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Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Dubai
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Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

My family will be holidaying in Sri Lanka in January. We will be spending 5 days in Negombo and my 3 year old daughter desperately wants to see the elephants. Does anyone know how long it takes to get there from Negombo? Can anyone recommend a tour company and knows how much it would cost? Any contact details would really be appreciated.

Fredericia, Denmark
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1. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Hi,

Hiring a car/van with driver it will take about 1.5 hours each way from Negombo to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Count on around LKR 5,000 for the transport.

You will have no problem finding drivers in Negombo. There are quite a few tour offices along Lewis Place and Poruthota Road (where the hotels are located).

Hans

surrey
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2. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Hi

We have just got back from Sri Lanka and went to Pinnawala elephant orphanage. A word of warning is that many of the elephants are chained up and when we went there was a blind male elephant that was chained under a shelter and kept merely for tourist entertainment.

It wasnt the nicest way to see elephants and since bign back I have read a few reports that the welfare of the elephants there is a worry to some animal welfare organisations. I would reccomend you contact the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) in Udawalawe, in Southern Sri Lanka. This facility takes in baby wild elephants that have been separated from their mothers, and cares for them until they can be returned to the wild. Although Pinnewala may not be able to return its animals to the wild, it could certainly provide them with a more ‘natural’ life, as the protocols at the ETH demonstrate.

Have a great trip!

UK
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3. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Hi,

I agree Pinawella elephant orphanage is very touristy and probably making money is the prime objective over caring for the elephants.

But,

The elephants are still well looked after.

Yes, there's usually a few there that are chained.

Male elephants come into season. It's called coming into "must". During this time you can usually see a chemical, loaded with hormones secretted from near the animals eye. Looks like it's crying. It isn't.

Male elephants in must can be very unpredictable in their behavior and an unpredictable elephant can be a danger to everyone.; So, they are chained so as to render them controllable.

The blind elephant.. yes he's there and has been for a long time. He's kept seperate because that way he has a more comfortable life than he would having to compete with sighted elephants for food, etc.

He became blind because he was shot by poachers. he was rescued, nursed back to health as far as possible and looked after since then.

There's also another forlorn looking cow elephant, she lost a foot to a land mine, again, many years ago. It's very very sad to see her struggling along trying to keep up with all the healthy animals but she manages and I think thats better than shooting her.

So, out of about 70 to 80 elephants, there are usually, two or three chained, one cripple , one blind Oh yea, and about 70 ish, fit, happy and healthy animals.

Don't forget, although it's very touristy, the original reason the orphanage was set up was to care for the animals, including the lame and the old.

I've seen plenty of tourist youngsters of all ages at Pinawella and taken quite a few local kids there.

They all loved the place.

Rod.

Edited: 3:02 pm, October 25, 2010
Loch Lomond
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4. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Great post Rod. I will be staying in Negombo from 29/11 and my wife wants to go to Pinawala. This is reassuring.

Loch Lomond
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5. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Well I have now been and I have to say that this is a bit of a rip off. £12 a head to visit the orphanage and it's all over in ten minutes. The workers there put you under constant pressure to have your pictures taken with the elephants then expect a tip for this.

Granted you can have an expensive lunch afterwards in one of the restaurants overlooking the river as the elephants are bathing but the cynic in me tells me that the elephants are very much a secondary part in an obvious money making exercise. £12 is incredibly expensive by Si Lankan standards. (You can get a decent meal for two with drinks for £12 in Negombo.)

Fredericia, Denmark
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6. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Agreed. The entrance fee is pricey, but all over in 10 minutes is your own fault. When I was there last time I followed the elephants back to the orphanage from their morning bath and spent nearly an hour close to the elephants in the field until it was time for the bottle feeding of the baby elephants.

I did not feel under any pressure. I took a lot of photos including the bottle feeding and was never asked for a tip.

Hans

UK
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7. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

Hi,

I have tio agree with Erik.. Expensive by Sri Lankan standards, yes it is but a 10 minute visit is not what you pay for..

Last time I went, it was to take a Kandian family, husband wife and two kids, who had never been there.

We arrived about 11 AM, buying a picnic lunch on the way, watched the elephants playing in the river, went up to the feeding ground where we took loads of photo,s of the kids with the elephants, watched the bottle feeding, then the kids dragged us back to the herd again.

We eventually managed to get away about 3:0 PM, and if we'd wanted to stay longer we could have done.

We did get asked , by some of the mahouts , to pay them when we took photo,s .. We just said no, and took the opics anyway.

I can't imagine why anyone would go there to stay only 10 minutes.

Rod.

St Austell
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8. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

"We did get asked , by some of the mahouts , to pay them when we took photo,s .. We just said no, and took the opics anyway."

Hurray for Rod. I wish a few more people did the same!

Sue

Loch Lomond
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9. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

I am sorry that some of you disagree but certainly I don't see this as being "my own fault". We were advised that the feeding time was 13.15 so we arrived in time for this. We were directed up to an open area where several elephants were lined up. The mahouts as you call them put us under pressure to pay them to take pictures, "stand here", "hold this stick", "give me tip" etc. with no discussion and no information offered at any time about the elephants.

We were then directed down to the big shed where they wanted another 500 rupees for a bottle of milk to feed the babies. Of course you didn't have to pay this but by the time we had got there the feeding was almost done anyway.

We then stood and looked at each other wondering what to do next and realised that the "show" was basically over. I am sure that we could have stood around looking at the elephants for a little longer but they were about to be herded down to the river for their bath and we were basically ushered down there with everyone else.

At no time did anyone speak to us or offer any information. If I had been charged this in the UK for a similar experience I would have had much more to say about it. Let's face it £12 is more than a weeks wages for most people over there. That is an incredibly inflated price to pay to watch elephants that are basically being exploited and the vast majority of the money is clearly not going into making the experience any better for the visitors.

I would also say that calling this an "orphanage" is emotive and designed to generate sympathy and goodwill. I think a better name would be an elephant prison. I am clearly no expert in matters pachyderm but if they are really concerned about the elephant's welfare why not just release them back into the wild?

England
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10. Re: Visit to the Elephant orphange (from Negombo)

I visited the orphanage 2 years ago and had some reservations my self before going. There were lots of signs saying "do not tip mahouts" so the choice to tip is entirely down to the individual. The elephants were well looked after and the ones that were restrained was for the safety of the public. The big bull I believe is Rajah and is seperated for his benefit and safety as he is blind, he is also taken down to the river on his own for his and public safety. When you consider the animals are not in the wild, food has to be collected and delivered, shelter, handling and welfare maintained I think the cost is reasonable. OK profit is made as in any business but maintaining an animal sanctury of any sorts is not cheap.

TA is a great source of information for deciding where to go and research prices and make informed decisions. £12 for me is cheap to get near some of the most fantastic creatures on earth.

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