Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka

Maybe endless beaches, ancient ruins or large tea plantations did not convince you to visit Sri Lanka, but how about a safari in a beautiful national park?

Well, even if Sri Lanka is a small island it has one of the densest population of elephants in the world and an impressive number of species living on the island.

There are many national parks around and Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka is one of the best places to spot elephants.

It might be a small park but it is packed with herds of wild elephants and many other wild creatures like buffalo, crocodiles, monkeys and all kind of birds.

A safari in this park is one of the best choices when you travel to Sri Lanka.

Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka
Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park of Sri Lanka
How to get to Minneriya Park

The park is located on the north part of the island at 180 kilometres away from Colombo. Even if the park is not far from the island capital, because of the road and traffic conditions it will take you around 5 to 6 hours to get from one point to another.

Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park visit Sri Lanka
Ultimate guide to visit Sri Lanka
Best time to go to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka

Best time to visit Minneriya is from May to October. This is the period of year famous for its great Gathering of the elephants.

Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka Elephant
Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park of Sri Lanka Elephant
Entrance fee and what to see

Minneriya Park entrance fee is about 15$ per person. To this cost add up the cost of renting a safari jeep. You are not allowed to enter the park unless you are on an authorised safari jeep. The cost for a jeep may vary depending on the season.

The ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka
The ultimate guide to Minneriya NationalPark in Sri Lanka

There are 2 ways of doing a safari:

  1. You will book a safari jeep with a driver and separate you will buy the entrance tickets by yourself to visit Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka or
  2. You will book a tour which picks you up from your hotel and drops you at the door of the hotel, too. You have everything included, the safari car, the driver, the entrance ticket… everything! The cost of such a trip is around 75 dollars per person.

For sure you will pay much more but at least you don’t have to bother organising anything.

There are 2 daily safaris in the park. One starts at 5.30 a.m. and ends up at 8.30 a.m. And the other one is in the afternoon, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka
Ultimate guide to Minneriya National Park in Sri Lanka

I recommend you to choose the morning safari because the animals are more active in the morning. Book accommodation close to the national park and start the day with a morning safari.

I booked two nights at Sorowwa Resort because it is located close to the park, it has clean and big rooms and a wonderful view over the lake. I spend the day at the pool and I had an afternoon safari.

Because I am lazy and I don’t want to wake up very early during my holiday I booked the afternoon safari. It was very beautiful too! We saw many animals in the park, dozens of elephants of all sizes, lots of birds, buffalo and a crocodile. We saw monkeys in the trees and even a land monitor crossing the road!

I was more than happy with that experience!

And I did not wake up at 4 a.m.!

Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka is such a good place to spot huge herds of elephants mainly because of its large water tank located in the middle of the park. It is the gathering point for many herds of elephants searching to cool off and have some fun.

We were lucky to spot more than 50 elephants near the water. Huge females with small babies or young elephants playing in the water were eating grass near the water tank. We spend almost one hour observing the elephants.

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