number of jeeps, at any one time, are allowed into the park, otherwise it will loose its attraction.
We were here at the end of January and that may affect the number of elephants that you see. On the other hand, there is a one lane road through the park so the experience cannot change by much. On the day we went about 30 jeeps lined up and went in a procession through the park. We did see some elephants in the distance but what animals will approach a caravan of 30 jeeps? As some others have stated, on the way back to the hotel we saw elephants by the side of the road. We were closer to these than in the park. Cannot recommend this experience.
The time when we went was continuously raining nevertheless it was very nice to see some elephants (wild) really close.
So really worth to see these beasts
Organised chaos! Bit of a wait to get tickets but we must have had one of the best drivers available.
It was wet and muddy so we knew what to expect and weren't disappointed. It took a while to spot the first few elephants but eventually a herd of about 10 came out of the rain forest and ALL hell broke out. About a dozen jeeps came from all directions and slithered to a halt. The elephants were great but the jeeps were a nightmare, drivers spewing mud everywhere and getting further stuck deeper in the sludge!
Our driver seemed to be the only one with a semblance of sense trying to sort the mess out.
We enjoyed the afternoon immensely, not sure all the other sightseers did?
Visited the national park twice. Avoid the rainy season since the elephants wont come out to the lake if the water sources are full inside the jungle. You can get safari jeeps from most of the hotels you stay. Get ready to spent at least 1-2 hours at the National Park.
This was the best experience in our trip, as we loved being out in the wild and seeing the elephants in their natural environment.
The guides were also very helpful and well informed.
Make sure to go in the high season (summer time I guess) as we went in December and could only see a few elephants and other animals.
The man who owned the B&B we stayed in recommended this place (and for a fee including the rooms, he drove us around here in his own car!) It started off a little slow and we didnt really see much until the end of our time when we finally saw some elephants. However, several other cars pulled up and the elephants started to wander off. Later on we found some near the water. Not much else to see other, so if you're wanting to see other animals don't come here as this is mainly for elephants! We actually saw an elephant at the side of the road which we managed to get closer to than in here!
We say 20-25 elephants and babies too. Nice green park with good views. Enjoyed afternoon 3 hrs safari ride. Costed us $100 including everything for 3 of us. Hotel arranged this.
What an experience going in a open jeep in in the late afternoon to find Elephants. And we saw plenty, our driver was very good and was able to get up close to them before the heavens again opened up and rain streamed down on our jeep. Our driver knew exactly where to go and what to look for even in the rain. What an adventure for all ages. A must see experience in Sri Lanka. Just remember to take a rain coat, sun hat and a camera.
Going on safari is always great, even though in this case there were only few elephants and a lot of cars.
Great place to see elephants. The jeeps work as a team to locate the elephants so the chances are good to see them. We saw over 30 elephants on our trip plus a baby one who was only three days old.
I was there on a rainy day, but we had the chance to see some wild animals and some birds. The only things that i didn't like is that the place was too crowded
Though this national park's entrance fee is very expensive, it is possible to see elephants from the road along the park.
We hadn't intended to take a safari here, but did anyway. The roads were terrible after the recent rain, but in my experience that's quite normal for safari parks. We saw a few elephants. some monkeys and some birds and lizards. I don't think I would do it again.
Our guide suggested that we visit this national park to see wild elephants and we are so glad we did, we were a bit concerned when for the first half an hour all we looked at was two lizards but when we did get to see the elephants they were amazing! The guide advised us that there weren't as many as in passed years due to flooding in the area and the elephants moving to drier area's in land as the herd used to be two hundred strong but there was still plenty to see. Would definitely recommend this.
Minneriya is projected as much more than it actually is. You see a herd(s) of elephants munching away at the grass, cleaning it before eating, which is an interesting experience. But not much else, given the high entrance and jeep fee (we paid about $100 for two people). The place is usually overcrowded with jeeps and overall is an average experience.
We hired a jeep safari into Minneriya National Park to go see the elephants. It seemed highly overrated for the day we went.... There were about 100 elephants in all, and 150 jeeps all crowding into the area, and it seemed like we were in a zoo, the only difference being that the animals seemed to be free. Wasn't too great...
We took a trip to Minneryia as part of our Trailfinders tour whilst staying in Habarana. Our guide organised our jeep which we had to ourselves, but advised (as the guidebooks do) to pay the driver a tip. The usual amount is 500rps per jeep so about £2.50.
