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“Uncomfortable”

Millennium Elephant Foundation
Ranked #2 of 5 things to do in Kegalle
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
London
Level Contributor
73 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Uncomfortable”
Reviewed 4 April 2013

We had a very packed schedule in Sri Lanka in eleven days and our first stop after flying into Colombo was the Millennium Elephant Foundation. I had already read bad things about Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage so decided to give that a miss and was expecting more from this place as it was supposed to be a sanctuary. That's not what I would call it. This was a bad start to our Sri Lankan experience and thankfully, it transpired to be the worst. Our trip picked up considerably after leaving.

Our driver/guide arranged the entrance for us and inside we were immediately met by a guy who directed us to the river to wash one of the elephants for a few minutes before being directed to mount the elephant and then taken for a quick five minute stroll before being directed to get off again. The mahout then demanded a tip, I gave him a tip and he asked for more and he and one other guy were clearly not happy about the size of the tip I left. I increased it, they still looked unhappy and asked for more. This was the only time in Sri Lanka that I experienced anything like this. It's true that most people expect tips for service but the crucial difference is that most of the time they don't demand it, they actually provide some service first and finally are grateful when you do tip. That wasn't the case here.

Afterwards we were shown around the 'museum' which essentially is a room under a mud hut with a few bones (which felt inappropriate for a sanctuary) and some pictures and then the guy who shows you around the museum expects a tip as well. We didn't give him one, he looked very offended. The whole thing lasted ten minutes and was all a bit forced. Stand here, hold that, do this, now pay me. I can't say I enjoyed it at all and it was all over within ten minutes. No time or freedom to stroll around or take our own pictures.

Later on our Sri Lanka trip we went on an elephant trek in Habarana which was brilliant and a safari at Eco Park. My advice, skip past this place.

Visited March 2013
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4 Thank The-Rapture
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
27 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Once in a lifetime experience”
Reviewed 4 April 2013

We were going to go to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage but had heard bad reports so we decided to come here instead. What a great decision. For only 2000 rupees(approx £10) you get to wash, ride and feed the elephants ( fruit basket 200 rupees extra). You also get a mini tour round the museum which is very interesting. All in all an excellent experience which was well worth the 8 hour round trip.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank DubaiWhite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Medway
Level Contributor
114 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
Reviewed 1 April 2013

We took a cab an hour and a half out of Kandy to visit this place.
You get a choice of 3 prices which dictates how long you get to ride an elephant. We chose the cheapest 2000 rup for a 15 minute ride, which was literally 100 yards and more like 5 minutes, then the mahoot asked for a tip.
We washed an elephant in the river for a couple of minutes and were hassled for another tip. You can look around the 'museum', in 5 minutes, although it does contain some interesting facts and stories about how some of the elephants came to be there.
All in all I came away thoroughly disappointed, I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe a bit more natural interaction, I wasn't hoping for a theme park or anything, they seem to have a good ethic towards the animals, but it was all a bit rushed and disorganised.

Visited March 2013
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Thank Delfusilage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vienna, Austria
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Sad venue, where making money has a higher importance than doing good for the elephants”
Reviewed 29 March 2013

Following Lonelyplanet we did not want to visit the Orphanage as the feedback is mixed and thought that the Millenium Foundation (at least on paper) is more about the elephants and making sure, that they are treated well.

However already the entrance fee is quite shocking: 3000 Rps for 30 min for Sri Lanka is VERY expensive, however itf its for the good of the animals then I accept. Now when you enter you realise that this is not the case. The area is not very well maintained, the elephants are trained that visitors can pretend to clean, wash, feed and ride them and the whole venue seems like a big elephant boot camp, where making money is on top of the radar screen. Additionally any employee crossing your way is asking for incremental tips, so that at the very end you fel really akward.

Clearly this is not a place to go. Very sad - honestly. I know taelling with kids makes this difiicult but you feel better if you do not go there...

Visited March 2013
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2 Thank Martin M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sofia, Bulgaria
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Not what I expected”
Reviewed 21 March 2013

I visited Millennium elephant foundation on the way to Kandy. We were a group of 10 and chose this place to bathe and ride elephants, as they largely proclaim that this is the only place to do so without a saddle and without hurting the elephants. So far, so good. We found the place quite easily, although there were some guys right in front of the gate who claimed they showed us the place (jumping in the middle of the road and yelling "Right here, right here") and demanded some tip for their "help". We were pushed to the ticket office where the lady only wanted to sell us either the medium or the large package. Didn't even mention the one for 2000 LKR, we had to mention it ourselves. After paying, we were let inside the foundation grounds where the first of us had to wait with no explanation whatsoever what we're doing while people from the staff were sitting and reading newspapers on the tables nearby. We were divided by 2 groups (Small and Medium package paid), and taken to the river where there were 3 elephants laying in the water. Although each of us paid separately, we were taken to the elephants by groups (2x3x3x2). That's how we rode them also. Imagine, 3 people on the elephant back, the one in the middle doesn't see anything. After the not more than 5 min ride, we bought some fruits for the elephant (merely 6 pieces) for 200LKR. We gave the mahout double, but he was very unhappy and he didn't hide it. He took the elephant away before we could make some more pictures. The staff was only interested in getting us inside the shop to buy some overpriced souvenirs "for the sake" of the elephants. My opinion is, we'd already paid enough for their well being. All in all, I would recommend it for the experience but don't expect too much. As most tourist places around Sri Lanka, tourist are beginning to be viewed only as a source of income and nothing else.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank feeltherush85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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