When we get in our jeep in Polonnaruwa, we are with a Polish couple, and on the way to Minneriya, pick up a Czech couple as well. Then, as we make a stop at a gas station, the driver demands us to pay all the entire sum, and we get into real trouble when he drives back to the city on instructions from his boss. We meet him on the way back, and he turns out a bully who does not listen, until the problem gets solved and we turn around again. A total contrast with the super friendly owner of our guesthouse who has recommended the company, and it once again reminds us of the potentially negative influence of tourism on locals. We have a long wait at the entrance on the west side of the park, but once the roof is open, and we drive on the tracks of Minneriya National Park, we feel the typical safari excitement.
We drive through thick vegetation in which there is not a lot to see, but when we traverse a shallow stream, we drive into a more open landscape, in which it is much easier to spot wildlife. Indeed, we see a big herd of buffaloes in the distance, on the shores of Minneriya reservoir. We continue driving and soon spot our first elephant: a lonely one, very likely male. We follow a line of jeeps: safari in Minneriya is very much a mass activity as we see tens of jeeps ahead of us. This makes spotting animals even easier, and soon enough, we stop to look at a big herd of elephants. Some of them infant, some a little bigger, some adult. They are all walking the grass and feeding, some going down to the shore of the reservoir to drink. The baby elephants are ducking and sticking their little trunk under their mother in search of milk. Our driver fortunately lets us enjoy the view for a long time.
It is great to be standing in the jeep, watching the elephants who are constantly moving and eating, some getting very close to our vehicle. We continue for a short bit, and then see a male elephant, easily recognizable because of its big tusks, and its sloping backside (where female elephants are more square in shape). When we look towards the trees, we see a peacock in full glory. After a short drive, we come across yet another, smaller herd of elephants which we observe closely. We also see many birds, and buffaloes, before we start on our way back to the exit. No matter how close we watch, we do not see any other animals. We do have to duck at times, to avoid the branches over the track. Once we reach the exit, and close the top of the jeep again, we all have big smiles on our faces, and plenty of great images in our heads to return to Polonnaruwa fully satisfied.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Minneriya safari (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Minneriya safari.
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