We went in the afternoon really hoping to see elephants as we had seen some in the park from the road earlier that day.
We saw lots of monkeys, lizards and birds but sadly there were an awful lot of jeeps and the elephants were quite rightly hiding.
Our driver tried very hard to find elephants and in doing so we managed to get stuck which was quite an experience! In the return journey in our rescue vehicle we saw a group of elephants in the twilight which was magical.
Much preferred this experience to the thought of seeing elephants being exploited at Pinnewala and it was a surprise and a pleasure to see elephants at the end of our trip.
We were hoping to see herds of elephants as promised by everyone we spoke to and also from what we read beforehand. Unfortunately in a visit lasting more than 3 hours we saw a total of 2 peacocks, some deer, an owl, lots of birds and, only when it got dark, 4 elephants disappearing into the jungle. It turns out that with all the rain the tanks had flooded completely which led to the elephants migrating over to the other(non accessible ) side of the park. Of course this is the unpredictable nature of safaris and no one is to blame, but just be warned to check the season you are going in. There is a 40 minute journey into the park on an extremely rough dirt road which will shake you about a lot. On this particular stretch don't expect to see much other than birdlife.
Not so much a safari as a whizz around in a Jeep looking at trees and a few elephants, but it's quite fun. You go on one jungle track for 45mins, then turn around and go home. V pretty lake. Saw lots of elephants, but not much else. Quiet - we were the only ones in the entire park. Expensive - in total it was around $100 for 2 people/ £75, which was a little painful.
We were warned by family members that we may not see any elephants at this time of year and sadly it was true. The jeep ride was quite fun though and our 3 and 1 year old were quite alright throughout the journey
Yet again timing is important when you travel to a wildlife park. I some months elephants in here migrated to near by kaudulla park. when it is good it one of the best.
this is a good place an very attracting animals ,birds,very looking for the park really success tour
we did safari in minneriya national park November 30th . it is best place to see elephant in sri lanka we took jeep form sanjaya. his from habarana. and his provided good service us with luxury jeep and 3 hours one day safari' we did safari in the park. sanjaya is provided camera also to take picture. we are recommed to select to do the safari in minneriya adn kaudulla '
The highlight of 3 week trip around Sri Lanka, jeep parked mere metres away from herds of elephants, far more satisfying and magical than the engineered elephant "sanctuaries"
This park is all about the elephants - generally they will be located eating grass near the lake if they are out of the jungle. We saw about 80 - ranging in age from 2 weeks to decades old. They were about 150 metres away in the herd and spent hours grazing. You may see some water buffalo, you will see peacocks/hens and water birds. You may see jackals and crocodiles. But the standout is the imprssive 200 strong herd of elephants - while many will stick in the main group some will wander off and look at you as they pass by some may even decide to take a shower. Top elephant watching experience not to be missed.
We travelled to this park to see elephants, which we did see. We also expected to see other wildlife but there was very little else visible.
Transport within the park is mainly on small pick-ups with inward facing bench seats along the back which we bounced along on trying to pear out from under the rain cover. When we found a family group of elephants the pick up took us to 20 feet of them which as they had young caused the adults to try and protect the youngest elephants. around this group there were 20 pick up all with their engines going and some revving their engines to try to get through the wet ground as their tyres were pretty bald. We asked to be taken away to see other wildlife as we were so concerned at the experience.
As part of the entrance we had to take a guide - he contributed virtually nothing, the driver had a much better grasp of what there was to see and what it was called. The roads in the park were poor with little being spent on infrastructure - I understand the Government takes the Park admission money. My impression was that if they do not spend on proper organisation and infrastructure, they will have no resource to attract tourists to.
We loved this place. The elephants roam freely, no chains, no riding, no feeding they are totally wild. It was amazing. There's a very bumpy but exhilarating jeep ride out to the park and then you sit and watch the elephants. We went at the end of the day and saw so many mothers and calves, then our driver took us a little way out and we saw a loan male. We found the drivers to be respectful and the visitors too. Fantastic. Made our trip.
We have been told this pace to be away about ten km from Dambulla and accepted the round trip offer from a tuktuk driver for really not too much money. He took us all the 45km each way, directly into the park as there is a public road going through it. We were lucky enough to spot few elephants directly next to our road, along with a elephant family having a small elephant in their middle. Later on seeing a hoard if elephants from far distance in the grasslands and being shocked by how many jeeps are in their territory to spot them and take tourists very close to the elephants. We felt much better far away in our tuktuk and had breathtaking moments watching the wildness. Thumbs up, though not in a jeep.
