After our train ride from Colombo to Kandy we did a quick bit of research but struggled to find a simple and cheap way to get from Kandy to Pinawalla. Pinawala is home to the worlds largest elephant orphanage with over 60 in total. Being on a backpackers budget we didn’t want to pay for an expensive 80km round trip in a taxi and the buses sounded like a real pain so we took our search to the streets and hailed down a local Tuk-Tuk driver.
We knew it was quite a trip for a Tuk-Tuk so we tried to flag down one of the newer ones that looked like they could make the journey but as you would expect, every one that passed looked like it had been salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. The first driver we stopped literally laughed at us and drove off which wasn’t really the reaction we were looking for. The second agreed and said he would do it for Rs 3500 (£17) which is less than half the price of a taxi!
Me and Jay love getting Tuk-Tuks, you get the wind in your hair, you can stop whenever you like to take photos or grab a drink and you can weave in and out of all the cars that are stuck in traffic but best of all, you are supporting the little guy!
The journey took around an hour and a half and there is plenty of great views along the way. Pinawalla was established in 1975 as a conservation breeding centre by Sri Lanka Wildlife department with only 5 baby elephants – today there are over 60! The tourist Entrance price to Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage is Rs 2500. (£12.50)
One thing we were happy about was as you entered the park was the sense that the elephants here were really looked after. Obviously they are not out in the wild and this is always the ideal scenario however in this particular sanctuary they are not restrained and get to roam around the 25 acre park and once a day they are lead to a nearby river to be bathed, which is really quite an amazing site!
After you have seen the elephants being bathed in the river they are walked back to the sanctuary and this gives you a chance to get up close and personal with some of the more social elephants. There are also locals selling bananas for Rs 300 for you to feed to them as they walk past, we didn’t buy any bananas but this guy seemed to like me!
After you’ve have seen the herd in the river you can go back to the park and see them in as near to their natural habitat as you can get. We watched a gorgeous elephant having some me time bathing and drinking which was a beautiful sight. She was showing off some serious shower skills and even remembered to wash behind her ears.
Overall this was a great day out and the tuk-tuk really made it that extra bit more adventurous. From now on we are going to get as many tuk-tuks as possible. Today we were even thinking of possible ways we could purchase our very own to cruise from south to north Sri Lanka. Too much?