Researching extensively about my travel destinations has always been an integral part of my travels . More so, when I used to have limited number of days at hand and so much to explore in a destination. Srilanka is one such country which offers varied experiences like adventure, wildlife, history, art and a lot more. To have a flavor of everything, I had planned my itinerary to savor the best of all worlds. One of the experiences high on my list was to go on a safari in Sri lanka. So, to indulge in the popular safari at Minneriya National park, I combined it with my day trip to Polonnaruwa.
Also read – A day hike to Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka
We started off early from Sigiriya and headed to Polonnaruwa to explore the heritage of one of the most ancient cities of Srilanka. Given my love for heritage, I would have loved to stay there for a couple of days and dive into the heritage of the city a little more. Due to limited number of days, I had only a day to explore the city and head back to Sigiriya. While mapping things to do to days, I had planned to visit Minneriya national park on my way back to Sigiriya which had just fit perfect in the day’s schedule.
The 8890 hectares of Minneriya National Park is situated between Habarana and Polonnaruwa .There are infact three parks Minneriya national park, Kaudulla and Hurulu Eco Park in the close vicinity of each other and are joined to each other by elephant corridors and share herd of jumbos which treks over the three. We reached just in time around 2:30pm at Minneriya national Park and upon inquiry from jeep drivers, got to know that it’s best to visit Minneriya national park that day than the other two parks.
Near the ticket counter, we tried looking for people to share the Safari jeep but because we were just in time, we couldn’t find people to share the jeep with, thus had the entire jeep to ourselves. After buying the tickets at the entrance,my excitement knew no bounds as I was about to see the largest grouping of wild Asian elephants at any given time. I was also hoping to witness other diverse wildlife like wild buffalo, sloth bear, leopards and many exotic birds of the park.
At sharp 3 pm, we hopped on the open jeep and entered the dense national park. I was struggling to stand still while the jeep drove on the dirt pathway. We crossed few elephants standing here and there but I kept my eyes wide open to spot the leopard, bear or other exotic. In some time while I still was managing myself to stand without falling on the seat now and then, we reached a lake like water body which is called Minneriya tank. The tank is a rainwater reservoir which provides for the elephant population in dry season.
The sight at the Minneriya tank was nothing less than a spectacle. The elephants which didn’t appeal me so much while entering the park had taken over my mind now. There were families of elephants grazing on the wide-spread lush green grassland, the lovey dovey elephant couples in their own zone, the mom dad elephants playing with their younger ones in the water, the toddlers chasing away the birds. And there were so many of them. I couldn’t hold my emotions within myself on seeing these giant beings living like human beings in their home and I happened to drop a tear or two.
They call them the “Gathering” when they assemble near the Minneriya reservoir, but to me it appeared like an evening outing of them. There were more than 200 elephants around us wagging their tails, flapping their huge ears and involved in trunk fights. I had never imagined to witness this play in their abode. I could spot a few rare species of birds as well.
There were a number of jeeps ahead of our jeep and all the jeeps would stop here and there for quite sometime to click pictures and appreciate these giants. On our way out, I was left deliberating that how much we shake their habitat and disrupt their lives. The younger ones would hide themselves behind their folks to avoid any human interaction. I often think if I should continue going on Safaris but witnessing these beautiful beings in their homeland is incomparable to any other charm of the world.
Things to know before visiting Minneriya National Park –
- The safari takes place twice in a day at 5:30 am and 3 pm everyday.
- We can share the safari to save on cost and to cause less trouble for the elephants.
- Safari costs 95 USD for two including the safari jeep drive, driver cum guide, park entrance fee.
- It’s a 3 hour safari where guide stops several times for us to take pictures.
- We are not supposed to get down the jeep while in the national park.
- We shouldn’t feed elephants or other animals anything.
- We be quiet and enjoy the time in their habitat.
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