Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Bull Elephant

Sri Lanka is famous for its elephant sanctuaries. The best known is the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. Get here in the morning and you will be able to visit the animals in their sanctuary. It's relatively expensive to get in, but of course they rely on tourism to support over two hundred elephants so it's worthwhile. All ages of animals are here including some giants, and you will be able to get close and touch most of them.

There are one or two bull elephants that are chained. This is a much discussed controversy, but the official line is that they are too dangerous to be walking free. Many animals are rescued from serious mis-treatment so this seems quite plausible.

When you first arrive you will be free to walk around and interact with many elephants. You will be able to take photographs, and many staff will be on hand to help you with this and to provide food to give them. You will be expected to give small amounts of money to any staff that help you, and they will not be shy in asking. Make sure you have plenty of small value notes for this, and don't be afraid to say no when you feel you have given enough. Unfortunately they will keep asking and you will need to be firm.

The next event of the day is feeding the babies. You pay a fee hundred rupees to buy a bottle of milk, then you can watch as this is fed to the baby elephants (calf). There are two or three being fed each time, and they will get through twenty bottles each in a matter of a few minutes. So, value for money it isn't but of course the experience is great for children and it is in a good cause. There are three feeding sessions during the day - around 9am, 1pm and 5pm.

Pinnawala Elephants Walking To Bathe

The highlight of your visit to Pinnawala will be the walk to the river. All the elephants will walk freely through the small town down to the river to bathe. You can sit at the riverside (there's a cafe/bar) or you can just stand on the street and watch them. They will take this trip at about 10am and stay for two hours playing, washing and keeping cool, before taking the walk back and then this is repeated in the afternoon at around 2pm.

Some of the residents here have had a tough life, and we saw one relatively famous three-legged elephant who was unfortunate enough to have stepped on a land-mine during the troubles in the north. The elephants will walk quite a long way down and across the river.

Club Concept Elephant Bath

If you have the time drop in to the Club Concept Elephant Bath - just a short drive from the orphanage - where you can ride an elephant and visit the small museum. The elephant bath will get you very wet so take a change of clothes; and of course don't forget to take some small change for tips (around Rs 500-1000 is appropriate)

Baby Elephant Bathing Elephants Bathing Pinnawala Bull Elephant Pinnawala Elephants Bathing Elephants Bathing

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