- Estate Life
The Minneriya Tank was created by King Parakarambahu at the height of Polonnaruwa’s glory as the capital of Sri Lanka. The national park based largely around the huge tank (reservoir) was created rather more recently but serves as an important gathering place for Sri Lanka’s large population of elephants. It is a great place for elephant spotting all year round – though as the dry season makes water scarce between June and September, more and more elephants gather on the shores of Minneriya Tank.
Indeed by late August and September, the awe inspiring site of up to 300 elephants can often be seen, in a phenomenon known as ‘The Gathering’. It is the largest concentration and gathering of Asian elephants that can be seen anywhere in the world. Watching baby elephants playing with each other, bull elephants tussling for dominance and the great matriarchs surveying the scene is not a sight you are likely to forget in a hurry. Aside from the elephant, Minneriya is also home to some 23 other species of mammals: some, like the Deer and Sambur you will see, some like the Leopard and the Sloth Bear will probably prove elusive. The arid dry zone is a paradise for many species of Lizard and you will see them here in all their technical colour brilliance if you look carefully enough, as well as snakes like the Indian Python and the Mugger Crocodile. Above all, of course, are Sri Lanka’s wonderfully varied bird population. Among the 150 or so species, particular favorites of ours you may see in Minneriya include the beautiful painted stork, and various other bird species.