We were taken on a rusty jeep from our relaxing resort in the middle of the jungle, it was afternoon, hot and humid, a usual temperature for Sri Lanka. We didn’t know yet, but this was one of the best adventures of our life. Never thought that an Elephant Safari in Sri Lanka would be so emotional for us. This is the right article to explore Minneriya National Park onboard a jeep. This is the story of our Minneriya National Park Safari in the Jungle.
What an incredible day in the wild, seeing hundreds of animals in their natural habitat. Minneriya is just one of the many wonderful National Parks in Sri Lanka. Most of the best parks are located close to Sigiriya. Going on a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park will drive you close to those giant animals.
If you want to experience the best of this country, we highly recommend checking out for a safari in Minneriya National Park. Please don’t go to places who allow you to ride elephants.
MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK SAFARI
OUR EXPERIENCE IN MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK TOUR
What was most appreciated by us in our visit to Minneriya National Park, is that local guides care more about animal freedom than business. Yes, it seems impossible, but is not easy.
Starting from staying in a parking lot with a dozen other jeeps ready to explore the immense and boundless prairie of Minneriya National Park. To don’t bother the animals too much while bathing, eating, fighting or just lying on the grass, the local authorities allow a certain number of jeeps and tours inside the park.
We waited around 45 minutes to start our tour in Minneriya National Park. Although the wait was not very welcome, we all understood that it was for the sake of animals. And that occasionally the tourists themselves are unruly.
MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK SAFARI RULES
While entering the parking area of the National Park of Minneriya, our guides were very concise about what was allowed and what not. All these rules were for the sake of animals which were roaming free into the park, and we were just visitors disturbing them.
Right Dressing | Wear clothes which cover you correctly, multilayer clothing is also a good idea. If you have wounds, cover it to avoid the risk of infection, by insects or dust.
Don’t scream and stay calm | Be calm and composed once arrived in the area. Don’t make unnecessary noise. Over excitement might keep them away from you.
Don’t get out of the jeep | It is very important that you should stick to your group. Don’t try to get out of your jeep.
Don’t carry unnecessary stuff | You don’t need that many things in a safari. Carry with you the best focal lens and your camera.
Do not forget these | Carry your sunglasses, sun hats & sunscreen to keep yourself safe from sunburns. Avoid sleepers, sandals etc which expose your feet to wild nature.
Camera | Jungle safari is a special occasion. Do not forget to carry a good camera so you can capture some good photographs of the flora and fauna.
Refrain from Littering | Please respect the animal habitat and refrain from littering your garbage while in the park. You can also be fined and kicked out of the tour.
WHERE IS MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
Minneriya is a National Park in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, it is close to incredible areas of the Country. This immense park can be visible from the summit of Sigiriya or hiking up Pidurangala.
The distance from Colombo is huge, 182 Kilometres away which makes this experience hard to do in a day trip from Colombo, but not impossible. Instead, if you want to stay closer to the park we suggest to check out places like Habarana or Sigiriya, or a bit further Dambulla. Minneriya National Park is close to another amazing wild and protected area, Dambulla.
HOW TO VISIT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK FROM COLOMBO
If you are travelling from Colombo, the main city of Sri Lanka, you need to point yourself toward Sigiriya or Dambulla. The drive will take approximately 4 hours, in the wild and dusty roads of Sri Lanka.
You can associate a wild Safari in Minneriya National Park with the visit to Sigiriya and Pidurangala. Read below our experience.
Arriving in Sigiriya, the drive to Minneriya National Park will take about 30 minutes. You can reach the park also by tuk tuk. Instead, if you want to visit the nearest park in Kaudulla, it is about an hour away from Sigiriya.
MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK JEEP SAFARI
ELEPHANT SAFARI IN MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
If you want to see as many elephants as possible in one place, this is the right one you should go to. We were enraptured by the freedom of these giants, seeing them walking down the lake, drinking and playing with water, or just bathing.
We have never been on an Elephant Safari and in Sri Lanka was our first time in the wild. The entrance of the jeep to the park is regulated, making it not extremely noisy for the animals. We saw Mama elephant feeding the baby, two giants fighting and playing and we had the pleasure also to find one on the side of the street while going back to our hotel.
What we loved at most of this park, was the way you naturally see animals. It is not all related to an Elephant Safari in Minneriya National Park, but most to an incredible contact with nature and the wild.
You can suddenly find curious baby elephants coming toward you, or see the whole herd of elephants start moving at the signal of the leader.
If you are seriously thinking of experiencing an Elephant Safari in Sri Lanka, you should consider an adventure on a jeep in Minneriya National Park.
ELEPHANT SAFARI IN MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
Those fees are for the entry to those National Parks in Sri Lanka, Ruhunu(Yala), Udawalawe, Horton Plains, Wilpattu and Minneriya National Parks.
