Note : This post is in a series of posts covering our entire Sri Lankan backpacking experience. Please refer to individual posts covering the places visited.
Earlier Post :
For City Tips jump to the bottom.
With Kandy as our base for next two days, we explored the following places:
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
- Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
- Hot Air Balloon Ride at Dambulla
- Sigiriya Rock
- Dambulla Cave temples
- Cultural Show – Kandy
- Kandy Tooth Temple and Environ
The train ride from Colombo to Kandy is about two and a half hours.
Trains depart from Colombo Fort railway station at 07.00 Hrs.
Stayed at an airbnb homestay hosted by the most gracious of hosts Sujatha and Roney Vyse. (Sujatha’s Homestay, Ampitiya) which is about six kilometers from main town.
With their help, we booked a van for the entire afternoon. Visited Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage located about 40 kilometers from Kandy in the district of Kegalla. It is a 1.5 hours journey to the orphanage.
The centre opens at 8.30 and closes at 6pm daily. Bottle feeding is at 9.15am, 1.15pm & 5pm and bathing time at the river is at 10am and 2pm.
Pinnawala (Pinnawela) Elephant Orphanage is very popular tourist attraction visited by Sri Lankan tourists as well as by the foreign tourists. It is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world.
The highlight is the bottle feeding and the bathing in the river at 10.00 am and 2.00 pm daily, where the animals are walked 400 meters to the river Maha Oya. The visitors seated on the steep rocky banks of the river, are afforded the opportunity, to enjoy the sight of the herd of elephants bathing and playing at the river.
Tip : There are some good restaurants on the river banks where you can down a bear and a hearty meal whilst the elephants enjoy their bath.
After hugging and feeding the gentle giants to our heart’s content we then drove back to Kandy and visited the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens enroute.
Located about 5 kilometers from Kandy and set over an area of 147 acres, this garden is a must-see.
It is renowned for its collection of a variety of orchids. It includes more than 4000 species of plants, including of orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees.
NOTE – The Hot Air Balloon Ride, Sigiriya and Dambulla will be covered in a subsequent post.
1) TRAIN TRAVEL
We had pre-booked our tickets to Kandy via http://www.exporail.lk/
This is a private company and they have a special carriage attached to the train. The ticket costs are SLR 1450/- .
The First Class (Observation Saloon) seat tickets issued by Sri Lankan Railways cost only 500/- and are just as comfortable.
However, the only advantage of booking online is the guarantee of getting a seat.
Sri Lankan Railways http://www.railway.gov.lk/ provides following reservation methods
1. Visiting Railway Stations – Reservations can be done from 10 days before the ‘Date of the Journey’
2. Calling Mobitel Call Centre – only for Colombo-Kandy Intercity Trains
The booking office at Fort,Colombo operates between 06.00 to 12.00 and 12.30 to 14.00.
So it is recommended that you book your tickets as soon as you arrive in Colombo as most of the routes get fully booked.
2) PINNAWALA ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE:
If you are from Asia or the Indian sub-continent and have already had your fair share of interactions with elephants then this excursion can been given a miss especially if you are in Kandy for a very short time.
We would rather have reached the botanical gardens earlier as we quite loved the serenity of the place.
3)PERADENIYA BOTANICAL GARDENS :
The park opens at 07.30 am and closes by 5.00 pm. Give yourself a good three to four hours to explore the park at leisure.