Looking on trip advisor, you will find two very different sorts of comments, some guests love it, others hate it. There are reasons for both reactions.
You should understand that Pinnawela is both an authentic elephant orphanage caring for wounded elephant babies effectively and a tourist hot spot. There are some real distressing experiences for guests indeed. Here is one example:
The caretakers, some of them real Mahouts, earn more money by tips from the tourists. They do so by charging tips for every photo. And there it’s a very unpleasant trick at tourist hotspots in India and Sri Lanka and other countries, to first offer the service without mentioning a charge and afterwards asking with a hand for the tip. We strictly recommend: Do not support this unfriendly behaviour. Simply answer in a friendly manner: “If you want me to pay for a photo, please tell me in about it in advance.” Or: “ I would like to show the photo at the office and ask if I have to pay for it extra fees. In case they confirm this, I propose to deelete your photo.”
Part of the truth about Pinnawela is: The elephant bath is definitely worth a visit. It’s also a perfect opportunity for amazing photos - without those annoying extra payments called “tips” in Pinnawela.
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