Minneriya National park in Habarana has a diverse landscape comprising of grasslands, wetlands and dry tropical forests is home to a range of wild animals and birds. Park's center piece is the large Minnerya tank built by the famous tank builder of Mahasena. Undeniably , the main attraction of this park is the elephants as Minneriya forms part of the elephant corridor along with Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa National Parks. The park also has many other animals like monkeys, leopards, spotted dear and sloth bears apart from many varieties of birds.
A guided tour is the best way to spot the elephant herds in this park. Though these can be spotted all round the year, the best time to see exceptionally large congregations of elephants would be from July to October when the elephants come to the tank for drinking water when the other water sources in the park dry up. You can see large herds of over three hundred elephants or more along the shores of the tank where they will spend time, bathing, drinking and socializing. The fresh grass that grows in the dried up lake bed along the fringes ensures regular supply of fodder too for the big herds of elephants that come from as far as Trincomalee. This annual event, popularly known as “ the gathering” is the largest congregation of Asian elephants anywhere in the world.
The park has a visitor's centre , on the Polonnaruwa road in Habarana, manned by a few helpful staff who would be more than happy to guide and you and to share interesting facts about the park. You can hire a jeep to move around the park, but most of the hotels and guest houses in and around Minneriya park arrange daily trips to the park.