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Minneriya National Park, also known as Minneriya Safari Park, is a hotspot for wildlife lovers and families seeking adventure in Sri Lanka. Established in 1997, the park covers a vast area of 8,890 hectares, including the former Minneriya-Giritale Sanctuary and Sigiriya Sanctuary.

Location and Access

Found in the Polonnaruwa district of the North Central Province, Minneriya National Park is positioned at the heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Its fame comes from hosting the spectacular elephant gathering, considered one of Asia’s top wildlife experiences. Additionally, it’s recognized as one of Sri Lanka’s 70 Important Bird Areas (IBA), making it a recommended spot for bird watching tours.

Minneriya National Park: Sri Lanka's Elephant Gathering Marvel

Conservation Significance

The park plays a vital role in the long-term conservation of elephants and associated flora and fauna in Sri Lanka’s dry zone. Surrounded by national parks like Wasgamuwa, Riverine, Flood Plains, Kaudulla, and Somawathiya, it contributes significantly to landscape-scale conservation efforts.


With the main entrance situated next to the Habarana-Polonnaruwa highway, Minneriya is easily reachable. It’s a 4-5 hour drive from Colombo’s main city, making it convenient for tourists. Proximity to cultural attractions such as Polonnaruwa, Habarana, and Sigiriya allows visitors to blend cultural and wildlife experiences in one trip.

Topography and Habitats

The park’s diverse topography includes scrub plains, mixed evergreen forests, rocky outcrops, and marshes, creating varied habitats for a multitude of animals.

Elephant Gathering in Minneriya National Park

Elephant Gathering

During the dry season (June to September), around 300 elephants gather around the old Minneriya water tank—a spectacle listed among the Top Ten wildlife spectacles globally by Lonely Planet. Encountering this amazing live experience is highly recommended for families on wildlife holidays in Sri Lanka.

Wildlife Wonders

  • Majestic Elephants: The park is renowned for its thriving elephant population, providing a rare opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Diverse Fauna: Beyond elephants, Minneriya is a haven for various species, including deer, sloth bears, leopards, crocodiles, and numerous bird species.
  • Safari Adventures: Exploring Minneriya through a safari is the most immersive way to experience its wonders. Knowledgeable guides lead visitors, offering valuable insights into the behavior and habitats of the resident wildlife.
Minneriya Tank

Minneriya Tank

At the heart of the park lies the historic Minneriya Tank, dating back to the third century. This vast water body not only sustains the park’s inhabitants but also provides a stunning backdrop for wildlife enthusiasts. The tank attracts a myriad of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

Best Time to Visit

The optimal time to witness Minneriya’s magic is during the dry season, from June to September, coinciding with the elephant gathering. Clear skies and comfortable temperatures make this period ideal for a safari adventure.

Conservation Efforts

Minneriya National Park is not just a tourist destination but a testament to Sri Lanka’s commitment to conservation. Efforts are in place to protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem, ensuring a sustainable future for its diverse wildlife. Tourists are encouraged to adhere to responsible tourism practices, respecting the park’s rules and guidelines.

Leopard in Minneriya Naitonal Park

Local Culture and Cuisine

Visiting Minneriya Park offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in local culture and savor traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. Nearby villages provide a glimpse into rural life, offering warm hospitality and authentic culinary experiences.


In conclusion, Minneriya National Park invites global tourists to discover its enchanting landscapes and vibrant wildlife. Whether captivated by the iconic elephant gathering or eager to explore diverse flora and fauna, every corner of the park tells a unique story of nature’s wonders. As a tour operator, we extend an invitation to embark on a journey into the heart of Minneriya, where the magic of the wild promises an unforgettable adventure amidst Sri Lanka’s natural beauty.

Minneriya National Park Safari

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Visiting Minneriya National Park

01. Is it worth visiting Minneriya National Park during my holiday in Sri Lanka?

Absolutely! Minneriya National Park is easily accessible from the cultural triangle, making it a must-visit. If you stay in Dambulla, Sigiriya, or Habarana for 1-2 nights, it’s highly recommended for an unforgettable wildlife safari experience. For wildlife photography or bird-watching tours, Minneriya is a must-visit.

02. How to get to Minneriya National Park?

From Colombo – Kurunegala – Habarana – Minneriya; it’s a 5-hour journey.

03. When is the best time to visit Minneriya Safari Park?

Minneriya is a year-round safari park, but the prime time is from May to September when you can witness the largest elephant gathering in Asia.

04. How much is the entrance fee for Minneriya National Park?

The current entrance fee is approximately $30 per person. This price can change without prior notice. Additionally, you will need to pay for the safari jeep, and the prices will vary depending on the number of participants.

Birds in Minneriya National Park
05. Can I pay in USD for Minneriya National Park Entrance Fees?

No, you must pay in Sri Lankan Rupees. International currencies are not accepted for park entrance fees.

06. How much is the cost of a safari jeep at Minneriya National Park?

Approximate costs are $40-45 for a half-day safari and $85-90 for a full day. Contact your travel agent for a qualified driver and a smooth safari experience.

07: How many people can fit in one safari jeep at Minneriya National Park?

The jeep can hold six people, but it’s most comfortable with 3-4 people.

The Best Time to visit Minneriya Park
08. Do I get a tracker for my wildlife safari at Minneriya Park?

Yes, the Department of Wildlife provides a wildlife tracker for each jeep free of charge, subject to availability.

09. Do I need to tip the safari jeep driver & tracker?

If you are satisfied with their service, it’s recommended to pay a reasonable tip for the tracker and jeep driver.

10. Which other national parks are recommended for observing elephants in Sri Lanka?

Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe, Bundala, and Wasgamuwa are also excellent safari parks in Sri Lanka for elephants and other wildlife.

11. Am I allowed to walk around the national parks?

No, walking around is not allowed. You must stay inside the jeep unless instructed otherwise by the wildlife tracker.

12. How much in advance should I book Minneriya National Park Safari?

If you’re an individual traveler, no advance booking is needed; you can get the ticket at the entrance gate. For travel through a company, inform them well in advance for reservations.

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