Minneriya National Park
Along with the Kaudulla National Park towards the north and Wasgomuwa National Park in the south, Minneriya forms part of the elephant corridor that connects the protected areas located within the Cultural Triangle and facilitates elephant migration. The large Minneriya Wewa, which is the focal point of the park, was built by King Mahasena in the 4th century and covers an area of 30 sq km between the months of August and October, at the height of the dry season, elephants congregate at the tank. Their numbers peak during Septembers; as many as 300 elephants have been recorded here at this time. This annual event is popularly known as the “the Gathering” when the pachyderms come to park for water and fresh shoots of grass that grow on the lake bed as the waters recede, as well as to look for mates.
Minneriya boasts a wide variety of habitats, ranging from wetland to tropical forest, and aquatic and forest birds can both be sighted here. There are also macaques, sambar deer, wild buffaloes, land monitors, and even some elusive leopard and sloth bears to be observed.
Visitors should note that at the time of the Gathering the park can get very busy and some concerns have been raised about the number of tourist jeeps and their effect on elephant movement.