The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established in 1975 near the Maha Oya River, to provide a home for orphaned elephants. It started with 7 babies, and now there are more than 100 elephants, and is considered the world’s largest captive herd of elephants. Feeding time and bath time are the best times to visit. Bottle feeding is at 9.15am, 1.15pm and 5pm, and bathing time at the river is at 10am and 2pm.

As an incredibly popular tourist destination, there is a fee for viewing the animals and for taking photos, which funds the upkeep and nutrition for the animals.

Although Pinnawala does have a few hotels, most tourists simply stop off at the orphanage and spend the night in neighbouring Kandy.

Accommodation (basic price per night)

  • Hotel Elephant Bay - +94 77 9069 664 ($50)
  • Hotel Elephant Park - +94 11 7488 288 ($50)
  • Hotel Champis - +94 35 2263 224 ($35)
  • Governor’s Lodge - +94 11 7488 288

Halfway between Colombo and Kandy, Pinnawala is a great place to stop for a break on your journey. About 85km north-east of Colombo, the orphanage should take just over 1 hr 30 minutes to reach.


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