(The fee is calculated in 15$ paid at the equivalent in the local currency, Sri Lanka Rupees)
DAY VISIT TO MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
TWO VISITS IN THE SAME DAY (Morning and Afternoon)
Those are the most expensive National Park Entrance in Sri Lanka. Other sites have a cheaper entrance fee, but less chance to watch elephants in a Safari. The Entrance fee to other National Parks over than the above costs 10$ USD for Adult Foreigners and 5$ for children.
MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK SAFARI COST
This is maybe something you want to know at the most. A Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari can be costly. This is a pure attraction in Sri Lanka, and we beat everything that other places are ethical like those people. So everything came at a cost. A Private Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park will cost about 20$, check it out.
This is coming without the park entrance fee, which costs 3000LKR, which are 15$. There are tours that cover the entire costs of this experience, which will be not over 50$ all included with a pickup from your hotel. Check this out!
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
ENTRANCE FEE | Minneriya National Park Price: 3000LKR – 15$
TOURS | All Included with pick up from the hotel – Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
OTHER TOUR OPTIONS TO MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
You will be glad to know that you can still have the chance to experience a safari in Sri Lanka even if you are not close to any National Park. You can easily reach Minneriya National Park or Kaudulla National Park from other cities in Sri Lanka. Below are some of the tours you should consider.
Minneriya National Park Safari Price
You can also organize your Minneriya Safari by yourself, just showing at the park entrance, parking your car or walking in, going to the counter. The prices might vary by your deal with the licensed guides and drivers.
If this is your case, you have to pay other fees than just the entrance to the park, that is around 15$ USD. You need to pay 8$ Service Charge, about 1,500 LKR. Then you can rent a vehicle with a driver for about 1500 to 2500 LKR, about 8$ to 13$ USD. This is then calculated to a 15% VAT and is per person.
The total cost of a Minneriya National Park Safari will be about 40$ USD. To avoid that we will suggest you check out for an Organized Jeep Safari Tour of Minneriya National Park.
JEEP SAFARI IN MINNERIYA
Look for the most suitable Elephant Safari in Sri Lanka for you. Starting from 20$ you will be able to experience the best of the country hassle-free!
Minneriya National Park Tour
This is a wonderful park in one of the widest flat areas of Sri Lanka. If you have hired a driver for your tour of Sri Lanka, you have to reach the entrance of the park and take a jeep from there. You cannot enter the park with your own car. You can get a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park trading with drivers and guides at the parking lot, but we suggest you book your tour in advance.
The tour of the grassland will take you inside the wildest park. Minneriya National Park will open you the eyes to the largest wild elephant gathering in the world. Onboard a jeep, your guide will take you to the areas where those giant mammals are staying. You will be able to capture the golden opportunity to witness Asia’s largest gathering of mighty elephants in their natural habitat, without human interference.
You will be far away from the animals, in certain parts of this tour you will instead incur on closest elephants. This is an experience unique in Sri Lanka.
Best time to visit Minneriya National Park
The Elephant Gathering in Minneriya National Park and Kaudulla National Park is taking place during the dry season. This time frame goes from mid-June to late September. It is believed to be the largest gathering of Asian Elephants in the region.
Those giant animals move from one side to another looking for freshwater and graze of grass to eat. When the rivers in the other regions are dry, the Elephants are naturally forced to travel to those two large areas of Sri Lanka in search of fresh resources.
If you are visiting the country in summer, you should consider going for an Elephant safari in Sri Lanka. It is an incredible experience that is happening just once a year.
If you are planning your unique travel experience in a Sri Lanka Safari, witnessing the gathering, you should ask your guide which park is most appropriate for that particular part of the year. It may change as the Elephants do move between the parks, over the Elephant corridor and be visible in a section than the other.
Morning or Afternoon Safari in Minneriya National Park?
There is the chance to choose between two different tours in Minneriya National Park. You can easily do a morning safari or skip to the afternoon.
What we suggest is obviously depending on the way you are managing the tour of Sri Lanka. If you stay close to the National Park it is obvious you have both choices, but staying away in Colombo, Kandy, Dambulla or Negombo, you should definitely go for the afternoon tour, which is going from 3 pm onward.
The Reserve is surrounded by dense jungle and huge lakes and water streams. The Jungle is providing shade to the elephants on hot days. They are hiding in the jungle most of the time in the morning, emerging in their herds in the afternoon. If you arrive at the right time, you could be able to see a gathering of dozens of mammals at the time coming out from the jungle.
What is “The Gathering” and why should I visit Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks?
Those are two of the best national parks in Sri Lanka, together with Yala National Park and the whale watching area of Tricomalè. The area of Minneriya and Kaudulla are next to each other, making it one of the vast and wildest grasslands of the whole country.
Once a year the Asian Elephants of those two reserves are all together in a certain area of the park, this is known as “The gathering”.
Minneriya National Park and Kaudulla National Park are divided by a strip of land called “elephant corridor”. This is the wildest part of the park, mainly jungle. This is the access way for the elephants from a park to another park.
