Be a volunteer for the Elephant Conservation Program in Sri Lanka with Volunteering Solutions and live a life amidst nature's lap! Volunteers will get the rare opportunity to work alongside local conservationists, educators, community partners and local villagers deep in the heart of the Sri Lankan wilderness. This is a true conservation project where wild elephants are not touched or interfered with at all as they are in their natural habitat.
Wild elephants (and other wildlife) are under threat in this part of the country particularly because of heightened levels of human-elephant conflict created in recent times due to a range of issues. It is a genuine research-based project involving elephant tracking, monitoring, observations, and education to the local communities, including running campaigns and awareness programs.
No matter whether you are a high school student who's an animal lover, or a gap year traveler looking for meaningful work experience - this project will be perfect for all. Even for those who are looking for an interesting family volunteering opportunity - what can be better than exploring this Southeast Asian island, soaking in the authentic vibes while working for these gentle giants!
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. 16 & 17-year olds can participate with parental consent. Children below 16 years must be accompanied by an adult or parents. All participants need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. The volunteers should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference and have a keen interest in wildlife conservation. Participants should have no criminal convictions and should provide a clean criminal background check.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
- Gather information on elephants and other wildlife and tropical ecosystems, often watching them from strategically placed treehouses
- Collect essential environmental and socio-economic data and maintain logbooks to help develop community-based conservation programs
- Participate in discussions with local villagers to help identify practical solutions to human-elephant conflicts
- Observe, assess and document human-elephant conflicts
- Teach environmental education to local school children from time to time
- Build and mend fencing to protect agricultural crops and homes from damage by wild elephants
Note: The majority of the work is conducted in the field, hence casual comfortable clothing (t-shirts, shorts, loose pants, sneakers, sandals, flipflops, hats, etc.) is recommended as participants are out in the open for significant periods of time. Sunscreen highly recommended as the sun can be strong during the day, and mosquito/insect repellents are advisable to bring as well.
Volunteer Work Schedule
All volunteers working in this project would have the following schedule -
Sunday: Arrival in Sri Lanka. A member from the local team will pick you up from the Colombo Airport and drive you straight to Wasgamuwa in a car/van. The journey takes approximately 6-7 hrs by road.Volunteers should plan to arrive before 12 noon on Sunday as it's advisable not to drive in the forest after dark. In Wasgamuwa, the local project team greets the participants and take them to the field house (where the volunteers live). Training and orientation are conducted that evening (or the next morning) and project activities begin the next morning.
Monday - Friday: Working on the project along with the local team and other volunteers.
Local transportation to and from the project is provided each day. Participants are supported throughout the duration of their stay by the local conservation and support team, who live and work in the field house with them.
Participants work for 4-6 hours during the weekdays. 2 shifts of 2-3 hours each, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.
Weekends are free for the volunteer.After completing the program duration, participants are provided with Private transfers back to the airprort.Private transfers will also be provided between Wasgamuwa and Galle and vice versa for any combination projects and tours done in our Galle project location.
On arrival, participants are picked up from Colombo airport by our driver and taken straight to Wasgamuwa (i.e., project site) in a car/van, which is roughly a 6-hour journey. Participants should plan to arrive before 12 noon on Sunday as it's advisable not to drive in the forest after dark. Private return transfer from Wasgamuwa to Colombo airport is also included on completion of the project. In some cases, participants may choose to volunteer at another project at our Galle location in which case private transfer for that too is provided by us.
Before the program begins, you’ll be provided with a brief orientation by the local team in Sri Lanka. You’ll be told about the project, your work and everything else, that you need to know while you’re there.
Volunteers stay in a field house, located amidst the lush forests of Sri Lanka. You are surrounded by a ring of striking mountains where you will look out onto a large reservoir where elephants love to bath!
