Explore these two wildlife sanctuaries featuring diverse terrain and exceptional sightings, particularly of the famed Sri Lankan elephant that move between these two Parks.
Kaudulla National Park located near Polonnaruwa is a dry evergreen forest set around the ancient Kaudulla Reservoir, a 26km (16mi) dam that supports wildlife, flora, birds, reptiles and exotic fish. Surrounded by vast grasslands and scrubby forest the Park is home to massive herds of elephant, wild boar, sambar deer, leopards, rusty spotted cats and sloth bears. Enjoy birdwatching with over 160 species such as Asian spoonbill, grey-headed fish eagle, black-headed ibis and several reptiles including Indian black turtle and freshwater turtles. Be captivated by scoops of pelicans at sunset drawn to the vast Reservoir and for a different perspective glide along the Reservoir in a paddle boat or catamaran.
Near Polonnaruwa is the Minneriya National Park, with a tank of great historical importance built in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasen. The Park is a vast landscape of grasslands, tropical forests and wetlands inhabited by toque macaque, purple-faced langur monkeys and spotted deer.
A must-see is ‘The Gathering of Elephants’ at the Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks, a spectacular event which occurs from June to October each year. Each day, a massive gathering of hundreds of elephants emerges from the forest to congregate at the water’s edge of the Minneriya and Kaudulla reservoirs and feed on the lush green grass. This is an extraordinary opportunity to observe the social dynamics of the Sri Lankan elephants.