ELEPHANT SAFARI IN SRI LANKA
The best Jeep Safari in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is doing a great job preserving some areas and regulating the business regarding wild safaris in their parks. (Read a report on why you should not ride an elephant)
We experienced one of the most ethical ways to do a safari, without increasing risks for animals in the name of profit. While there is no better place to observe an animal than in its natural habitat, we were extremely worried about the impact massive human presence can do around those giant and peaceful creatures. We hope you understand that it is better to see animals in reserve, where they are left free to roam and gather from one park to another, more than visit them in a zoo or a restricted area.
Sri Lanka has been named by a few trustworthy newspapers and travel magazines as the “best safari outside of Africa” for a reason. Government commitment is huge in this field.
Other places to see elephants in Sri Lanka
Minneriya and Kaudulla National Park are just two of the largest Reserves in Sri Lanka where you can watch elephants in their natural habitat. There are 22 Protected Areas in Sri Lanka, that is insane for such a small island. You can see the complete list here, we highlighted some below for you.
There is Yala National Park, famous because it could be seen by another amazing wild animal, the Leopard and is the oldest in the country, instituted in 1938. The Uda Walawe and Wilpattu are two other amazing reserves with lakes and water streams. You can also check out for Madu National Park in the north-west of the country.
PLEASE, DON’T RIDE ELEPHANTS
This is the most important part of our post about Minneriya Elephant Safari. We will invite you to don’t look for a place which offers you to ride Elephants. We know that it could seem cool, and maybe it is. But those animals suffer from abuse, narrow cages and poor hygiene conditions.
Behave also while going on a safari, you are the intruder in their habitat. What you will think if somebody comes into your garden and starts to bother you, scream and go crazy. Kick him out. Right, so don’t be silly.
According to the World Animal Protection Foundation, over half of the elephants kept in captivity in Asia are held in terrible and cruel conditions. Read how animals are abused in Asia.
WHERE TO STAY FOR A SAFARI IN SRI LANKA
We believe that we have had the best experience in Minneriya National Park also because our hotel was close to the park, in a middle way from Sigiriya Rock. For a much incredible experience in Sri Lanka, we suggest you watch out in Habarana. This city is completely immersed in the jungle, we were staying close to a lake that was ideal for bird watching as well.
We have seen indigenous species, unique in the world. Our hotel was Sorowwa Resorts and Spa. The International Menu helped us to deal with the spicy local food, and the Spa area to relax from the hard hiking of Pidurangala e Sigiriya. The amazing pool is open until 9 pm which was amazing back in the hotel. Check this out.
Those are our suggestions for your accommodation close to Minneriya National Park.
SIGIRIYA ROCK CLIMB, PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE AND SAFARI IN MINNERIYA IN ONE DAY
Yes, it is possible, it was hard but is one of the best memories in our life. While discovering Sri Lanka in 10 days, we were willing to get the best of our trip.
We have stayed in Habarana, which is closer to the three sites. While Pidurangala was not on our scheduled tour we decided to wake up early and see the best sunrise of Sri Lanka on the summit of Pidurangala. Read Pidurangala Rock Hike dedicated post.
Despite the early alarm and the hard climb on Pidurangala, we were back at the hotel at 8.30 am, on time for a full breakfast. A little nap of an hour to recharge our batteries and back on the road at 10 am. All were organized, tickets for the entrance to Sigiriya too. We didn’t have to queue at the ticket counter for our entrance. We were on top of Sigiriya at midday. The view from the summit of the ancient ruins is insane, you can clearly spot the two parks of Minneriya and Kaudulla. Read our experience hiking Sigiriya.
Back in the hotel was time to relax, but our journey was fully booked. Time for a quick, but nutrient lunch, shower, dive in the awesome pool and back on the road. Our Jeep was waiting outside to ride us toward Minneriya. We were so excited for our first safari, that we almost forgot the tireless day we were doing.
Hope we inspired you to visit Sri Lanka through our words. This country is a genuine experience to do once in your life.
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ESSENTIAL THINGS TO PACK FOR YOUR TRIP TO SRI LANKA
If you are packing your bags, there are a couple of things that you need to have with you.
COMFORTABLE SHOES | Those will save your life if you are looking to hike Pidurangala and Sigiriya Rock
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | Whenever you will be visiting Negombo or Sri Lanka your new best friend will be the water.
SUNCREAM | After living in Malaga for 6 months we already had our skin used to the hot weather. If you are not used to it, we suggest you bring sun cream.
TRIPOD | Everyone loves taking pictures and sometimes with a tripod it can be easier than asking someone else.
SANITISER WIPES OR HAND SANITISER | Spending your day always around you won’t be able to wash your hands frequently and this is why you should have a hand sanitiser.
POWER BANK | Your phone battery is very important especially if you love taking pictures with your phone. So, don’t forget to pack a power bank.
CAMERA | It can be the most incredible adventure of your life. Go on a safari in Sri Lanka could be the perfect time to take back that old dusty camera you wish always to use more. This is our Camera Gear, have a look.