There were two musts on our list of things to do in Sri Lanka: learn some delicious Sri Lankan recipes, and see wild elephants. Minneriya National Park is one of the best places to see elephants from June to August so naturally it was high in our priorities.
We met our jeep driver at the entrance to the park and started our safari. It was so exhilarating standing in the back of the jeep as we drove around the stunning landscape. We were so excited when we saw a small group of elephants emerging from the jungle and heading towards the lake.
We felt so lucky to be able to see them up close. Our driver pulled over at a safe distance so we could take photos. Gradually, more and more elephants were appearing including tiny baby ones! One must have been no more than a few days old – it was still learning to walk and kept falling over!
Before we knew it there were easily over fifty elephants coming out of the trees to bathe, drink, and play in the water. We even saw a bit of a tussle between two males who must have taken a liking to the same lady elephant – the huge one with the tusks quickly pulled rank.
There are a lot of places to see elephants in Sri Lanka, including orphanages where you can even feed and pet babies. However, it was important to us to see them in their world and at a distance, as we feel that a line is crossed when wild animals are given such exposure to tourists.
Minneriya National Park is home to more than just elephants though. We saw some water buffalo chilling out in the lake, and countless bird species.
Our jeep driver really knew his stuff and was telling us all about the different species. I was especially impressed with how easily he could spot animals and identify them from a distance.
Minneriya National Park is a must if your in the area and especially if you’re not continuing down to Yala on your trip. Late afternoon to early evening is the best time to visit as the day starts to cool off into the evening and all the animals come out of the jungle to drink and cool off in the lake. You’ll be guaranteed to see something!