Beautifully maintained park, although of course you cannot expect highways through a natural resort! We watched peacocks, buffalos, birds and elephants and we were even chased by an angry mother-elephant. She thought we were too close to the baby-elephants perhaps...That was a moment to never forget. The guides and drivers are skilled and experienced. October is not the busiest season and we were about 15 jeeps, I can imagine in high season it gets quite crowded.
I've been to Minneriya park few times. Never regret about the time spent at the park. It was an excellent experience each time.
The Gathering' is the name given to the elephants that assemble on the banks of the Minneriya Reservoir during the dry season. Every evening, between 150 and 200 elephants arrive at the reservoir, mainly to graze the grasses growing on the tank bed. During the drought, the water level drops, revealing a tank bed that allows the grass to grow. The elephants turn to these much needed fodder at a time when foliage in other areas dry up. The Minneriya reservoir also becomes a playground where the elephants can satisfy their water needs. The Gathering peaks in August and September, at the height of the drought. According to wildlife authorities, the Minneriya gathering is the largest grouping of wild Asian elephants at any given time. That The Gathering has gained international recognition as a nature "spectacular" may help in lobbying for keep the Minneriya tank for the elephants The Gathering ranks sixth on the Lonely Planet wildlife spectaculars list.
Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938.
I went there on 15th October. They say it is off season but I was lucky to see a family of elephants. My guide was a real disappointment!!! He didn't know almost anything about the ecology, biology nor the park...he just knew where I should took picture.... Neither his English was acceptable... Absolutely overpriced tour...
Minneriya is another famous national parks in the country and a must visit if you are in Polonnaruwa. Safari's are very good at this place..
We went to this national park with our guide during a 4 day stay in Habarana for our honeymoon. It was a fantastic experience, the elephants are spectacular and we saw many baby elephants and older ones and some with tusks. Our jeep allowed us to stand up which we were fortunate as others didn't have this opportunity so we had a great view for photos too. They give you plenty of opportunities to get plenty photos and take in some of the breath taking sights before moving on to see more. We did catch a glimpse of other wildlife too but of course, the elephants were the main attraction.
Whilst we were stationary for some time, it did get hot, the travelling and the breeze can disguise the temperature so take some water and maybe a hat.
The only downside I can think of with this trip was when it started to rain a heavy downpour and all the jeeps started to turn back and some were getting stuck and travelled together which wasn't ideal and we got very muddy and wet but all part of the experience.
Was reasonably priced and definitely worth a visit!
We had a Safari in the National park. Our driver was good showed us also other animals. Of course the elefants where the highlight of the 3 hours. We were lucky to see two elefant families with two baby´s :)
If you ignore all the hundreds of jeeps and just focus on the magnifiant elephants it is amazing. People are very quiet as they are all focused on the site.We waited a while and all the jeeps left so we found ourselves in a magical position. If you have never seen Elephants in the wild you feel as if you are really on safari.There are lots of wildlife to see also. The terrain is quiet rough but it adds to the experience.
with my last 15 years expeerians this is the best place to see wild eliphant in the forest. this is the national park very cloose to sigiriya. none monsoon peerioude the best time to visite. specialy eveving ( 2pm to 6 pm ). early morning allso very nice. strikly i want tell you something for this national park. .... affter enter this park you cant see every animels. mostly WILD ELIPHANT CAN SEE OVER 70 . some days more 100 elders and 10 to 15 BABY ELIPHANTS allso. you cant go by your car. but you want rent a special safary jeep. if you want to see more pic this place , i am with my cliants in front of wild eliphants groups pls log in my fb.( thushaa siriwardana )
This is the one of the best place i would like to visit with my foreign customers. Because of the place is beautiful. My customers like this place very much. Also the services are given at fair price rate. There are lot of animals to visit. Elephants give most of the enjoyment.
At about hundred elephants we saw there. Best place for elephants. But a half a day Safari is enough to here to see everything.
