Reviews of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage • 9
Spend a day at Pinnawala Elephant OrphanageMeet young Asian elephants bathing in the river at one of the most popular elephant breeding sites in the country.
To reach Pinnawala(http://nationalzoo.gov.lk/elephantorphanage/visitor-information/) Elephant Orphanage (8AM to 6PM – LKR 700 SAARC rate): take EXPRESS Train# 1024 @1030hrs Kandy -> Rambukkaa railway stn and then EXPRESS Train# 1039 @1930hrs Rambukkaa railway stn -> Kandy
On landing at the Bandarnaike Internation Airport in Colombo, take a hired cab directly to Nuwara Eliya with a stop at Pinnawala elephant orphanage on the way. A 2 hour drive from the airport, the orphanage is supposed to be a welfare center for old or abandoned elephants which they claim to have rescued. The entry costs around Rs.500 and then they have various other attractions such as elephant rides, feeding the elephants, bathing the elephants etc. You will have to pay extra for the same. During the time I visited there was an elephant named Rani who was also an artist, yes, she literally made oil paintings on canvas! One thing you must be cautious about is that despite having paid the charges, the mahout will ask you for a tip and will also state the amount he expects. This can get a little annoying. I cannot claim if this is actually a proper welfare center for “abandoned” elephants, but during my visit the animals all looked well taken care of.
If you don't feel like making this long and quite hectic trip, there are other places nearby Kandy like Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage,Botanical Garden, Tea museum etc, to spend your day in a relaxed way. You can rent a tuk tuk for the day to take you around to these places. Be aware that if the tuk tuk driver suggest you to visit gem factories, where if you buy something he will get a share of the profit and it possibly might be a scam. So gently avoid anything he suggest to buy unless you are very sure of it.
From the airport, upon exit we directly headed towards Pinnawala en route to the first night stop at Kandy, a small hill station in the central province of Sri Lanka. After a sumptuous lunch of the famous Sri Lankan rice and fish curry, we reached Pinnawala, known for its huge Elephant Orphanage at about 2:30pm. At the entrance after the first left, you see a couple of small elephants breaking wooden logs. These were the chained ones and so tourists were freely taking photographs with them. One of the elephants actually flung a log at us while we were taking pics with him. The place borders a hill and has a river on the other side where the elephants are taken for daily bath. So we visited that river bank next. What greeted us was a massive sight. 50 odd elephants bathing at the side of the river and workers throwing water on them. Beautiful! The best part was the child elephants who jostled past the elders to move at the head of the pack when they came marching back to the orphanage. Brilliant!
2) Pinnawala elephant orphanage This orphanage is a 2-3 hours drive from Colombo, located in Pinnawala. The orphanage takes care of hundreds of elephants whose parents have been killed. The objective is to rehabilitate the elephants to be released into the wild. We spent a few hours in this orphanage marveling at the sight of these majestic tuskers.The best time to go is during bathing time as you get to see many elephants splashing around in the lake. There are the usual tourist traps that should be avoided in this place. For instance, the orphanage charges visitors additional fee for feeding the elephants. This is a complete scam as each person is allowed to hold the milk bottle for only 10 seconds.
Next day, I took a local bus to Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage and it was a relaxing one. You may start getting souvenirs here as I did not see similar thing can be done in Colombo. I didnt manage to find shops with souvenirs in Colombo. Not sure if Pettah Bazaar in Colombo has it. It was too busy for me to even try looking there.Try to avoid going to the herb's garden if you see people calling out to you. They will try their best to offer you a body massage using traditional herbal products and sell you stuff after inviting you for a demonstration. I felt weird and left after the whole thing finished. I did not feel comfortable with the guys there. Anyway, this is part of the journey... so, no complaints. Life goes on
Its worth a visit, en-route Negombo - Kandy
Good experience watching the wild (well, not exactly wild anymore) elephants roam freely. They are brought outside twice a day, reach on time (10 a.m. or 2 p.m.) to watch them feeding, then going to the river in herds for bathing.