Minneriya National Park
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.
The entrance to the park is about 6 km from the Habarana Best time to see Elephants in park is the early morning and late evening. 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 or from Polonnaruwa. They cost around Rs 1500/- per half day and Rs 3000/- 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. A permit is required from the Ambagaswewa Wildlife Conservation Office (about 6 km from Habarana), to enter the park.
There are no bungalows inside the 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. Once my vehicle was chased for some good meters by a herd probably because we stopped to vehicle (with head lights on) too close to them. Obviously had other things in my mind than taking few photos. I did take few photos another day on this road. This herd had come to the road at about 4.30 pm. They are a little blurred as I took them from inside the vehicle. I have posted them in the photo section.
The park can be reached through Ratnapura and is approximately 182 Km from Colombo. If you are traveling from Colombo You will have to take the Kandy Road and turn off from Ambepussa towards Kurunegala. From Kurunegala take the Dambulla - Habarana Road. From the Habarana junction turn right towards Minneriya.
February 21, 2007