This was a highlight of our tour. We decided to visit the park instead of the orphanage and it was well worth it. We have been in many safaris before but this was in itself a different experience and was lovely. So many elephants in their natural environment enjoying their lives. A must do if you are in Sri Lanka x
The best time of year to go here is between August and September at the hight of the east coast dry season when you are more or less guaranteed lots of elephant action, we had a slight downpour on the previous evening before our visit and there had been some unseasonably wet weather which could mean a no show by the elephants, if they have enough water in the jungle they tend to stay put. Luckily we were not disappointed and the pachyderms were out in numbers they were happy to wander in and out of the multitudes of jeeps and go about there business as if we were not there, truly magical experience to be that close to such powerful gentle beasts, totaly free and in there natural habitat
there were still large numbers of elephants around they are comfortable and at home
we saw huge amount of elephants near a lake, bathing and playing. Lots of baby elephants, lots of playing.
The driver was getting very close to the elephants, as many other drivers did. At some stage one of the elephant went mad with all the jeeps around him and he actually attacked us.
Apparently there are many incidents with elephants in Sri Lanka,
Unlike South Africa, it seems like the drivers in Sri Lanka do not keep the privacy of the animals and behave as if the park belong to the people and not to the animals. That causes dangerous incidents with the animals.
We did a full day at Minneriya national park. But it s too much. Half a day is enough for here. You can see everything within a half a day. So recommend half a day. Lot s of elephants we saw.
One of the best national parks in the Island with a lot of variety of animals and wonderful sceneries. Get your trip arranged during the dry season.
Our driver went out of his way to point out things of interest such as the chameleon, different birds etc. He attempted to find crocodiles but was unsuccessful on this occasion. The elephants and water buffalo were highly visible however and we were able to get reasonably close to these, seeing elephants of all ages including a week old one. Apparently the time of day that you visit will make a difference to the types of animals that you see. Our visit was early evening and hundreds of elephants were visible.
If it wasn't for the abundance of Elephants it would be a pure West
Midlands Safari Park scenario. So many vehicles, and so many people. Not one I would readily return to.
Please request the drivers not to go near elephants and to view from a distant. Some time you may disturb the gathering of the elephants
Take your family there or enjoy it with a friend! It is am amazing experience to see herds of wild elephants and buffalos.
my first elephant safari in a jeep! interesting visit, and get to observe a lot of elephants in the area, in their own habitat
Our first safari in this beautiful park brought us up close and personal to the elephants. And about 20 other four-wheel drives with tourists.
We saw lots of elephants, an eagle, Water Buffalo, and a few other critters. The driver was good, and helped us to respectfully see the beautiful elephants at a good distance - the babies were very entertaining. Quite good value, given the amount of time we spent near them.
We were here in the off season for the gathering of the elephants, but we booked a safari and were still able to see some great wildlife including elephants, peafowl, monkeys and a number of beautiful birds. This may not be as amazing as some of the other parks I read about, but I quite enjoyed my visit, and I got to see some elephants.
It seemed like all of the safari operators communicated, and once an elephant was spotted it was not uncommon for 9 or 10 other Jeeps to show up to view the elephant. It sort of detracted from the 'intimate' nature experience and made you feel for the animals a bit.
We have visited Minneriya national park at the end of September - starting our safari ride at around 4pm. Be ready for a big queue to enter the park (35jeeps going through the gate at the same time). We paid 10000rs in total, the price included a jeep & park entry fee for 2 of us. We have spotted a lot of buffalos and elephants that day. We saw around 100 elephants in total - babies included. It was beautiful. Such a fantastic experience...3 different herds of elephants at different locations. We were told that we were lucky cause the elephants are moving towards the north of the island by this time. Best time for the visit as I have heard was August. But there was still a lot to see the time when we went there.
The highlight of our two days at Habarana was this park where we were so close to herds of wild elephants in a beautiful grassland clearing with a lake. The elephants were being elephants, eating, bathing, playing, oblivious to the car loads of humans watching them from such proximity. Just heaven.
Had a fantastic experience with large groups of elephants roaming free! Saw at least 100 altogether, with many babies. They did not seem to be troubled by the large number of jeeps.
Enjoyed the experience so much that we went back again the next day.
The park itself was amazing. There were hundreds of elephants who walked very close to the jeeps. Lots of birds and water buffalo around also. If you do a morning safari, you may see other animals also. The entrance fee for jeep, driver, foreigner, service fee and taxes is about 4000 rupees, which is reasonable. However, the rip off is that only jeeps are allowed inside and you have to hire a jeep and driver for 5000 rupees. Amazing to be so close to so many elephants!
