Size 8,889 hectares
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, weaver-birds, 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.
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.