Sri Lanka is without a doubt where you’ll find Asia’s finest wilderness havens. Among these biodiversity hot spots, destinations like Yala, Udawalawe and Sinharaja are where you can explore untamed terrains and timeless vistas. Then again, this is also where you’ll find unusual attractions like the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. An institution dedicated to protect and preserve the magnificent beasts of the wild, a trip here is truly an experience to treasure.
You can get here through the Colombo-Kandy main road (A1). Take the turn off the 82Km Kegalle sign post and you’ll find yourself at the entrance of the reserve. If you’re taking the train, note that the nearest railway station (Rambukkana station) is 2 Km away from the park.
A trip here will only set you back 16 US dollars. Kids get to pay a half-rate fee of 8 US dollars.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is one of the finest animal sanctuaries in the world. At the very core of their work are countless research and rehabilitation projects that work together to benefit these creatures. The sanctuary has actively been in service since 1975 and is currently home to over 93 elephants. Pinnawala also boasts a great location with access to a river and forest grounds. These features help create a favorable home that support these orphaned beauties.
The place is basically a nursery for baby elephants that have been abandoned or orphaned in the wild. The sanctuary also takes in adult elephants that are lost far away from their herds. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is where you’ll find the world’s largest herd of captive elephants. This heart-felt service has salvaged the lives of countless elephants, both young and old. Elephants in the wild that intrude into human villages are often killed and face traumatic conditions. The orphanage provides a safe and comfortable home to these victims, while also preparing them for possible release back into the wild.
The sanctuary works towards creating a more natural and comfortable surrounding for the elephants. On your visit here you’ll notice that this is pretty much an action in progress though. The place is still more of a captive breeding program that aims to sustain Asian elephant numbers. The place is managed by trained caretakers and experts who are actively enthusiastic in developing a stress-free, happy environment for these animals.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage opens at 8.30 AM. The place sees a lot of visitors, and can actually heat up pretty fast. Do bring a hat and have some sunscreen handy. You’ll see the little jumbos being bottle fed at 9.30 AM. Probably one of the cutest sights of the day, these playful babies will steal your heart away. Don’t forget your camera! The daily elephant bathing starts at 10.00 AM and goes on for about 2 hours. You can watch the elephants gamboling and messing about in the river while the keepers give them a good rub-down.
You can have your lunch at the main restaurant here. The food is pretty much okay and it’s not too pricey either. There’s another bottle feeding session at around 1 PM, if you want to hang around. Then the herd leaves for another dip in the river. You’ll also find a number of souvenir shops in the area with some pretty cool stuff. These little boutiques have everything from elephant-branded clothes to handbags and every accessory you can think of. It’s definitely worth your time to take a stroll around the place.