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Pinnawela Tour

Duration: Full Day

pinnawela tour

Spend an unforgettable day at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage during your holiday in Sri Lanka, which is an easy day drip from Colombo. This is one of the country’s most popular attractions and one of the best places in the world to get up close to a large and healthy herd of elephants. Watch them feed, bathe and play happily in the river. This tour is a wonderful experienced not to be missed.

After an early breakfast we will drive through scenic countryside to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, which was set up by the Department of Wildlife in 1975 to protect elephants in Sri Lanka from the threat of extinction. At the beginning of the 19th century an estimated 35,000 elephants lived on the island, but by the 1960s the elephant population was close to extinction. Young elephants found orphaned, injured or abandoned and in need of care and attention were tamed and looked after on the Pinnawela estate (which was generously donated) and the orphanage has successfully continued its wonderful work ever since.

Among the elephants is Sama, who lost a foot after stepping on a mine, and Raja, who is blind and totally reliant on humans. Just five baby elephants where originally brought to Pinnawela with the hope of attracting local and international visitors to help fund and develop the organisation, and now the orphanage is home to over 70 elephants, the largest captive herd of elephants in the world. They range in age from newborns to elderly adults, and approximately one baby elephant is born and successfully reared here every year.

The elephants roam freely in a twenty-five acre parkland, fringed by palm and coconut trees, and they are well looked after by their mahouts (keepers). One makes Pinnawela so special is the fact that every effort has been made to allow the elephants to function just as they would in the wild, including encouraging these sociable animals to develop their own herd structure. Twice a day at feeding time, the babies are herded into their stalls and bottle-fed by their keepers or fed by the adult elephants.

You will get a chance to feed the babies on the tour, watching them guzzle down enormous quantities of milk. This is a wonderful moment to capture on camera, but the highlight of the day is watching the elephants bathing. After feeding, the elephants are transported 400 meters to May Oya River for a bath. From the river banks visitors can watch these gentle giants bathe, wallow and frolic in the water. The babies are particularly entertaining, often spraying each other and hosing themselves down. Get your camera ready to capture their playful antics. This is a magical experience you will never forget.


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