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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Pinnawala
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed May 23, 2011

There is a entry fee for foreign visitors. Place is quite good and was told that there were 80 elephants here. We could see around 4 baby elephants and one of them was 3 days old. Elephants are taken to the river for bathing which is across the road, they are taken in batches. Elephants are pretty well looked after in this place.

1  Thank ms27sud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 22, 2011

The "elephant orphanage" is a refuge for old, maimed or otherwise unwanted elephants. It is extremely rare to see working elephants in Sri Lanka these days. You can see some in the wild if you are lucky and go on safari (such as Yala).
But these are rather artificial surroundings and the animals are not in the wild habitat, but I really I really can't understand the people who say "don't go there" or say the elephants are all chained up. It's just been the case when I have been there (more than once).
It was the same in April 2011 as it was in January 2006 on my previous visit and I loved it. At 2,000 LKR per head it is not a bargain, but it is a great way to see elephants close up and get some fabulous photos. The only thing I didn't like before was the feeding milk to the baby elephants from bottles (it may have changed in 5 years but probably not).
It's best to arrive so you get to see the elephants bathing. But before and after that they live across the road and most roam freely. Just a handful of elephants there have been chained up and they don't go down to the river either - that is for the safety of the public. The best time is when the siren sounds and the elephants all march en masse out of the river.
You can sit in a cafe and watch them from afar if you don't want to go close. I think it is great experience for all ages. Not sure I would make a special trip from Colombo just for that - but combine it with other sights in the Kandy area.
There was no free parking at Pinnawala so it also cost an additional 100 LKR on a piece of wasteland nearby. We didn't bother with the souvenir shops that also line the lane down to the river.
Our driver/guide made sure we got to see the elephants bathing and thought we would not want to go inside as well. But it is worth it and taking the time to enjoy the unique experience.

1  Thank ilovemiddleeast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2011

I found our visit to pinnawala very disappointing. The elephants were eating and were all chained up at the time. Only the babies were allowed to roam free. The people working there are opportunists of the worst kind and ask for money for everything which definitely puts a damper on the visit. Some of the elephants are also clearly distressed and rock back and forth in their chains. It would be good to have someone around to tell you a little about the elephants but there was no one in sight when we were there. All around disappointing.

5  Thank Ottosworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2011

We have just come back from Shri Lanka, the people were good and the places we saw were good, except the elephant orphanage. If you have any emotions for elephants or animals please do not go and support this place. I found that the Shri Lankan people who worked here were consistently prodding an poking these poor animal with long pointed sticks and continually forcing these animals to perform for the public for a few tips. The whole experience disturbed me and from here I would not go near any other elephant attraction to see what I considered was animal cruelty. If this attraction were in England then this place would have been shut down for the way it treats its animals.

6  Thank levi061
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2011

Pinnewala is a good place to be in, specially if you like elephants. The place offers various facilities like Feeding milk to baby elephants, bathing elephants, ride etc.

We took the bathing one and it was very good. the mahaut actually made us give a bath to the elephant (and we also got drenched...)
The elephant ride was unique. Unlike in other places, they dont use saddles here. Meaning, you sit on the animal directly (with just a cloth mat on it). So, be prepared for that! Elephant hair is long and pirckly though, so its not very comfortable and stable, but it gives a raw feeling! i liked it.

There are quite a few folks there who want to rip you off, not very common in Sri Lanka, but at this place yes - so do watch out for it.

2  Thank arahul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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