|Main attraction||Large herds of Elephants, Deer, Wild boar, Bear, Birds and Fish|
Situated 182 km from Colombo, Minneriya National Park is dominated by the Minneriya tank. This is another park where you will find the Elephants in large numbers.
Located west of Polonnaruwa (20km), in the Polonnaruwa district and North Central Province, roads make up most of the boundaries of the park. They are the Habarana-Polonnaruwa highway, the Sigiriya-Moragaswewe road and the Kalukehiyawa-Diyabeduma road. The land area is well over 8889 hectares. The Minnerya tank built by King Mahasen in the third century AD with a capacity of 22,500 ha when full, and a catchment area of 24,000 ha, is within the borders of the park. The Elahera channel carries water from a divert of the Amban ganga to feed the tank.
The park which is encountered on the way to the cultural triangle was declared a sanctuary on July 29, 1938 and upgraded to a national park on August 12, 1997.
The fine vegetation to be found at Minneriya include weera, palu, milla, burutha, kone, beli, halmilla manilkaru, kalumederiya and rukurum. Eraminiya, cactus, keppetiya, wara, kaluuna and nidikumba grow in the abandoned chenas.
You can find 24 species of mammals in the park. It is estimated that around 200-300 elephants call the park their home. There are also leopards, bears, deer, wild boar and many others. The park is also home to magnificent birds such as parrots, selalihiniyas jungle fowl, peacocks, weaverbirds, hanging parrots, babblers, barbets, and bulbuls. Water fowl, pelican, cormorant, stork, crane and many other species of water birds reside in the tank, as do 26 different species of fish and the ever hungry crocodiles.
The entrance to the park is about 6 km from the Habarana. Ideal time to see the Elephants in park is the early morning before sunrise and late in evening. As all other animals they tend to move towards shady areas way from the jeep tracks. when the sun is up and The park opens at 6 am. It is best to be at the gate by this time.
You can hire a safari jeep from Habarana, Polonnaruwa or at the gate. They cost around Rs3500/- per half day and Rs 6000/- for full day. Vans are also allowed in to the park. They can travel on almost all the tracks on the dry season. But if you have a 4WD jeep you can go to the dried up lake bed during the dry season. This is where you will find most of the animals. Herds as large as 100 animals is not a rare sight in the dry season. A permit is required from the Ambagaswewa Wildlife Conservation Office (about 6 km from Habarana), to enter the Minneriya National Park.
There are no bungalows inside the Minneriya National Park. You will have stay either in Habarana or in Polonnaruwa. Some good star class hotels can be found in Habarana and Girithale.
You can also see elephants on the Habarana Road (Road connecting Habarana and Polonnaruwa) itself if you travel along this road after 6.30. Herds of elephants come to the road after dark. They are quite used to vehicles but sometimes get annoyed by the head lights.
Map of Minneriya National Park
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Travel Directions to Minneriya National Park
The park can be reached through Dambulla and is approximately 200km from Colombo. If you are traveling from Colombo You will have to reach Kurunegala through Kandy Road or Negambo Road. From Kurunegala take the Dambulla – Habarana Road. From the Habarana junction turn right towards Minneriya.
Route from Colombo to Minneriya National Park Ticketing Office and Entrance
|Through : Ja-Ela – Kurunegala – Dambulla – Habarana|
Distance : 200 km
Travel time : 4 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map