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“A nice short experience”

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 November 12, 2012

We passed by there on our way from Kandy to the airport .. The place is very smelly! We chose the shortest experience, as we didn't have time .. There are 3 in general .. We had a little tour, watched the elephants taking a bath, we rode the elephants which was an AMAZING experience, & then we fed them fruits :) .. In general, it's a lovely interesting thing to do, especially if you have kids ..

Thank Damdoom81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 11, 2012

I had a mixed trip here some good points some bad:

I arrived early before the park opened and the guide suggested taking an elephant ride. The ride was a little scary at first, its a LONG way down!! But the elephant walked incredibly slowly so felt safe. I asked for a half hour ride in which we went up a lane, back again a very quick paddle in the water and then that was it (I'm sure it was more like 15-20 minutes but I was pretty happy to have both feet on the ground). A half hour ride was 5,000 rupees and an hour ride would have been 10,000 - quite a lot in my opinion. But that was all fine my gripe here was with the staff. As soon as I had paid for the ride the guide was harrassing me to give the person who looked after the elephant a tip of 500 rupees. I really do not appreciate being harrassed in to doing something against my will, may be this is because I'm not from a 'tipping culture' but all the same I think it should be up to the individual on whether you give a tip or not. Anyway this man would not go away and I parted with a 500 rupee note. Then he held out his own hand repeatedly saying "tip" "tip" apart from a few 20 rupee notes I only had 2000 rupee notes and I'll be blown if I was giving him that. I gave him a bunch of 20 rupee notes and got away as fast as I could. I even wouldn't have minded so much had he been an informative guide but most of the time he was far ahead spitting on the ground. But I have to be fair to him he did take a couple of nice pictures....

I then paid 2000 rupees for entry into the orphanage. We went to see the elephants being fed this was lovely to see them interacting in a more wild way however again you were constantly harrassed by staff trying to get you to have your picture taken next to an elephant so they can have a tip. This continued for the whole visit, I understand this is the way they operate and also how the make money but it made me feel uncomfortable and pressured. I learnt not to make eyecontact and to ignore them if they talked to you.

I got taken on a tour of a botanical garden where there were some coco trees and cinnamon trees. I could tell this was the prelude to a sales pitch so I made it quite clear I wouldn't be buying anything to which he then just walked off.

After this we got to see the elephants bathing in the river and for me this was the absolute highlight. This is what I came here to see elephants playing and interacting with each other not the guides. There were some adorable young elephants who obviously loved bathing time and enjoyed every second.

I would love to see elephants again but would only go if it was a more wild environment, I love seeing them behave naturally not chained up. The elephants looked healthy and happy (to my eyes) so I'm not insuiating that they are poorly treated at all, I would just prefer to see them at a distance in future where they can play normally and I am not harrassed every few minutes by staff.

Just to add I do tip but where I feel the service warrants it but I hate doing it because I have been pressured into it.

Thank Holly B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 11, 2012

The whole point of us going to Sri Lanka was the Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage, before we got there our driver suggested we call in at a friends who had some disabled elephants, we agreed, it was a wonderful experience and just a few metres from the Orphanage, my girlfriend got to ride an Elephant down to the river and was absolutely soaked, we had lunch then moved on to the main attraction.
There is a bit of a walk onto the site which for me was a struggle but it was really worth all the struggle, all the elephants being shepharded down to the river in all there must of been 50, what a great site, really recommended.

Thank Will L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 9, 2012 via mobile

We passed by the orphanage on our way from Colombo to Kandy .
We reached just in time for the elephant feeding which was a nice experience .
We also got the chance to take memorable photos .. Highly recommended place .

1  Thank ollare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2012

Not to be missed place specially when you have kids with you on the trip. We did not go inside the orphanage as all the elephants were on the river for bath. Just ensure that you visit this place only if you have kids/children with you.

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

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