With their proximity to Polonnaruwa and Habarana, the Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks offer an excellent chance of seeing elephants and other animals without the crowds of Yala National Park. On some days, you won’t need to enter the parks to view elephants as they freely roam the countryside. You might even see elephants at dusk from beside the main Habarana–Giritale Rd. Be sure to keep a safe distance.
Before visiting, first speak to locals (guesthouse staff, tour companies or guides) as they'll know which of these two parks has the greatest concentration of elephants at any one time. Kaudulla is the less visited of the two parks.