Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka – Should you visit?

The first time we saw these beautiful creatures, we just fell in love with Elephants. Whilst visiting Sri Lanka, we knew we had to visit an Elephant Orphanage. The best one to visit is Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. 


The Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife and Conservation established Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in 1975, to look after baby orphaned elephants found in the wild. This continued until 1995 when Udawalawe National Park set up the Elephant Transit home, which now looks after the baby and orphaned elephants. The baby elephants here are mainly from breeding. The upkeep of the orphanage, comes from the visitors to Pinnawela. There are now about 78 elephants at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. 

Elephant Orphanage 

Cost: Rs 2500 per person 

There are many tourists and locals, coming to see these amazing elephants, that are looked after very well. What you will witness as you follow around the different areas of the orphanage, is the ability for the elephants to roam around freely, with the keepers nearby for safety.  

Elephants feeding is Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
Elephants feeding in Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka

There are different ages between the elephants that live here, whilst the largest area of the orphanage is the feeding. It is evident that the elephants seem very happy and content in this environment. 

There is a great opportunity to feed one of the baby elephants. But the experience is over very quickly with the elephant guzzling down the milk in a matter of minutes. This is one experience you will never forget. 

Bathing for the elephants takes place at the Maha Oya River twice a day. The elephants are herded across the road and down to the river. It might be a good idea to get to the Maha Oya early, to secure a good spot, watching the elephants play and bath.

Just prior to the elephants coming down to the river, a horn is sounded, to alert everyone that the elephants are on their way. As these beautiful elephants come towards the river, you can see the excitement and joy in their faces knowing full well they will get to play, or cool off in the river.  

Bev & Shams Adventures feeding a baby elephant
Bev & Shams Adventures feeding a baby elephant at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, in Sri Lanka


  • If you have purchased a ticket to feed the baby elephants, you may wish to get there early, as it can get quite crowded. 
  • It is possible to touch the baby elephants just prior to feeding, but many other visiting will be trying the same thing 
  • To get a good spot watching the elephant’s bath in the Maya Oya River, you will need to get there early. 
  • It is not a good idea to touch the elephants without strict permission. 
  • It will take about 2 hours or more to walk around the sanctuary admiring these animals, and watching them bath. 

After visiting Pinawala Elephant Orphanage, why not take a drive to Sigiriya Lion Rock! You wont be disappointed with this ancient city upon a rock with incredible views.

Elephants heading to the river to bath

Places to eat 

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is located in a very small village in Pinnawela. There are a small selection of restaurants to sit and have a meal. On the way down to the river, there are some restaurants with good views. 

Are you looking to book cheap flights and accommodation to Sri Lanka, then head over to Skyscanner. We have used them multiple times to book our trip to Sri Lanka. Enjoy your travels.

Do you want an experience of a lifetime? Have you ever thought about volunteering in Sri Lanka? You can do all this with Travel Ceylon Together, offering 1,2, and 3 week programs working with elephants such as the ones above, orphaned children, and turtles. Want to find out more? All you have to do is contact us!

Your say

Have you visited an elephant orphanage? Where was it, and what was your experience? Did you enjoy your visit or not and why not? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

Continue your Sri Lankan travel planning, with these useful posts:

Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
Elephants bathing in the river, at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: