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Pinnawala Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Not all elephants are chained at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

I thought our kid would be happy with the view of elephants. At the time we were visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, kid hadn’t see a real elephant. So, we wanted to give him an exciting experience among the large animals. However Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was not a really attractive place for him. Instead he wanted to go out of the place! 🙁

Why? Well, it was same for me too. I remember few years ago I visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage as a school student in one of our school trips. That time this place was really attractive and looked lush. There were baby elephants who could really attract us.

Then I visited the elephant orphanage again in around 2009-2010 and the place looked totally deserted. Anyway that’s part of the stories and experiences we had before.

But, now the place looks different than before. It looks beautiful even at the entrance and it is with more facilities for the visitors including clean washrooms. We visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in November 2016 and pleased with the first view. So, here is our real experience with some tips which can be helpful for you if you plan a visit to this orphanage where elephants live!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage entrance

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is one of the best attractions for kids if you visit Sri Lanka. So we wanted to visit with our kid too thinking of watching elephants in action!

 Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
At the entrance of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
What is Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

The idea behind this elephant orphanage is really worth to protect the elephants. It is an orphanage founded with the aim of providing care and breeding facilities for the wild elephants who find in forests of Sri Lanka. With such care the orphanage helps to protect the wild elephants and helps to breed them. Under the care of the staff, young elephants who found abandoned by their mothers get a new shelter to live. Though the concept is in a debate among some activists around the world, it helps to save the lives of these abandoned young elephants. If there is no such place, such elephant calves will die in the wild without care and protection!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Things to do and see at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Elephants in this orphanage have a daily schedule to follow. If you visit there on the right time, you can easily watch these activities and even join with the activities such as feeding the elephants. Watching them bathing is another interesting thing you must watch during the visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

Below are some of the things you can do in your visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Though the thoughts about the elephants in this orphanage are different for different people, it is better to prepare for the activities if you visit there.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage schedule
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage daily schedule (As of November 2016)

Watch the beautiful elephants

Yes, this is one of the things anyone does there at the elephant orphanage. However, don’t just watch them. Elephants are really beautiful and you will see they love each other, care each other, walk, bath and many activities. Spend time to watch them closely and you’ll find that it is really worth watching them closely.

Feed the elephants

If you visit there at the right time, you can feed the baby elephants. This will be an interesting activity for anyone.

Watch the elephants leaving to the river (leaving for a bath)

This is one of the best views for me at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. The herd of elephants will leave the orphanage, cross the road and walk to the nearby river (Ma Oya) and they look so disciplined. They walk in a group but still in a line. In this recent trip we missed watching them walking across the road, but it is really a beautiful attraction you should not miss in Pinnawala!

Watch them bathing

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Bathing time @ Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Yes, elephants will be happily bath at the river (Ma Oya) and this is the best time to watch the happy elephants. If you visit with kids they will be happy to see the elephants having a bath playing with water and splashing water! Don’t miss the photo opportunities of these giants!

Shop local products and souvenirs

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Souvenir shops near the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Other than watching animals, you can also spend time shopping around. There are souvenir shops which sell items for a range of prices. You will also find souvenirs such as small elephant magnets for less than $1 which can be a good memory for any kid. Other than that there are clothing, leather bags and many other items which you can shop around. Don’t forget to spend some time for shopping!

Enjoy a Sri Lankan Meal

 Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage travel guide

There are restaurants around which you can enjoy Sri Lankan food. We had buffet lunch at the nearest restaurant in front of the Elephant Orphanage which served buffet which we found really worth trying.

Visit other nearby attractions

If you visit Pinnawala, the elephant orphanage is not the only attraction to visit. There are other attractions too including the Pinnawala Zoo which is less than 10 minutes walking distance away. Read about our visit to Pinnawala Zoo which we liked much!

Things to know before you visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Below are some helpful tips for you to prepare and plan your visit. Hope these details are helpful for you to enjoy a relaxing day at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage.

  • It will be really hot in a sunny day. Prepare with caps, sunscreens, sunglasses and simple clothing to beat the heat.
  • You need to buy tickets to enter into the orphanage.(Different rates for Sri Lankans/locals)
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage entrance fee (as of November 2016,in Sri Lankan Rupees)
  • Opening hours are 8.30am – 6pm.However if I visit there again, I will try to reach there in the morning or may be late afternoon to avoid the heat. We reached there around 11am which was really hot, so we (specially the kid) didn’t enjoy the place.
  • Prepare with water
  • Snacks and water will be helpful for you to spend the time there. You can easily buy food and water at Pinnawala as there are many local shops around.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
An effort to take a picture when this elephant splashes dust! 🙂

 

  • Finally, enjoy your day. Don’t spoil your time watching the chained elephants, criticizing the orphanage. Instead spend time to watch them growing under good care. They are abandoned young elephants and they are under care of the orphanage management!
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – Is it worth visiting? Is it ethical?

