Safaris In Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks
The National Parks in Minneriya and Kaudulla are great places to enjoy wildlife safaris when you are visiting Sigiriya. Although the parks are a distance away from the Lion Rock, they can easily be reached by car in about an hour. You could alternatively organize a safari jeep to pick you up from your hotel in Sigiriya.
The Minneriya National Park is famed for the annual ‘elephant gathering’ which takes place between August and September every year. During the dry season, 200-300 elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir where the grass is rich and fertile. This phenomenon is a magical experience that allows you to see elephants feeding and bathing as they socialize with the rest of the herd.
If you are visiting Minneriya at any other time of year, you can still see plenty of majestic elephants at the park. This is in addition to being able to observe a wide variety of birds and other animals, including the endemic Sri Lankan jungle fowl, Sri Lankan grey hornbill, purple-faced langur and toque macaque. Minneriya has grown in popularity over the years and is now a hot spot for tourist activity. If this bothers you, it is best to head to the quieter Kaudulla National Park instead.
Kaudulla is situated about 40 minutes away from Minneriya, and is home to a large number of Sri Lankan elephants. The period from August to September sees huge herds of elephants gathering at the water holes in Kaudulla, much like in Minneriya. The park is also home to endemic species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, including the Sri Lankan sloth bear, the albino axis deer and the hard to spot Sri Lankan leopard. Kaudulla has been designated an Important Bird Area as 160 species have been identified here. These include the spot-billed pelican, Asian spoonbill, giant eagle, black-headed ibis, painted and open-billed storks. A wildlife safari experience in either one of these parks is bound to be a highlight of your visit to Sigiriya.