elephants bathing at the river 1

Guide to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage- What to do and see

elephants bathing at the river 1
Elephants bathing at Ma oya river

Situated just outside the town of Kegalle, some forty kilometers west of Kandy, the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions.

It was set up in 1975 to look after seven orphaned baby elephants, though the orphanage population has now mushroomed to around 93 (in 2017), making it the world’s largest collection of captive elephants.
The elephants here range in age from newborns to elderly matriarch and include orphaned and abandoned elephants, as well as those injured in the wild (often in conflicts with farmers). There are some baby elephants that were born here in captivity.

Habituated to humans and domestic elephants, most of the orphans join the ranks of sri Lanka’s many working elephants when they reach maturity, as they cannot easily be returned to the wild.

Read more on Elephant behavior at the Orphanage here.

Things to Do


The milk feeding is an important and an eye-catching event taking place daily at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This gains a lot of national and international interest as it is a unique event. Hence, tourists are naturally compelled to seek more information on it. In order to facilitate this ne

Daily at : 9.15am – 9.45am / 01.15pm-01.45pm


The elephants are driven across the road to the Ma Oya river for a leisurely bath; you can observe their antics form the river bank, or from the terrace of Pinnalanda or Hotel Elephant Park restaurants above the river. Here you can see Elephants splashing around and playing for about an hour.

Daily at : 10.00am – 12.00pm / 2.00pm – 4.00pm


Daily at : 09.00am – 09.45am / 12.00pm – 1.45pm

Opening Hours

Daily from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m

Entrance Fees

Sri Lankans

Adult LKR 100.00
Children LKR 30.00 (3-12 Years)
Children LKR 20.00 in uniform

Overseas Visitors

Adult LKR 2500.00
Children LKR 1250.00 (3-12 Years)

SAARC Visitors

Adult LKR 700.00
Children LKR 350.00 (3-12 Years)

How to Get to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is on a side road located between Colombo and Kandy, just east of Kegalle, near the 83km post. So it’s also a perfect opportunity for a day-trip that breaks up your journey.

How to get to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage from Colombo: It’s best to take a train heading for Kandy, which stop at Pinnawala.

How to get to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage from Kandy: Take the bus from Kandy at the Bus Shed Station to Udamulla. From there you take another bus to Rambukkana and get off at Pinnawala. You can also take a taxi or Three Wheeler (TukTuk) from Kandy.

Location Map (Google Map)

Contact Elephant Orphanage

Picture Gallery

  • Sidu
    May 31, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Long drive to watch the elephant having their daily baths. We sat right above where the elephant have a play in the river. Amazing spot to have lunch and observe these Gentle giant. We then fed an elephant some fruits……

    Ashika and Shanika took some convincing.

    Afterwards Ashika and Shanika had a ride on an elephant named Monica. She was not part of the orphanage but owned privately and used for tourist elephant rides

    She is a beautiful animal and we observed that she really didn’t enjoy doing her “job”. We got to bathe her which was very special for the kids and I. But the body language she displayed during the ride and the look I her eyes was too sad to witness. We will never go on an elephant ride again……they are wild creators who should not be used for our entertainment.

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  • Garry
    May 31, 2017 at 2:32 am

    After seeing the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka, we walked to the adjacent town, and situated there is a business that makes paper products out of elephant dung.
    Amazing! Talk about not letting anything go to waste.

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