As we reached the end of our trip in Sri Lanka, all we could think is that we did NOT want to go home. We HIGHLY recommend you check out Sri Lanka for yourself! Starting at number 1 and then ending back at number 1, here is where we went!
Keen to see elephants? How about water buffalo? What about more bird species than you can even count? Wild peacocks? And if you’re lucky,how about a leopard? If you’re already grinning with excitement, make sure to head toMinneriya National Park.
Moreover, if you’re not particularly into crowds, and you don’t prefer seeing more jeeps than you do animals, Minneriya is also a good place for you. Considered one of the “less popular” national parks in Sri Lanka, Minneriya allowed us to avoid the crowds of people that are reportedly endemic to national parks such as Yala while at the same time enjoying many of the same species of wildlife. Admitedly, we did not see leopards, as they are quite rare in Minneriya, but avoiding the crowds of Yala (where it’s much more common to see leopards) was the right choice for us.
Waking up at Nice Place Hotel (you can find the location of the hotel by looking at the above map and then clicking the blue pin nearest #2) at 6AM we were able to start our jeep safari (the only way you’re allowed to travel into the park) around 7AM. Thereafter, we spent the next four hours roving through both the beautiful grasslands and lush jungle spaces that make up this beautiful park. From the countless bird species, including an overwhelming number of peacocks to water buffalo the entire experience in Minneriya National Park was breathtaking. But by far, seeing a 2-week old baby elephant was the highlight of excursion.
Our jeep safari guide explained to us that it was quite rare to see baby elephants, as the gestation period is nearly 2-years. So, we felt quite lucky to see the little one romping around in the grass and nursing from it’s mom. And though the baby weighed close to 200 lbs. it was small enough that you could wrap you arms right around it, if the mother would have let you get close enough. But as you’re not allowed to step outside of your jeep we were plenty satisfied watching the whole scene from about 20 feet away. And, truthfully, the rule about not getting out of the jeep is in place for a good reason. About midway through our 30-40 minutes of watching the elephants play (our guide would have let us stay as long as we would have liked) the dominant male of the group charged our jeep! I was most surprised at how quickly this massive creature could go from standing completely still to traveling at what must have been close to 15-20 mph!
The grace and beauty of these gentle giants truly cannot be encapsulated in words nor pictures, so you’ll have to check out Minneriya National Park yourself.
There are countless jeep safari operators around the park, so even if you haven’t booked in advance (though we recommend you do so) you’ll likely be able to find someone to take you into the marvelous place! Our driver, Ruwan, had organized our jeep safari, so again, we were very grateful to have him guiding us!