Monday, April 6, 2015

Travel Monday: Visiting Minneriya National Park during the Off-Season

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, entrance, jeep safari, wildlife
As many of my regular readers will know, Minneriya National Park is one of my favorite places to visit. I wrote about one of my visits during the dry season in a blog post titled "Travel Monday: Jeep Safari of Minneriya National Park". The dry season is from June to September, though the period between May to October is considered open season for visiting Minneriya.  The dry season is a particularly good time to visit as it's when water is scarce around the park so the Minneriya Tank becomes the prime vantage point for seeing all the wildlife!

It's not always easy to plan your visits around the best time of the year, particularly if you take holidays during the earlier part of the year. But, this has never been a barrier for me to visit Minneriya during the off-season. In fact, it's quite a peaceful time to go and enjoy the Minneriya Tank and I glimpse some of the wildlife, without the throng of lots of tourists and jeeps, and the pressure of seeking out a lot of wildlife.

This year I visited in January with a few relatives who had flown over for a visit. They had never been on a jeep safari before so they were pleased as punch to be experiencing this for the first time.

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, walkway, jeep safari, wildlifeOn this particular visit, we did an afternoon safari. There were quite a few jeeps sitting idle at the front of the park.

I negotiated a jeep for the four of us for an afternoon safari for Rs.3,000. You need to pay additional for entry to the park i.e. entrance fees to the park inclusive of service charge and VAT are ~Rs.3,300 for foreign adults and ~Rs.450 for local adults.  The Department of Wildlife Conservation sets the park fees. You can check out their list of park fees on their website. They charge me the local rates making it possible for me to make more frequent visits.


The weather was a little overcast with some light rainfall. I know many would think this wasn't such a good thing, but I like a little drama with the weather when I'm on safari. This time around it wasn't that dramatic, but more changeable... moving from overcast to gloomy, rainy and then to a bit of sunshine and finally a gentle sunset.

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, off season, jeep safari, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, butterflies, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, jeep safari, wildlife

During the off-season you shouldn't expect to see lots of wildlife as there is an abundance of watering holes throughout the park. Therefore, the animals will keep to their own hidey holes or natural habitats and away from the roads, jeeps and humans. On our visit, we didn't see a single elephant nor leopard, but caught some spotted deer, monitor lizards, monkeys, butterflies and an array of birds.

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, spotted deer, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, monitor lizard, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, peacock, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, viewing tower, Minneriya Tank, Sri Lanka, viewing towerEva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, wild monkeys, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, birds, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, birds, wildlife

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, spotted deer, wildlife

It was especially spacious and lovely around the Minneriya Tank.  We stopped a few times to do some bird-watching listening to the sounds and meditating on the stillness of the water. The photos don't do it justice, but you can get an idea of what it was like...

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya Tank, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya Tank, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, birds

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya Tank, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, man rowing boat

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya Tank, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, late afternoon

From one of the towers at the edge of the tank you can climb up to get a better vantage point of the tank and it's surrounding greenery.

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, Brahminy Kite, flying, Minneriya Tank

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, White-Bellied Sea Eagle, flying, Minneriya Tank

If you have a choice, it's best to visit during May to October (and don't miss out on The Gathering of elephants during August/September), but as you can see there is still much to enjoy even during the off-season at Minneriya National Park.

Eva Stone photo, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, electrical transmission lines, sunset

Happy Safari-ing cool razz lol



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