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 to Minneriya 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. And, at Minneriya, we enjoyed many of the same species of wildlife. Admitedly, we did not see leopards. They are quite rare in Minneriya. But, avoiding the crowds of Yala was the right choice for us.
Wake up Early!
Waking up at Nice Place Hotel (see map above) at 6AM we were able to start our jeep safari at around 7AM. This is the only way you’re allowed to travel into the park. Thereafter, we spent the next four hours roving through both the beautiful grasslands and lush jungle spaces. 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. That is, 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, 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!