Passing Through: Pinnawela

Our journey took place in January 2013

With approximately 100 elephants, you will certainly get a chance to view these charming creatures here, in captivity. Established in 1975, this elephant orphanage is located in Pinnawela near the town of Kegalle. If travelling between Colombo or the airport and Kandy or further north towards Sigiriya, you can drop in here.

Many elephants are injured, maimed or orphaned in the surrounding wilderness and farmland, so if discovered, they are brought here for care and continue to reside here with a new family and herd.

Morning, lunchtime and early evening bottle feeding of the calves are popular with visitors – certainly very cute and lucky members of the willing audience can have a go at giving the milk bottle feed too.

If the $16 entrance fee is too steep, you prefer to see the mammals in the wild or have reservations about animal welfare in captivity, you can catch a peek during bathing time instead.

At 10:00 and 14:00 each day, they are taken to the nearby Maya Oya (River) just outside the entrance gates for a 2 hour bath and fun.

You can witness the procession through the mini village of Pinnawela or walk to the river and watch the frolicking in the water. This is a thorougly enjoyable experience and a chance to see the playful side of these cute, majestic giants.

While you wait, you can get a cool drink or snack from the many stalls and restaurants along the road or jostle for a table at one of the river-side restaurants to enjoy the view in comfort – but get there early if you are a large group, because these restaurants become very popular at bath time.

Alternatively, find a spot on the rocky bank and be prepared for photographic mayhem when the elephants arrive!



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