Riding elephants responsibly in one way to connect with nature in Sri Lanka
An elephant ride is a winner whatever be your age. Children love it although they might be frightened at the sight of a tusker but give them a chance to see others mounting on elephants and feeding them and they will need no nudging from you. Adults are overjoyed swaying to the gentle jostle as the pachyderms stride down narrow trails.
The view of the countryside at a jumbo’s pace is different especially when viewed from a different height. Some of the animals, having been accustomed to being fed fruits will curl their trunk backwards above their head to reach out to you while others will patiently wait as you pose for the mahout to take a picture of you atop these majestic yet docile creatures.
The most famous spot to ride an elephant in Sri Lanka is Habarana with its beautiful scenery and a spot in the jungle where the elephant wades in the water. Other options can be the Millennium Elephant Foundation where you can get to ride elephants bareback or bathe them in the water. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage also provides elephant riding opportunities.
The cost of the trip is based on the duration of the ride. It is better to settle for a price before you set off. Also agree to a full amount including tips for mahouts to photograph and videograph you. In Habarana, it can cost you around Rs.2500 per person for an hour’s ride. Rates at Pinnawala and at Millennium are fixed.
While you can take along bananas to feed elephants in Habarana, the Millennium Foundation will allow you to feed them only fruits bought at their stalls.