Is Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage an ethical place to visit? This is a common argument that is in doubt or debate these days. Though I don’t want to write most of my views, I simply want to highlight few of my thoughts and observations.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

First, it is a place for raising abandoned elephants or elephants that are violent. If there is no such place to take care of these baby elephants, they would have died in the wild. At the same time, do you know that there are people dying in Sri Lanka rural places due to elephant attacks? The Human Elephant Conflict is a raising problem in Sri Lanka due to many reasons. There are political reasons and other reasons behind this problem. But, still the solutions do not work well!

Anyway, the place can be kept only as a place for taking care of elephants, not for earning tourist income. But, we may need to consider the cost of maintaining this place as well.

It is common that many writers and tourists point out the chained elephants in Elephant Orphanage. With incidents of history and even recent stories, I will never visit a place which elephants are roaming freely and happily without guides or mahouts. I know they can attack human anytime! In Sri Lanka it is common to see elephants under the guard of mahouts. Therefore as someone born and raised in Sri Lanka, these chained elephants walking with mahouts is a common sight which I do not see anything wrong. The Sri Lankan culture is attached with elephants in many events including ‘Perahara festival’.

Finally,to the topic!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – Is it a Must Visit in Sri Lanka?

Above are all about tips to visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage including our experiences there. Think twice before you visit this place. If you are against animal tourism, then avoid Pinnawala. Save time to other attractions along the Colombo Kandy road. There are many other historical places you can admire and most of those are free attractions!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Not all elephants are chained at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

If you travel with kids or if you love to watch elephants closely and want to take some photographs, Pinnawala can be an ideal place for you. Then don’t miss this Elephant Orphanage. There is also a mini zoo which you can consider visiting. Pinnawala can be the best place for some souvenir hunting too!

However, for me this is not the best place to watch elephants. It is not a zoo either. If you really like to watch elephants who roam freely in the wild, there are many such natural places in Sri Lanka. Udawalawa or Yala national parks are few of the places only. If you visit Minneriya National Park, you can watch elephants or if you use the Habarana road to visit Polonnaruwa, you will see places which elephants cross the road. Plan your Sri Lanka tour including such national parks and avoid the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. However, if your tour plan includes Kandy Tooth Relic Temple, then Pinnawala is along the way to Kandy (Colombo Kandy Road). So, it is easy to stop here and spend few hours!

Accommodation in Pinnawala

In Pinnawala you will find many beautiful locations to stay.The village itself is a beautiful area with the beautiful river view of Ma Oya.

Check  Agoda for accommodation recommendations.

Also check Airbnb for accommodation for reasonable rates.Using my link you will get upto $50 travel credits for your first booking.

 

How to reach Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located at Pinnawala (Kegalle district) which is easy to access via Colombo Kandy road. If you are a foreign tourist, joining with a tour planner in Sri Lanka will be much easier or otherwise Rambukkana railway station is the nearby railway station.

Hope this post will be a helpful travel guide to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage if you plan a Sri Lanka holiday. Have you been to Sri Lanka before?

 

Pinnawala Zoo

Our visit to the Pinnawala Open zoo was really enjoyable. Although there are few animals there, it is a great place to unwind. Waddling ducks, hopping rabbits and ready to fight roosters and other fowls at the entrance of the Pinnawala Zoo invited us to enter into the zoo. So, we bought tickets and entered into the zoo to watch this newly built mini zoo of Sri Lanka.

Check this post about Pinnawala Zoo  if you like to see the photos of animals in the zoo.

Pinnawala Open Zoo
Peaceful views of the Pinnawala open Zoo

It is spacious. It is relaxing and it is peaceful. While our son enjoying his time watching animals, I spent time experiencing the fresh air and beautiful views. The views relaxed me and helped me to unwind. Like in many other places we visited, I did not want to pay close attention for my kid as it was less crowded and safe for kids to run here and there. He was happily spending his time with his father, so I could have some sort of ‘me time’ for me.

