Visiting Colombo gives one an opportunity to go on one day excursions out of Colombo. One such single day tour is the Pinnawela-Kandy tour. Went on the internet and found http://www.colombo-travel.com/ offering day tours to Pinnawela and Kandy for $60.00. Fernando the driver cum guide was at the hotel next morning to take me on my trip. Our first stop was Pinnawela which is 90 Kms from Colombo - a 2.5 hour drive. The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was established by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department in 1975 to take care of orphaned baby elephants
There is an entry fee to visit the orphanage. If you are from one of SAARC countries, the fee is just Rs 500 ( $6) whereas for visitors from other countries, the fee is four times higher - Rs 2000 ($ 24) plus another $ 5.00 if you have a video camera. The elephant young are fed at 8 AM - be sure to reach the orphanage before this time. Feeding lasts for 2 hours after which the elephants are led to the bathing area in the river Maha Oya. The bathing area is surrounded by cafes and seating where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or fresh juice and watch the elephants in the water.
Tourists watching the elephants
The elephants are bathed in the river for 2 hours after which they are led back to their resting place. It is possible to get close to them and also offer some food to them.
Tourists offering food to a Baby Elephant
The orphanage is doing commendable job looking after these orphaned elephants. These animals are released into the wild only after they have matured and can take of themselves which is usually when they are around 5 years old.
You can also sport this lame elephant who was rescued by the orphanage and has been here since the last 3 years.
A tired baby elephant resting its trunk
As you head back, do not forget to stop at the workshop at the entrance which makes beautiful paper sheets and other items from the dung of elephants through an elaborate process of recovering the fibre that is used to make the paper. The entrance is also lined with shops offering leather goods like bags etc. The initial prices quoted are high and you need to bargain to get the right price. Start by giving a counter offer which is 1/5th the orignal price and you could settle at 1/3rd the price quoted.
A cute Baby Elephant at the centre