Minnerya National Park is on the Habarana-Polannaruwa road in the Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka.
How to get to Minnerya National Park
You can reach the Minnerya National Park by bus, car (with a driver) or three-wheeler. However, to visit the park, you must be accompanied by a licensed guide and you must enter and leave by your guide’s 4WD vehicle/truck.
You can either book a trip with your guesthouse/hotel or you can hire a guide from those waiting at the main crossroads in Habarana. Besides the guide you hire, a park ranger will accompany you.
Minnerya National Park Price
The ticket entrance is USD15 x foreign adult, USD8 x foreign child + USD8 service charge + vehicle fee (from RS250 to RS650 depending on the size of the vehicle) + guide’s entrance ticket RS60 + 15% VAT.
On top of that you have to add the cost for the hired vehicle & guide + transportation cost for reaching the park.
Where to stay
Being located on the Habarana-Polannaruwa road, the park is accessible pretty much from all the main tourist destinations of the area: Dambulla, Sigirya, Habarana and Polannaruwa. We stayed in Dambulla and went to the park after having climbed Sigirya Rock (between 45 and 60 minutes from Sigirya).
Another – perhaps – better option for all those staying in the Dambulla / Sigirya area is to visit the ancient temples of Polannaruwa in the morning and visit the park in the afternoon on the way back to the guesthouse/hotel.
How much time will you need there
Half a day (the safari is about 3-4 hours).
Best time to visit Minnerya National Park
The dry season from May to September is considered the best time to visit as by then the water in the tank has dried up, leaving behind vast swaths of muddy earth that are soon covered in rich, tender grass.
Elephants come to feed and bathe in the water tank during the Gathering. However, it is also possible to see large numbers of elephants here at other times of the year, too. We saw around 100 in April when we visited.
It is better to visit the park in the afternoon as by then that the elephants slowly make their way to the water tank.
Why should Minnerya National Park be on my bucket list ?
Despite not being the cheapest attraction and the park being very busy with safari jeeps. Minnerya National Park is still well worth a visit to see the large heard of wild elephants in their natural habitat. Some of them were babies. We also saw water buffalo and a wide variety of birds and had a really good time.