Minneriya National Park
Spanning a landmass of 8,000 hectares, and a major contributor to the area’s biodiversity due to the presence of the Minneriya Tank, the Minneriya National Park is a treasure trove of endemic flora and fauna. Although known to be a wildlife reserve, the park has quite a rich history that goes back to the 3rd century, during the reign of King Mahasen. This is because of the Minneriya Tank, as it was originally built to irrigate the lands to cultivate paddy, however, it now serves as a major source for the wildlife that dwell in the area. According to the Wildlife Conservation Department, there are 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies that take refuge in the greenery of the reserve.
Come the months between May and September, and you will be able to witness the largest ‘Gathering’ of elephants in the whole of Asia amounting to around 200 at a time. Partaking in a safari during this time will also enable you to witness some amazing species of birds and other mammals, along with an ever changing terrain covered in lush floral species. The Minneriya National Park is roughly 40 minutes away from Polonnaruwa.