Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pinnawala elephant orphanage

Pinnawala is a beautiful village, 90km from Sri Lanka capital, Colombo. Thanks to our son, we got inspired to visit this place.

A bright sun welcomed us at Colombo airport which was seen missing, thanks to the clouds, in Bangalore. The immigration was pretty quick and we decided to make enquires as to how to reach this orphanage. We were told that we will be never left outside the airport unless we state our hotel name and purpose of visit. Since we did not have any reservation made in any hotel we were planning to use the name of some hotel nearby but the need did not arise.

We had a bit of US dollars and ample amount of Singapore dollars - we decided to carry Indian rupees also. We looked for a foreign exchange at the arrival lounge - spotted a few of them owned by different banks for Sri Lanka. To our horror we discovered that one would be buying INR and exchanging them or Sri Lankan Rupees. They would certainly buy USD, SGD and even Malaysian Ringgit but not Indian rupees! We did not know about this nor had any options at Bangalore Airport for exchange.

Luckily the agency of whose taxi service we hired was willing to buy INR at "BLACK" and gave us Sri Lankan Rupees. Nope! I'm not going to discuss why things are that way and whats the exchange rate. I would like warn traveller to this country that please do try to exchange INR into Sri Lankan rupees - be wise! carry UDS or SGD or any other currency except the neighbouring country India's INR.

The weather was good though not very hot and the roads were EXCELLENT - having spent about a month in Bangalore I Loved these roads - I could imagine myself rolling on these roads!! (yes, there are better roads in the world but for me - something like this in Sri Lanka, entire stretch of Colombo to Pinnawala was a dream...)

On our way we could find many shops selling crafts made out of bamboo, coconut shells. Do stop to buy them and ofcourse you can bargain - couple for Sri Lankan rupees here and there and not too much.

A statue of Buddha is very common on the streets here.

The famous Indian "auto" called here "tuk tuk" are seen in different colours!

After 2 hrs and 30 mins of drive we reached the orphanage. Every afternoon the herds of elephants go to the river for a bath. They exit the orphanage and cross the road and take a small lane lined with hotels/resorts/shops to reach the river.

A view from "Elephant bay" hotel situated on the banks of the river.

There is an entry ticket which can be bought and can be used to visit the orphanage as well the hotel or the resorts. If rates are according to the country whose citizen you are. As we were from SAARC country, the ticket was priced very minimal.

We could not wait to see the elephant. We checked to a hotel called "Elephant Bay". We had a late lunch which looked very appealing..but worth everything!

Another view from the Elephant bay hotel.

It was totally very relaxing to watch the elephants having a bath, lazing around and searching for food and sometimes even fighting!!

For more photos, check out my Flickr account: