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The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Updated on 10.06.2018

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, although very touristic, is the perfect place to observe elephants. All information, advice and tips to prepare your visit. There you cannot have a ride on their backs, but it is a beautiful site with lots of elephants.

Elephants from the orphanage bathe in a river in Sri Lanka

Useful information

The site is located between Colombo and Kandy, about an hour away. Better to integrate it in your circuit from the start. The adult entrance costs 2500 LKR. In addition you can buy a right to feed baby elephants, or to swim with an elephant (for children in general). Better to arrive at 1pm to attend the bottle feeding elephants, then their output to the river, where you can restore around 2pm admiring the herd of elephants swimming freely.

Step 1: Baby bottles for baby elephants

Orphaned elephants are bottle-fed. In fact the operation is very expeditious since they swallow each bottle in a few seconds. If you bought a bottle right then you risk staying on your hunger. The operation takes place in a small arena with platforms all around. It is better to arrive in advance at 1pm to have the best seats, which are standing behind the lowest barrier: this is where the children will give the bottle, and therefore where you will see the most elephants.

At the Pinnawala orphanage in Sri Lanka, a baby elephant is bottle-fed

Step 2: Meeting with adult elephants

Then, go to the meadow to make contact with the herd of elephants and take photos in all angles. Elephant trainers ask for the room to take the photos.

Elephant herd at Pinnawala orphanage in Sri Lanka

Step 3: The release of the flock

Just before 2 pm, stand in front of the main street side door to see the herd of elephants coming out (at the corner of the jewelry store). Then follow the flock to the river.

Elephant outing at Pinnawala Orphanage in Sri Lanka

The whole herd goes for more than an hour to bathe in the river in freedom. It is possible to wash them by giving money to their masters.

Elephants of the Pinnawala orphanage in Sri Lanka bathing in the river

The place is very nice. Take a table on the terrace of the restaurant overlooking the river for lunch.

Map and location of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located between Colombo and Kandy. To incorporate it into your travel itinerary, see our tips on our article on recommended itineraries to visit Sri Lanka

Location of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage) on the map of Sri Lanka ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Detailed map of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (Pinnawela Elephant Orphenage) with location of recommended hotels ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Questions & answers

When is the best time to visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

We advise you to arrive around 12.30pm, which will give you the time to buy your tickets and be on the front line for feeding elephants, then for swimming in the river.

How long does it take to travel from Kandy to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

By car, it takes about 1h30 from the center of Kandy.

How long is it between Kandy Botanical Garden and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

There is approximately 1h15 drive from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kandy to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

How long does it take to travel from Colombo to Elephant Orphanage?

From the airport (or Negombo), the car ride will take a little over two hours. From the city center, it takes at least 3 hours, or more if there are traffic jams.

Is it possible to go to the elephant orphanage by train?

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located near the railway line connecting Colombo to Kandy. It will take a train that stops at Rambukkana station, then take a tuk-tuk to cover the remaining 3 kilometers.

How much does entry cost to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Entrance to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage costs 2500LKR per adult, children from 3 to 12 years old get 50% discount, free for children under 3 years old.

What are the opening hours of the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala?

The site is open every day from 8.30am to 5.30pm. It is advisable to arrive between 12pm and 1pm.

Where can I find official information about the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala?

The official website of the Sri Lankan government zoos has a section dedicated to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage http://nationalzoo.gov.lk/elephantorphanage/

What are the good restaurants near the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala?

In front of the entrance, down the street to the river, two restaurants have beautiful terraces with a breathtaking view of the river where elephants take their bath (between 2pm and 3pm), with good food and reasonable prices.

What hotel to take near the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Without hesitation, bool one of the two 3-star hotels by the river: Hotel Pinnalanda or Hotel Elephant Park. Both have beautiful restaurants overlooking the river where elephants bathe. If your budget is tighter, choose the Green Land Guest House.

Cheap small hotel tips near the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Choose the Guest house Green Land or the Elephant Reach Villa Pinnawala.

What is the amount of gratuities at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

In addition to entry fees, there are many opportunities to interact with elephants by taking pictures, or even taking a bath with them, under the supervision of their guardians. In this case it is advisable to give them a tip. 200LKR per person is a good starting point.

Are there any luxury hotels near the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage?

Not in the immediate vicinity, you will have to look to Colombo or Kandy for establishments superior to 3 stars.

How to get to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage by bus?

There are many buses leaving from Colombo or Kandy that stop near the orphanage, but it will be easier for you to catch the train.

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