Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers
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From $1,279, 2 weeks, Sri Lanka Trip code: SLEV

  • Adventure 3 out of 5
  • Relaxation 2 out of 5
  • Culture 4 out of 5
Sri Lanka Elephant and Community VolunteersSri Lanka Elephant and Community VolunteersSri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers

Trip Highlights

Read Lisa's blog about her experience: Elephants and an unnecessary gecko!

 

  • Help care for Asian elephants
  • Get hands-on with the big fellas
  • Experience Sri Lankan culture, learn to cook a curry and get to know local people
  • Support local underprivileged children by teaching English
  • Help to maintain the garden where fruit for the elephants is grown
  • Slow your pace of life down - live the Sri Lankan way
  • Relax by the river after a hard day’s work and enjoy a cup of Sri Lankan tea

Trip Summary

See full itinerary

This project was started because the owners of the elephants there could no longer look after them. It aims to care for the elephants and their mahouts who rely entirely on their elephants for their own survival. The project works to slowly and continuously improve the wellbeing of the elephants by educating the tourists who come to visit, the elephant keepers (mahouts) and the local community.

 

As well as a hands-on experience you will learn about what it takes to look after an elephant including health checks and finding out how to weigh an elephant without even attempting to move it! Two afternoons a week, you’ll support local underprivileged children by teaching English and other useful skills.

 

You will be working with domesticated Asian elephants, getting to know these majestic animals. You will work with the elephant keepers – locally known as mahouts - helping with the daily care that is essential to keeping these animals happy and healthy. You’ll also assist with tourist visits; bringing income to the project.

 

You will also support local underprivileged children by teaching English and other useful skills. You will be able to provide the children with not only English and Maths lessons but also to help with confidence, leadership and 'life' skills.

 

English is considered as a way of upward mobility especially for women and children from underprivileged backgrounds in Sri Lanka and the families we support cannot afford extra tuition for their children.

 

Want to find out more? Click HERE for full trip details and a detailed itinerary. 


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What will I be doing?

  • Your First week (1 Week)

  • The Elephant project

    The Elephant project (3 to 7 Weeks)

  • Other volunteer activities

    Other volunteer activities (3 to 7 Weeks)

Your First week: 1 Week

Next Leg

Destination info

This great project is on the outskirts of Kegalle, a busy little town with lots of shops and eating establishments. If you plan to explore further afield in your free time, Kegalle is a good place to catch a cheap local bus to places like Kandy, with its world famous Temple of the Tooth. Kegalle is known for its large rubber plantations, and crops such as coffee, cocoa, and spices. The local train station offers connections to some of the island's best sites as well as the fast train to Colombo.

 

You'll love the slower pace of life round here and if you enjoy birdwatching don't forget your binoculars!

  • Location: Kegalle, Sri Lanka

When you arrive into Colombo you will be met by a member of the in-country team and taken straight to your home near Kegalle for your time at the project. Depending on what time you arrive you will either go straight to your room for a sleep or be briefly shown around and have introductions at the project.

 

The next day will start with a detailed orientation, explaining the project, an introduction to Sri Lanka, the teaching and also the other trips we have scheduled. You will have the chance to meet the other volunteers and the in-country team is always on hand if you need anything else.

 

You will have the chance to visit Pinnawala - just down the road - to spend 3 - 4 hours walking around the elephant centre and watching the elephants bathe in the river, if you're lucky. There is also the chance for you to do a bit of souvenir shopping. Please note that you will not be volunteering at the elephant centre.

 

The following morning you will head for Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka where you will visit the Temple of the Tooth, Buddha on the hill, Kandy Lake and in the evening watch a traditional Kandy dancing show.

 

Now that you have seen some of Sri Lanka’s cultural elements you will have a day trekking into the local jungles for a chance to see some of the country's abundant wildlife such as monkeys, bird and insect species, many of which you won’t find anywhere else.

 

Not only will you have the great activities over these past few days but you will also be given lots of information about Sri Lanka and the basics of the language as you go.

 

The first Friday of your stay will be your first chance to start working with the mahouts and elephants, starting with the basics like cleaning up after and cleaning the elephants. Your weekends are free to either relax or explore more of this amazing country.

 

Please note: that excursions depend on the weather conditions and may be rescheduled if need be. 

The Elephant project: 3 to 7 Weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

This great project is on the outskirts of Kegalle, a busy little town with lots of shops and eating establishments. If you plan to explore further afield in your free time, Kegalle is a good place to catch a cheap local bus to places like Kandy, with its world famous Temple of the Tooth. Kegalle is known for its large rubber plantations, and crops such as coffee, cocoa, and spices. The local train station offers connections to some of the island's best sites as well as the fast train to Colombo.

 

You'll love the slower pace of life round here and if you enjoy birdwatching don't forget your binoculars!

  • Location: Kegalle, Sri Lanka

From now on you can truly immerse yourself in the project. You will rise early to meet the mahouts and assist with any elephant health checks that are required before leading the elephants to the water for a quick bath. After breakfast you will help out in the garden as well as planting and weeding (this is season dependent).

 

After a well earned tea break you’ll help to clean the elephant beds and make them a nice fresh bed for the night. You’ll then stop for lunch before assisting the mahouts with the tourists. During the afternoon you will have a chance to bathe the elephants and help feed them. You’ll help the mahouts with further care of the elephants and tourist activities before tucking the elephants in for the day and going on to learn Singhalese or teach English to kids in the afternoons.

 

Elephants cost a lot of money to keep. Most elephant safaris actually rent the elephants including mahouts and food supplies. To pay for keeping the elephants substantial funding is required. Traditionally this income is generated from offering elephant encounters to tourists which can include riding the great giant, but volunteers visiting the project also create a form of income. All elephant riding is carried out within the animal welfare guidelines and is in the elephants natural habitat. 

 

As the project receives paying tourists your role will be to help the staff, assisting with the work of the mahouts when required. By the time you have finished your time at the project you should have a good understanding of the life of mahouts and elephants in Sri Lanka, plus some basic elephant communication skills too. 

Other volunteer activities: 3 to 7 Weeks

Destination info

This great project is on the outskirts of Kegalle, a busy little town with lots of shops and eating establishments. If you plan to explore further afield in your free time, Kegalle is a good place to catch a cheap local bus to places like Kandy, with its world famous Temple of the Tooth. Kegalle is known for its large rubber plantations, and crops such as coffee, cocoa, and spices. The local train station offers connections to some of the island's best sites as well as the fast train to Colombo.

 

You'll love the slower pace of life round here and if you enjoy birdwatching don't forget your binoculars!

  • Location: Kegalle, Sri Lanka
  • On Mondays from 4pm you can learn Singhalese (Sri Lankan language).
  • At 4pm on Tuesday and Thursday you’ll support local underprivileged children by helping to teach English and other useful skills. There are some very poor families in the local area and they cannot afford to provide the additional tuition that will really help their child’s future. You may also be able to teach adults whom greatly appreciate the chance to improve their English. The children are generally from ages 5 to 18 and will be divided into groups of three
  • On Wednesdays from 10.30 to 12.00 you will have Sinhala cooking classes where you will be able to eat your delicious self cooked food. From 16.00 you can help teaching the local children and adults English and enjoy a variety of games.
  • On Fridays you will stop early to give you a bit more time for the weekend.

 

Excluded:
To the girls home (orphanage) costs 500 LKR return by tuktuk
To the disabled home costs 800 LKR return by tuktuk. A bus also goes for much less.
 

Please note: The aim is to keep you busy and entertained but please bear in mind that plans can change as they often have to when working outdoors and with animals! Remember, the more flexible you are, the more you will get out of the project. 

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What's included?

  • Project experience as described
  • Airport transfers in Sri Lanka
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner - Monday to Friday
  • Accommodation throughout your programme
  • Detailed orientation
  • On site project coordinator

What's not included?

  • Flights
  • Visa
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals at weekends
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Local transport to afternoon community projects
  • Any excursions other than those listed in the itinerary

Additional Information & FAQs

Minimum age

The minimum age for this project is 17 years old.

 

Minimum numbers required on this trip

There are no minimum numbers on the trip.

Please note: you may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us

 

Accommodation

During your time at the project you will be staying in a volunteer house. The accommodation is purpose-built with a nice balcony to chill out on. You will be sharing a room with other volunteers in bunk beds (maximum of 4 to a room) with access to shared bathrooms and shower facilities.

 

There is an open living area at the volunteer house. Your accommodation has a washing machine and internet facilities (although connection can be sporadic) with Wi-Fi for your own equipment. In rural areas such as this there can often be power cuts so you should be prepared for this; there is emergency lighting at the house so you’ll still be able to see! 

 

The Senior Project Co-ordinator lives at the Volunteer accommodation. 

 

Meals

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included from Monday to Friday. The menu will be both local and western-style meals.

 

Is this trip for you?

A love for animals and willingness to work and learn is needed for you to make the most out of this volunteering project.

 

The community element of this programme does involve speaking English, therefore you will need to be able to speak the English language fluently.

 

Volunteers must be able to work independently within the guidelines of the project. Patience and perseverance are essential, although above all enthusiasm and a willingness to accept another culture will mean you get the most from your volunteering experience. After all, what you put into the project will be what you get in return. Each volunteer brings different ideas and skills to the project that can make a real impact towards furthering initiatives.

 

You may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. However, you will still have the full support of your in-country team and those at the project. If you are looking for a group volunteering experience we have plenty of options for you to consider.

 

Advice & Safety

Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.

 

In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our UK staff at any time should you need to.

 

DBS

This trip requires a Police Check to be carried out - please contact us for further information on how to do this. 

