Book a morning or afternoon safari and travel independently to Minneriya National Park. Alternatively, if your hotel lies within a 3-mile (5-kilometer) radius of the entrance, enjoy a pickup and transfer to the gates.
Head inside (own expense), meet your driver-guide, and board your private 4x4 — complete with rollaway top for open-top viewing in good conditions — and begin your safari. Composed of forest, marshlands, scrubland, and a vast reservoir lake, Minneriya’s diversity makes it a haven for many species, from elephants to birdlife.
Follow the tracks, watching for everything from the elusive Sri Lankan leopard and sloth bear to elephants, monkeys, water monitors, deer, and saltwater crocodiles, and at the reservoir, look for birds like painted stork, pelicans, and cormorants.
In early morning, you may see deer by the water while late afternoons may bring sightings of elephants enjoying their daily bath and birds returning to their nests. If you’re here from August to October, you might also see the ‘Elephant Gathering,’ when up to 150 elephants congregate in what seems to be an annual ritual.
Your 3-hour safari ends at the park gate, or if you’re staying within 3 miles (5 kilometers), with a hotel drop-off.