Every time we returned to Colombo from Kandy, we made it a point to see Pinnawala. Pinnawala can be reached by A1 Colombo Kandy road with a turn off at Kegalle. It’s approximately 85 kms from Colombo and is a 3 hour ride.
It is a unique elephant orphanage where orphaned elephants are lovingly taken care of; something unheard of in most parts of the world when elephants are killed for their tusks. Both adult-elephants and baby elephants maimed or orphaned in the crossfire during the war or by villagers protecting their paddy fields are sheltered here.
Tickets costing around $20 are a must. The best time to visit Pinnawala is after 1 pm. We were always in time to watch hordes of these majestic creatures lazily strolling towards the river Maha Oya for their bath. Watching the baby elephants playing in the water is really a sight to behold. Photos can be taken up very close. At 5pm, one can participate in the bottle feeding of the elephants at the main center where one can watch the babies greedily quaffing the milk.
The fun part is the shops lining the lanes leading up to the river. One can buy interesting souvenirs ranging from leather bags to elephant-poop papers and bags. Bargaining is a must.
All in all, a wonderful experience.
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