We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Its actually ok” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Pinnawala
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Level Contributor
21 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Its actually ok”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 31, 2013

After reading the reviews on here, and being a real animal lover, I was a little apprehensive about what I would find at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. However I left the orphanage pleasantly surprised. The majority of the elephants are able to wonder about free... I was expecting all the elephants to have chains on but this was not the case. There are a couple of the male elephants that were chained up but this was only while they were moving the rest of the herd. The baby elephants had a small chain on one leg during their milk time, but this was only to keep them in one place. One of the babies escaped their chain and started wondering around. At no point did the staff attempt to frighten the baby back, they were guided back carefully and the staff thought it was just as funny as we did.
When the elephants went down to the river again only the male elephants had a leg chain on and as soon as they got to the water these were all taken off while I was delighted about.
You can of course argue the ethics behind the centre... Yes they are breeding and maybe more should be done to attempt to reintroduce these elephants back in to the wild. But on the whole, I felt as though the elephants there were well looked after and were happy.
If you want to feed a baby elephant (again not possibly the best thing but it helps towards the cost of milk) then you need to get to the orphanage for about 8.30 as there is a limit to the amount of people who can do it. At about 9.45 make your way down to the river, you can get a very reasonably priced drink and prime viewing spot from the little cafe/restaurant and watch as the herd comes racing down the street. Unmissable!

Visited August 2012
6 Thank Sleepychaos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

2,884 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Arabic first
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Hebrew first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Slovak first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Elephant bath”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2013

Still down to the river when the elephants are taken for a bath and enjoy watching them have fun in the water and playing. You will not feel the time go by.

Visited June 2013
Thank kanil65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartlepool, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
50 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“A lovely way to see the elephants”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2013

This place takes in injured elephants and also allows them to breed in the care of professionals. Okay so they have a chain on one leg which is attached to a hook on the ground for when they are in public and getting washed or fed. This may be slightly cruel but it is for everyone's safety and they tend to go for runs and some may attack but they do spend a lot of time roaming free around the orphanage land and in the river.

It is amazing to see so many elephants. you can see some are injured with missing legs or missing feet and some a heavily pregnant and there are little babies which you can feed milk with an extra ticket which is about £2.50 or 500 rupees. You can touch them and feed them and it amazing! Twice a day they walk down to the river and get a wash and have a play and I could sit there all day and watch them. They are amazing creatures and I would recommend going their. This orphanage seems the most official one in Pinnawala, there are other ones but they seem to just be robbing tourists and treating elephants badly. In Pinnawala you can find places to ride an elephant too. But this place is definitely the best, you pay around £5-£10 and you can stay there all day and watch them. You can feed them fruit too for about £2.50.

Definitely a must!

Visited July 2013
2 Thank AlexaBostwick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“more like a zoo - don't go there, go on a safari!”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 29, 2013

It's hard to call this place as an Orphanage, as it is a zoo-like attraction that the local area depends on very heavily to bring tourists and their money, and seems more to do with making money than saving elephants.

It's probably not fair to make a judgement of the people who work in and around this attraction, as I'm sure some of these elephants would have been killed if they weren't brought here, and the locals are making a better life for themselves.

I'm sure some good is being done, however it's still sad and depressing to see animals being exploited and tourists having to pay a hefty price to see it.

We were lucky enough to see wild elephants, without chains around their legs and without 'handlers' threatening them with sharp sticks, which was far more exciting.

Save your time and money and go on a safari further east and see wild elephants!

Visited May 2013
Thank Chrackie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
letchworth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 29, 2013

Its a must visit place for any animal lovers. The elephants are all very cares for and visiters are able to get right up close but you will be asked to pay something. The actual site also has an entry fee, one rate for locals and one rate for tourists like everythink else in Sri Lanka!

Visited August 2012
Thank krishan_07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage also viewed

Kegalle, Sabaragamuwa Province
Peradeniya, Central Province

Been to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing