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The huge disappointment that wasn't Pinnawala


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) & Sri Lanka TravBuddy trip November 2014 on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14176008305180.jpg2,000 LKR is a ripoff!!!We had waited for our van driver for quite some time already at the Queens Hotel. It turns out he wasn't waiting outside but seated inside not far from the reception desk. Hmmmm....and he didn't even make an effort to approach us even though he knew that there was this group of travelers waiting for him at 1PM? That started off on a poor note for most of us, especially Hali. I would say it practically ruined much of the trip for her, all the way until getting back to Colombo [Colombo-travel-guide-583234] (as Hali was the one who arranged the van rentals for the next four days).

Finally, after we discovered who our driver was, we head off to the direction of Pinnawala. The thing that got the goat of Hali was that he claimed that Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was closed for the day (which we didn't believe).large_1840343_14176008306261.jpg But taking his word as a local, we rode along until he brought us to this Millenium Elephant Foundation which we thought was a really bad ruse to charge exhorbitant rates (2000 LKR) for a seven minute elephant ride.

Hali and Devi couldn't take it (as Hali has been to elephant sanctuaries before), so they demanded a refund of their tickets. The others who were to ride elephants for the first time decided to continue, as we wanted to see up close what the routine was. It seems that most of the elephants there are already old elephants who have been retired from heavy duty work for many years, as they were generally docile and slow moving (they even looked like comatose when bathing in the river). In the end, it was obvious that the mahout was the one who controlled much of the elephants interactions, and I didn't particularly like our mahout, a pot-bellied guy who couldn't even speak decent English (the same goes for the marketing guy).large_1840343_14178736469620.jpg We made the most of our paid tickets, joined in "washing" and scrubbing the elephants, rode the elephants around the area (it was actually an interesting ride), and then left when all were finished.

By then Hali and Devi had discovered a herbal garden place a couple hundred meters down the road, and we ended up joining them and taking a look at the plants on display and listening to the sales pitch for the products manufactured from there (which were overpriced and didn't even seem of high quality).

Finally we insisted that we want to see baby elephants (because this was the reason Masayo joined this trip to Pinnawala), so we told the driver to continue driving to the area where Pinnawala was supposed to be. Finally we arrived at the elephant orphanage a few minutes before 4PM, and were quite excited when we were told the elephant herd was returning to the orphange after bathing in the river.large_1840343_14176008381820.jpgMasayo: "lots of hips"True enough, the herd was headed back within a few minutes and we quickly ran to the side road and took as many photos while they were crossing back into the entrance of the orphanage. That had made Masayo's day - you should she the big grin on her face while she was posing with the elephant herd.

And then we were off back to Kandy [Kandy-travel-guide-1311007], as we had to meet Anne and Forrest, as well as Jon who was having challenges at his hotel...

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Sri Lanka

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