A place that draws visitors from around the world to witness an incredible event known as the ‘Elephant Gathering’, the Minneriya National Park is just over half an hour’s drive away from the hotel. The park surrounds the vast Minneriya tank – built in 3rd Century AD by King Mahasen, spanning over 8000 hectares of secondary forests, shrub and grasslands. Every dry season, the wet outcrop around the tank attracts large herds of wild elephants from near and far in a migratory ritual followed across the centuries. With the receding water levels giving access to fresh sprouting grass and plants, the area proves irresistible to the herds, and hundreds upon hundreds gather to feed, mate and play. This phenomenon is believed to be the largest gathering of Asian Elephants in the world and one of the world's "10 greatest wildlife spectaculars."
The dry season, which falls from July through early November, also attracts other wildlife such as leopards and sloth bear, and over 160 species of resident and migratory birds can also be seen. Large flocks of water birds including Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork and Spot Billed Pelican, and thousands of Little Cormorants can also be seen by the shores of the tank.