Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Back on the main road, the highway climbs sharply to the busy town of KEGALLE, crowded into a single hectic main street along the side of an higher ridge .The top of the cute yellow clocktower is said to be modelled on the hat of a British governor . Just beyond Kegalle, and some 40km west of Kandy, a turn-off heads to the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage ,one of Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions.
Initially created to protect abandoned or orphaned elephants, it’s one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions. Some people love the place and the opportunity it gives to get up close and cuddly with elephants.
There are around 80 elephants of all ages. The creatures are largely well looked after by their mahouts, who ensure they feed at the right times and don’t endanger anyone. Otherwise the elephants roam freely around the sanctuary area. The elephants are driven across the road to the Ma Oya river for a leisurely bath daily from 10am to noon and from 2pm to 4pm. Meal times are 9.15am, 1.15pm and 5pm. For Rs 250 you can bottle feed a baby elephant .You can observe their antics from the riverbank or, in greater comfort and for the price of an expensive drink, from the terraces of the Pinnalanda or Elephant Park Hotel restaurants above the river. The afternoon light is better for photographs, but there are also more visitors at that time. If it’s been raining heavily, bathing in the river is sometimes cancelled as the waters are too high.
Getting There and Away
The orphanage is a few kilometres north of the Colombo–Kandy road. From Kandy take a bus to Kegalle. Get off before Kegalle at Karandunpona Junction . From the junction, catch bus 881 going from Kegalle to Rambukkana and get off at Pinnewala. A three-wheeler from the junction to Pinnewala is around Rs 300. It’s about an hour from Kandy to the junction, and 10 minutes from the junction to Pinnewala. Buses also link Colombo and Kegalle. Rambukkana station on the Colombo–Kandy railway is about 3km north of the orphanage and all trains travelling this route stop there. From Rambukkana get a bus going towards Kegalle.
Sleeping & Eating
Most people visit Pinnewala as a day trip, but there are also a few OK guesthouses at Pinnewala if it’s too late to push on to Kandy from Colombo. if you come just for lunch then you will be made to pay the orphanage entrance fee as well .If you stay the night at one of them you don’t need to pay to watch the elephants frolicking in the river at lunchtime but you do need to pay to enter the orphanage .
There are lots of handicraft shops around the village (especially along the road leading from the orphanage to the river) with a wide range of stock, including leather goods and elephant paper (which is also sold at the orphanage)
The Millennium Elephant Foundation
Two kilometres from Pinnewala, on the Karandupona–Kandy road, the Millennium Elephant Foundation; admission Rs 600, elephant rides per 30min Rs 3000; 8am-5pm) is similar but slightly different, with a number of elephants rescued from situations as retirement from working in temples. Volunteers are welcome at the foundation and the facility also supports a mobile veterinary service. Guides will tell you everything you need to know about elephants and demonstrate how they are trained to work; you can also help clean them and interact with them, and it’s possible to do voluntary work with the Foundation’s mobile veterinary unit.Volunteer placements last at least a month