We had a very bumpy ride over uneven ground but it was worth the discomfort as we saw around 50 elephants on our safari together with monkeys, birds etc. We got remarkably close to the elephants, a wonderful experience.
This is a must do attraction if you are around Sigiriya. Hundreds of wild elephants, different birds, wild water buffaloes in a huge dried up natural lake during this time of the year.
We were taken into the park in a jeep and the whole trip took about 3 hours. We even got to witness elephants fighting at close range. This is just awesome. Cost us USD120 for 3 person. Totally worth it!
not too expensive. We had our own jeep and saw monkeys, water buffalo, birds, and a herd of elephants.
We saw a few on their own and then drove on a saw a huge herd. Unfortunately they were surrounded by lots of vehicles, but they didn't seem to mind and when they decided to move them walked past the vehicles and trumpeted at us.
They are so peaceful to watch.
Being September it did chuck it down with rain for about an hour, but luckily we'd come to the end of our tour by then.
Only thing I wish was that I had put on a sports bra for the jeep journey!!
We started out at around 2.30pm into the park. The ride is bumpy so do eat light and carry a lot of water. We were lucky to see some deer a few minutes into the drive. Once we did get into the park where the elephants are, it was a sight not to be missed. We happened to see a few jackals as well. the jackals got a bit too close to the young elephants and what resulted was a chase down. We were lucky to witness this spectacle.
Fun for the young and old but gets very bumpy. carry water, caps and do not forget to take a binoculars if you have one as the jeeps are get close but not too close.
Please do not miss this wonderful experience.
superb place to see elephants,,you can see herds of them,up close. again be ready to pay for entry and the jeep.
We saw lots of elephants and buffalos.
It was a very unique experience, but not cheap. We do recommand it!
Two entry tickets + jeep + driver + tracker = 9.000rs. Additionally, I left 500rs tips at the end. The visit lasted about 3 hours.
Jeeps and drivers can be found in Habarana (30-45 mins from Dambulla by bus). I booked mine through the Dignity Villa's owner (in Dambulla), for no added commission fee.
Like everyone else, from Habarana we ventured searching for the elephants. Normally elephants can be found in one of the nearby national parks (Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park, and Habarana Eco Park). Drivers will know where elephants are on the day of your visit.
The park itself is really beautiful, especially near the lake. We saw elephants (different herds, about 30-40 individuals each), and other animals. Not many jeeps on the day, apart from one spot which was quite overcrowded - but the elephants there seem to not care about the tourists.
Overall, it was a good experience.
We went there during Breeding season, its quite easy for you to see at least 50 to 200 elephats
But its also quite easy to be packed with hundreds of jeeps and people
Try to get a real jeeps than a truck, as jeeps can bring you to some places that the teuck cannot... the locals seems does not understand the different between these two vehicles
Hoped to see the Elephant Gathering in July - but too early. There were about 50 elephants to see. As previous reviewers have said, this is no Africa and the jeeps are there to primarily see the elephants so it can get busy but we saw the elephants clearly as well as a lot of birds.
As much as I enjoyed the wildlife in its natural habitat, I feel that the enthusiasm of the drivers to make sure you see as much as possible, may be to the detriment if the animals. We did see monkeys, wild boar, deer, peafowl, and much more. The gathering of the elephants was a joy to behold. Our group was enthralled by the antics of the beasts both large and small. The jeep drivers however left me a little cold as they surrounded the elephants on 3 sides ensuring the only direction they could move in was back to the tree cover behind them. The elephants seemed unconcerned by their audience, although one lone elephant charged the jeep directly in front on mine as we exited the park. It is a lovely way to pass 3 hours but I remain concerned for the well being of all creatures living with the inconvenience of hundreds of jeeps in their environment.
Whilst the whole experience is pretty stage managed with access only by jeeps it still made for a spectacular 2-3 hours. The park is home to allegedly the greatest number of wild elephants on the island split into a number of large family groupings and a number of single roaming males. In late summer they all tend to aggregate near the ancient man made reservoir at the core of the park to swim and play as well as eating the lush growth of grass appearing as the water levels in the lake fall.
We were privileged to see a couple of family groups including the delightful infants during the safari. The only real downside was that it seemed the number of jeeps around the herd was greater than the number of elephants - but it reassuring the popularity of the place is supporting the conservation of the herd.
Plenty of bird life on offer as well - as well as a few cows farmed by the locals living in the park.