Pinnawala Open Zoo
Our kid enjoyed his time freely.

 

Pinnawala  Zoo
Lot of running till he was tired! 🙂

Here are some of the views I captured from the Pinnawala open Zoo. Hope you like to go through these views around the zoo.

Pinnawala Open Zoo
Pinnawala Open Zoo

 

Pinnawala Open Zoo
Beautiful trees and spacious land added more beauty to the Pinnawala open zoo

 

Pinnawala Open Zoo
I like these views with man-made structures

 

Pinnawala Open Zoo
A viewing point at the Pinnawala Zoo

 

Father and son had great bonding time there 🙂

Have you been to Sri Lanka?In Sri Lanka,Kandy is a must visit location.Pinnawala is located in Colombo Kandy road near Kegalle/Rambukkana. If you visit Sri Lanka,Kandy then don’t forget to stop at Pinnawala and visit this zoo and the most popular Elephant Orphanage!

 

Pinnawala Zoo

When it comes to travel with kids, a visit to a zoo is always exciting and interesting for them. That is why we decided to visit Pinnawala Zoo during our recent Sri Lanka holiday thinking this would be a good experience for our kid. When it comes to Pinnawala Sri Lanka, we cannot miss a visit to the popular attraction of Pinnawala. That is elephant orphanage of Pinnawala. After our visit to the Elephant Orphanage then we visited the Pinnawala open concept zoo which is a kind of a mini zoo. This zoo is located in few minutes walking distance from the pinnawala elephant orphanage.

Pinnawala Zoo Sri Lanka
At the entrance of the zoo there are domestic animals roaming freely.
 Sri Lanka Pinnawala Zoo
Waddling ducks create a beautiful scene for kids
 Sri Lanka Pinnawala Zoo
A moment from the Pinnawala Zoo
 Sri Lanka Pinnawala Zoo
We also found a star tortoise

Still, the zoo is with few exhibits, but is beautiful and looks natural. Although buildings and structures look new, the landscapes are really beautiful. Our kid enjoyed the Pinnawala zoo than the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. He loved to watch the animals and enjoyed his time running here and there along the beautiful and spacious foot paths of the zoo. For a family bonding time, it is really worth visiting this Pinnawala zoo.

Pinnawala Zoo
It is a bear!

Just see some of our moments and photographs from the Sri Lankan Pinnawala Zoo!

Pinnawala Zoo Sri Lanka Review
We found this baby pangolin with his caretaker.

Here are some more moments from our visit.

This donkey was eating straw when we were at the Pinnawala zoo 🙂 (Nothing special to mention here)
Spotted deer
Is it worth visiting the Pinnawala Zoo Sri Lanka?

Well, this is my opinion. Still this zoo is with few animals. So, if you really want to watch different animals, this is not the zoo you have to visit. Instead, Colombo zoo is with lot of different species. However, if you like to spend time with kids and family or if you love to enjoy your time among the beautiful and spacious landscapes, then this mini zoo in Pinnawala is ideal.

Pinnawala Zoo Sri Lanka
The Pinnawala Zoo is with lot of beautiful views and landscapes

If you live in Sri Lanka,Pinnawala can be an ideal getaway for a holiday or even on a weekend.Other than this Pinnawala Zoo,there are few other attractions in Pinnawala including Elephant Orphanage and Pinnawala Iperanigama Theme Park.You can easily spend a day in activities with the family and kids.

If you are travelling with kids to Sri Lanka and if you visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage while you are on the way to Kandy,  then Pinnawala Zoo can be a good place to entertain the kids. My kid  loved this zoo than the elephant orphanage.

Pinnawala Zoo
The Pinnawala zoo is ideal to spend quality time with kids.It is not crowded.Also it is spacious and relaxing.

However,if you are in Sri Lanka for a really short or few days holiday, then there are many other attractions which are ancient and unique to Sri Lanka. I believe visiting such ancient sites which are along the Colombo Kandy road is worth considering the short period of time you stay in Sri Lanka. We also visited places such as Gadaladeniya Viharaya, Lankathilaka Viharaya and Ambakke which are with some ancient value.

But, it seems the pinnawala zoo is still under development. It will be a major attraction in Pinnawala in near future!

How to reach Pinnawala Zoo?

Pinnawala zoo is located along the Rambukkana Road just near to the Elephant Orphanage.

You may need at least 2 hours to cover this zoo.

Have you been to Sri Lanka before? How was your experience among the attractions?

 

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