What will I see in Sri Lanka?

18 photos

What other travelers thought

I've done this trip

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Overall rating: (9/10) (11 reviews)
Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers

Devon-louise Oakley - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Incredible character building experience, creating a new outlook on life!

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Everything that you could want from a volunteer experience, Sri Lanka has it. Working with the elephants was fantastic, as were the excursions and time spent with the disabled home. Rosiee and Amal were perfect hosts and I really enjoyed my whole time out there. It provided an incredible experience that I will remember forever. I can't wait to return to beautiful Sri Lanka

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

1. Take a good mosquito repellent 2. Embrace the strangeness, Sri Lankan culture is friendly and vibrant but can take some adjusting too, so bare with it and you won't be disappointed 3. Look at the itinerary and plan ahead, especially for the hot weather

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-16

Leonie Cooper - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

An amazing experience, I fell in love with Sri Lanka

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

I loved every minute of my trip and there was always something to do. It was amazing being so close to the elephants, being able to bathe, feed and scrub them. The co-ordinator was so friendly and welcoming and we kept in touch even after I left. It was a great experience being able to go on the excursions and learning about the culture whilst also being able to travel on the weekend.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Make the most of your weekends travelling Be open minded Give everything and anything a go

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-15

Jen Gwaro - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Amazing and something that will never leave me

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

The beautiful elephants the darling coordinator and my fellow volunteers

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Let it evolve and take it slowly

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-11

Maddy Harper - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Sri Lanka is the most amazing unspoilt country I have been too.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Mainly the hosts made you feel special and very welcome

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-09

David Farra - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Fantastic experience I thoroughly enjoyed it and making great friends who I still keep in contact with.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(8/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(7/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(8/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Chilling with friends at weekends and helping the elephants because I really enjoyed their company.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Be Motivated for any task ahead Be aware that the jobs required are hard going but fun Have a good time

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-08

Amber Cartlidge - December 2015

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Incredible, absolutely loved it

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(9/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(8/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(8/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Being able to get so close to elephants daily and visiting the orphanages

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Climb adams peak whilst you're there! Participate in everything that is offered to you

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2015-12-08

Charlotte Simons - Dukes - September 2014

How would you rate your overall experience?
(8/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

amazing, really enjoyed myself hopefully will be doing this again.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(7/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(8/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(7/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(8/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

obviously the elephants, however the woman you stay with rosie is the most caring and giving woman you will every meet!! the place is really lovely and beautiful when your there

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

you MUST travel! be safe have fun don't let an opportunity like this get away!

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2014-09-15

Emily Kearns - April 2014

How would you rate your overall experience?
(8/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Beautiful country, amazing elephants and an eye opener to home life.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(7/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(8/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(8/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(8/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

I very much enjoyed the trip and what went on. It was a great experience don't get me wrong, however I felt it was less elephant orientated than the programme suggested. We also never got a sri lanka lesson and i felt we had to ask for rides and wash the elephants than encouraged to do so.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

bring toilet role- they do not provide any be careful with your money- my money got stolen at the orphanage be very very careful. someone got super super burnt when here- don't be silly put SUN CREAM ON

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2014-04-04

Emma Le Sauvage - September 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(8/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Met some amazing people, loved looking after the elephants and enjoyed being part of the local community.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(4/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(6/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(6/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(9/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Getting to look after and ride an elephant, being part of the community and getting to know the locals. Feeding a baby elephant at Pinnwela elephant orphanage.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Take an old pair of closed in shoes to wear when cleaning the elephant beds. You get the most out of this project if you are pro active and look for ways to improve the safari. Take old clothes for working as they get wet daily.

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2013-09-17

Laura Schwarzer - September 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(7/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

awesome experience, very friendly people, amezing staff, made new friends, unforgettable, hot, elephant showers, miss them, funny mahouts, Sri lanka

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(7/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(9/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(5/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(6/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

riding the elephants and bath them, trips to the disabled home talking with the mahouts.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

just be open minded, smile and start talking with everybody. They LOVE it. pack some insect repelent spray.

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2013-09-02

Caroline Brett - June 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(8/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Unforgettable, hot, sweaty, fun, eye-opening, mouth-tingling, magical

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(8/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(8/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

The highlight was being in Sri Lanka and being so close to such fantastic, gentle, beautiful animals! Nona was my favourite - although you're not supposed to have favourites are you!? The surroundings were great and it was just a lovely place to relax in between duties. Rosiee - the in-country coordinator helped make the trip for me. She was both like a mother, looking out for me and the other volunteers but also a friend!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Forget the pace of life in the UK and embrace Sri Lankan style. Things go slow here - which is a good thing! Try everything offered for dinner - most of it is YUM! Don't bring much with you clothes-wise. you won't need half the stuff you pack!

Sri Lanka Elephant and Community Volunteers2013-06-28

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