Both national parks are easily accessible during a stay in the Cultural Triangle (Dambulla, Sigiriya, Habarana). Located 182k away from Colombo which is a good 5-hour drive. Ideally staying a night in the vicinity allows travelers to properly enjoy a Safari here since the evening time is the best time to see the elephants in action.
Minneriya National park covers close to 8,900 hectares of land including the Minneriya Reservoir. Kaudulla National Park covers a lesser ground area of up to 6,700 hectares of land. However, depending on the availability of water and food, not only the elephants but water buffaloes, various wader’s, raptors and monkeys move about between the 2 parks.
Both parks have similar topography. The tropical dry mixed evergreen forests; abandoned chena lands, grasslands and wetlands. The open grasslands and old and old chena lands are dominated by the many species of small shrub. Both parks are home to over 24 species of mammals including the illusive Sri Lankan Leopards, Sri Lanka Sloth Bear, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the Indian Pangolin. Occasionally you would a jackals & foxes running about looking for food.
Although the main attraction is elephants; over 170 species of birds have been recorded. Specially the Kentish Plovers to Malabar-pied Hornbills, Emerald Doves, Brown-capped babbler. It is also a great place to see amphibians. The endangered Slender Wood Frog and the Common Tree Frog are sights to look out for and 2 of the best places to experience lizards including the Red-lipped Lizard, The Mugger Crocodile and Land Monitors.
Being part of the elephant corridor, which joins with Wasgomuwa National Park, both these national parks give the opportunity to see herds of Elephants throughout the year. May to October is the best period to visit, in view of the famous Gathering of the Wild Elephants.
It is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During this period herds of upto 250 Elephants are seen gathered by the reservoir. Best seen during August and September each year during the dry season. The elephants gather in search of food and water.