At the time I was travelling from Colombo to Kandy in Sri Lanka, I didn’t even know the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage existed. I saw a few signs and my driver asked if I wanted to stop by; I love elephants so of course I did. Not sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t really as much of a zoo-type facility as I presumed. For the 2 hours I was there the elephants (most of them) were free to roam around and play in the river as they pleased.
Bottle feeding baby elephants
Herd leaves to go play in river
Elephants return from river
More Bottle feeding baby elephants
Herd leaves to go play in river again
Return from the river
Bottle feed baby elephants again
Ticket counter closes
Apparently I missed the bottle feeding time, but pretty much as soon as I arrived they began marching the elephants down a dirt road towards the river. They stopped traffic on the main highway to let the elephants cross, and a couple hundred meters later they arrived at the river. The entry fee for foreign adults is Rs. 2000, about $18 US, which I found expensive being in Sri Lanka, but I had just arrived and didn’t know better yet (see article: Would You Expect Sri Lanka To Be Cheap?).
Over all the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was very cool to visit for a couple hours. You get to see a bunch of elephants playing in the river in an environment which they enjoy, and is pretty rare to experience firsthand. If you’re around the cultural triangle area, especially on the Kandy corner, be sure to make the short trip down to check out the Elephants.
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