I visited this Park in August. As some people have said it is not like an African Safari but then that is the beauty of visiting Minneriya Park. There are lots of Elephants and you have a very good chance of seeing Spotted Deer. There are lots of Birds and the area itself is different. I would say yes to visiting again but in the Moring not Afternoon a I did this time. Good and enjoy.
I have visited Minneriya National Park at one evening on September month. Ideal period to visit Minneriya park is from July to Octomber till rain starts. During dry season elephants come out from the forest and roam at Lake pitch. I was able to watch a herd of Elephants of forty. They were not scared of Safari jeeps.
You can find a jeep at park entrance. It costs about 4500 per a tour in Minneriya park. It is not essential to have a trekker as jeep drivers are knowledgable about elephants. In addition to Elephants you can view peacocks, waterbirds and deers.
The best place to see massive herds of elephants. September (dry season) is the best place to see the,
Very nice park. We saw lot of elephants. Just go there in the morning or before 2PM. Because at 2 PM all the tourists with package trips arrive, and it is very crowed with jeeps and Chinese tourists. We went at 1PM, it was perfect, we were alone during at least 1 hour.
Famous place to watching Wild Elephants, Wonderful place to enjoying with wild and perfect place to move with elephants. you can see them very closely and you can study about them.
Good Knowledgeable park guides available eith Safari Jeeps..
Eco Lovers and Wild Life Lovers..this is a superb place to visit and Im inviting to you all came to Sri Lanka and Feel this unforgettable experience.
My name is Bogdan Muncus and together with my girlfriend we visited Minneriya National Park in September 2015.We saw the largest elephant gathering in Asia! It was unbelievable! This National Park is one of the best in Sri Lanka, you can see lots of elephants, birds, buffalo, deers, monkeys, peacock, hawks etc.In this period, the best time to go is early morning or in the afternoon because the temperature gets cooler and animals come out to drink water from the lakes. You can hire a jeep safari from the entrance of this National Park and start a 3-4 hours of adventure. You should not miss this National Park during your stay in Sri Lanka!
Deborah & Bogdan.
Romania - 16.09.2015.
AMAZING!!!!! Was there in late Aug/early Sept which is the driest time of year so all the elephants were gathering. Saw roughly 200.
Excellent guides spotting the wildlife although difficult to miss the Elephants when at the lake. Unbelievably good standing in a jeep surrounded by them. We thought it was good in a standoff with 4 youngsters across the road but on the way back, in falling light, we were in a 3 way mexican standoff with two Bull Elephants in musk clearly bruising for a fight. Fabulous experience.
Also saw monitor lizards, chameleons, a Crested Hawk Eagle with prey, Sri Lankan Jackals
went on 3.30 pm jeep safari. Such a beauty to see elephants nursing, eating, rolling in mud, spraying water, having a fight all just 4 feet away from you. Experience going through secondary and primary jungle then onto the plains with lake water fowl, ibis, kingfishers, peacocks eagles and so much more.
We had a park guide with us and it was worth it. We would not have had so much joy and seen so many things had we not had the guide. Most groups just had the jeep driver, but pl do take the guide as you see so much more and learn more too. A truly wonderful experience e. Be ready to climb onto the back of the jeep, if mobility a big issue not possible.
Only we could see Elephants & few birds. No other animals. Also visited Dambulla cave temple & Sigiriya.
A less visited and smaller park, a real safari experience. Were able to watch several groups of elephants with only one other jeep.
To see so many wild elephants in one park was just wonderful. We'd been to Yala a few days before and only seen one hiding in the bushes. To see whole families at Minneriya, including lots of babies was amazing! They look so happy. I really recommend going to the elephant gathering if you're in Sri Lanka during August/September. It was the highlight of our trip.
OK - so i am this huge, psychotic elephant fan so you could choose to read my review with a pinch of salt. I was mesmerized with the place, it is a fantastic national park, maintained beautifully - so so so clean! There is a very large population of these amazing elephants in the park. We saw 2-3 big herds and many elephants here and there enjoying themselves. The guides displayed a lot of respect for the animals and did not stray from the path or disturb the animals while they were crossing the tracks. The elephants seemed happy and healthy since they were in their natural surroundings.The safari is for about 3 hours and you get enough time to look at these amazing creatures. If you are an elephant fan - I wouldn't miss it for the world!
