Minneriya National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Sri Lanka and is situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. Way back in 1938 it was a wildlife sanctuary and was designated a national park in 1997. The main cause for proclaiming it protected is that it could protect the catchment of the Minneriya tank and safeguard the wildlife. The tank encompasses a historical spot due to the fact that it was constructed by King Mahasen in the 3rd century AD. There is a vast elephant population in this area which extends to the Districts of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.
The area receives an average rainfall of 1,500 – 2,000 millimeters and it is situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Amban River and the Elahara River are the main sources of water for the tank. The North East Monsoon is from October to January and the dry season from May to September. The habitats of Minneriya consist of many types, which include low canopy montane forests, transitional high-canopy ancillary forests, savannas and grasslands. There are also many abandoned chena lands, including rocky outcrops and wetlands.
Tourists are warned to be aware of elephants that throng the sides of vehicles driving through the park. They can be aggressive. Hence tourists need to be watchful and enter the park with an experienced guide, who will be able to protect them throughout the ride through the park. The grasslands attract these elephants and the amble along the sides of the reservoir in the dry season. The Minneriya tank sustains these herds of elephants which amount from 150 – 200 and could even go up to 700. These elephants are migrants from Wasgamuwa National Park, as the Minneriya National Park provides food and water to them. Elephants have been known to attract tourists during the dry season.