We visited Minneriya National Park as part of our honeymoon trip around Sri Lanka. We were advised the best time to visit would be the afternoon and were not disappointed with the wildlife on display.
We were picked up by a jeep from a local restaurant after lunch and taken straight through to the ticket office.
The pricing of the day is ok, we paid a total of 6500rs (£35) which included our entry fee and the use of the tour guide and his vehicle. We were stung with a additional 5000rs charge after drop off at our hotel for "jeep hire". This was miscommunicated as we expected the 6500rs to cover everything.
On entry into the park you travel through a jungle path where it is possible to see monkeys, birds and iguanas. After about 20 minutes you make your way into the open plains surrounding a lake where we greeted by a herd of around 8 elephants. This included a two months old baby elephant splashing about with his mother.
The journey took us around the lake where we saw more elephant herds, some water buffalo and plenty of birds.
Aside from the pricing confusion, the overall experience was marvellous. Seeing these creatures in their natural habitat was awe inspiring - we were 20 feet away from a heavily pregnant mother to be.
This was such a disappointment. Our driver picked us up from our hotel in Sigiriya, drove straight to the park, once in the park we sped along the road with no chance of seeing any wildlife, straight into a traffic jam, and then into the large field where 50+ elephants were grazing. Yes, I came to this park to see elephants but the 60+ jeeps filled with tourists circling around the herd destroyed what should have been a beautiful experience. This felt more like a zoo than a wildlife sanctuary. I have no idea what kind of impact these jeeps are having on these wild animals. They didn't seem to mind too much but they were keeping the very tiny ones close and they seamed to always turn around to make sure they could see them. There were a few jeeps that I thought got way too close and that showed in the animals behaviour. They looked like they were fidgeting and stepping back, swaying their trunks side to side. It just felt wrong; I am upset that my money went into this.
Don't hesitate. Just go. Elephant families including babies, water buffalo in hers and so many beautiful birds
As a tourist coming to the Central - North province you have to visit the National park. Ok it's not cheap because you need a Jeep and entrance fee is not expensive. But it's so beautiful and I know because I am living 2 km from the park .
If you are planning to go for a Elephants safari , Minneriya is the best place to go as there are so much Elephants that you can see
Seeing the elephants in the wild was a truly amazing experience - once in a lifetime. We were able to see 100+ wild elephants.
Whilst i found this experience incredible, it was somewhat ruined by the amount of jeeps 'harassing' the elephants. At times I felt all together uncomfortable at the way the elephants were seemingly chased every time they came into the open (for water). At one point the matriarch elephant charged at an jeep for coming too close.
If there were less jeeps then I would rate this experience as excellent.
The park should endeavour to moderate the amount of jeeps coming into the park e.g ensuring that each jeep is at full capacity to minimise numbers of vehicles or increasing the price and limiting the amount of vehicles entering per day.
Early start, the safari began at 6am-8am.
It was an amazing experience and we got to see tortoises, lizards, snakes, monkeys, lots of birds, deer and buffalo but we only came across 4 elephants which was beautiful but also I had read that people were seeing hundreds and if our driver didn't come with us we would of spent less time there.
The road is very bumpy and a bit muddy so expect to get a little dirty but it was very fun!
We spent Rs 6000 (£30) on entry to the park and then another £30 on safari tour guide. This is quite a good price and what you should expect to pay.
We had the safari arranged from Cinnamon Lodge Habarana and it was great ride with family and friends. We had to travel a long way to see the elephants. We didnt feel the distance during the journey cz we were expecting for elephants and other animals.. We only saw peacocks, cows, egrets, small colorful birds and elephants. It was a beautiful place with a large lake almost like a beach. We took many elfies (with elephants in the background) :)
When coming back we noticed it was a such a long distance we had traveled and our jeep seats with mud. It was a great experience. Loved it!!
The safari expereince
The jeep safari was excellent and we got very close to the elephants. Also saw a buffalo. We went at 230
It was a quite nice experience and we saw at least hundred elephants. Our Jeep driver explained a lot about the animals and the park itself during our stops to watch them. If you want to see the leopard - go in the morning. Elephants can be seen in the afternoon (tour starts around 1pm). Unfortunately the crocodiles only come up when the sun is burning down - it was cloudy when we visited so we didn't get the chance to see them. Also there is no need to get a Jeep for you alone. We met very nice people from around the world on our Jeep.
My daughter and I visited both National Parks with the owner of the guest house in which we were staying. Having been told that during migration you can see hundreds of elephant we could have been disappointed that on both occasions we saw less than a hundred, but we weren't. Being able to sit and observe these wonderful pachyderms in the wild - groups of females with their young and solitary males, grazing quietly on the grass or drinking at the watering hole, trumpeting baby males and juvenile trunk wrestling - it was all very magical.
Be guided by the locals as to which weather conditions favour which location. I know that we were lucky that the dry season allowed us to travel in the open whereas the rainy season makes for a more dangerous adventure in forest.We visited in the afternoon upon local advice.
We were lucky enough to be there in August during the 'gathering'. We hired a jeep and guide and drove in for about 45 minutes to a large lake where we were met by a large heard of buffalo and somewhere in the region of 150 elephant. Absolutely stunning place with elephants in their natural habitat just milling around with their babies. If you go to Sri Lanka in Aug / Sept make sure this park is on your list of places to go,
On the way from Dumbolla to Batticloa, I stopped her and took Safari, they are really good spotting the elephants. We were managed to get close to few. It was really nice experience not much cost. Best value for money. But avoid day times. Either do it in morning or just before sunset.
Tip: Take water and food with you.
This park is worth a visit during the elephant gathering, they are quite friendly. The park itself is beautiful and more enjoyable to visit than Yala in the south. There are many tracks so you do not feel the jeep race of Yala.
If you do one thing while you are in the area, arrange a safari through Minneriya National Park. In August, due to the rains, elephants gather here for the water and to feed on the grass. We got so close, and seeing the gentle giants roaming wild was a very special experience.
We went for the afternoon slot - 3pm-6pm and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The jeep driver had such a good eye, he was able to even spot chameleons in the trees. We saw around 70 elephants throughout the park but mainly by the water. It was truly amazing to see the elephants interacting together naturally, cooling off, playing, fights etc. We also saw crocodiles, water buffaloes, peacocks, monkeys, mongoose, Jekylls plus a range of birds. I would highly recommend this trip.
Interesting activity, lots of fun on the jeep. Not a huge variety of wildlife but was able to see a 4 month old baby elephant, water buffaloes, monkeys and birds.
Went on a jeep safari whilst staying in Habarana and it was a great experience. It was very busy (loads of jeeps) but the animals were not bothered by the people at all.
We saw lots of elephants (including quite a few babies) around the park but mainly by the lake. It was fantastic to see so many wild elephants - truly breathtaking.
We also saw water buffalo, countless types of birds and also monkeys.
The park itself is beautiful and you can easily spend hours enjoying yourself. The 'roads' (dirt tracks) are extremely bumpy, so if you stand up to enjoy the scenery, make sure you hold on tight! (It is great fun though)
We booked our safari through our tour guide who booked it from our hotel (Cinnamon Lodge) and although it was quite pricey, it was worth it.
There are so many elephants near to Minneriya tank and you should be ready to see them at the time they are in that area. So the best time Enter to park would be morning and evening (2.30PM)
We did the afternoon safari starting at 3.30pm. The vehicle came to pick us up from the hotel and drove us to and through the park. We have seen so many elephants, all of them gathering around the lake to drink and eat. Also quite a few of baby elephants. What we didn't like was the sheer amount of jeeps gathering at the very same spot all the time with engines on, making a very noisy, crowded background and spoiling the experience. I am not naive to think that I would be the only one there, but at least turning off the engines and allowing access to other jeeps, would be nice! Elephants didn't look at all disturbed by our presence. Luckily our driver, decided to go a whole different way from the rest of drivers and we ended up with another vehicle alone in the presence of an elephant emerging from the forest and walk to the lake to drink.
Went to Minneriya while nearby at Sigeriya and Polunarewa. $80 U.S. for two admissions and Jeep and driver. 100% worthwhile. We saw three herds of elephants and one lone tusker, probably 50 elephants of all ages within three hours. Add in fish Eagles, king fishers, elegant black beaked Ibis, red legged Skilts and so many peacocks we stopped photographing them. Road in is awful, but it's a game preserve. What fun.
Beautiful park, we really enjoyed it.
Negative thing was that it was really crowded in the afternoon. I not only took pictures of the large groups of elephants but also of the large group of jeeps. Wasn't really sure who looked at who at one point. Price of the jeep was 5000 Lrk and entrance was another 2000 Lrk pp excl tax + service charge, another 2000 Lrk. But it was worth it!