The house is just 15 minutes from the Wasgamuwa National Park. The accommodation is basic with dorm-style beds (with mosquito netting) and shared bathrooms. Rooms will be allotted on the same-gender sharing basis. It’s big enough to accommodate up to 40 people at the same time, where you will stay is very spacious with a high roof, which helps to cool the property as gentle breezes blow along from the neighboring lake.
All of the essentials are provided for you, such as mosquito nets, electric fans, pillows, and clean bedsheets. However, towels & toiletries are not included - make sure to carry your own.
Volunteers will be provided with all the meals - Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can expect some of the following meals:
- Breakfast – Cereals, toast, fresh fruits
- Lunch – Salads, fresh fruits
- Dinner – Chicken, fish, vegetables, rice
Meals are usually a mix of local Sri Lankan dishes. Vegetarians can be catered for.
You’ll mostly be free on the weekends, to explore and soak in the beauty of this tropical island. There are several day trips that you can do in the vicinity, but most of the volunteers simply like to explore the beautiful area around the park, and relax in the jungle along with other fellow mates.
Please Note: -An application fee of $229 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of £179 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of $299 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of €199 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment)
What are you Paying for?
- 24 hrs Assistance and support from Staff
- Comprehensive Pre- Departure Information
- Airport Pickup on Scheduled Days
- Accommodation in a Field House near the Project
- Orientation on arrival
- Guaranteed project placement
- Private vehicle transfers from airport to project and back
- Dedicated staff support at the Project
- 24/7 local emergency support
- Travel & Medical Insurance (Available at an extra cost)
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- Visa Fee
- International Airfare
- Any personal expenses
- Additional Local Excursions and Trips
FAQ's Application and Program Details
As we have limited spots available in our programs and we serve on first come first basis, it is recommended that potential volunteers book their programs well in advance to get confirmed placements. You can book your slot by filling the application form online and pay the application fee. You can pay your program fee later and also, in installments. However, the complete payment should be made 45 days prior to the starting of the program. If you are volunteering in a group, you can also fill a group application form.
After you complete your application, your personalized ‘My Account’ will be activated.You will need to upload your CV/Resume along with your photo in the same. Our backend team and the placement site takes around 10-12 days to review your application. After we review your CV and documents, your booking is confirmed and booking confirmation is updated in your ‘My Account’. Some projects need a mandatory criminal background check and the same is mentioned in the project info of your program. Approval of your application depends on your qualification and eligibility criteria for each project.
Below are the necessary requirements to participate in the Sri Lankan volunteer projects:
The minimum age requirement for the programs in Sri Lanka is 17 years.
Volunteers participating in the Medical Program should be at least 18-year-old.
Volunteers need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. They should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
The participant must be in good health.
We encourage our participants to volunteer in a group. We take special care in providing you a placement and also customize your itinerary to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Also, we can design special group programs for groups of 5 or more. Our programs are designed to be safe, affordable and offer a great group volunteering experience to the volunteers.
In our experience of more than 12+ years, we have enabled and facilitated volunteer program placements for college groups, university groups, high school groups, group of families, group of couples as well as groups of colleagues.
When do I need to arrive in Sri Lanka for my program? What will happen once I arrive in the country ?
All volunteers need to arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on the starting date of their project. Volunteers are picked from the airport by the local coordinator or representative and are transferred to their accommodations. Accommodation will be provided in the volunteer house located near your placements.
A short orientation is given after arrival about the city and placements. The volunteers are also taken for a short tour of Colombo before they start with their program. However, the tour depends on the arrival time of your flight.
If you are planning to come for multiple programs in your trip, you will have to pay the application fees just once. Your application fee is valid for a year's time ( from the date of application). You will not have to pay the application fees again if you come within the mentioned time frame.
For our returning volunteers, $50 discount is provided for the application fee for their next VolSol program.
Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The certificate is provided on request.
Volunteers usually work for 5 to 6 hours a day depending on their program. However, volunteers need to be flexible, open minded and understand that work requirements can alter at times.
Flights and Visa
Volunteers traveling to Sri Lanka need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) prior to their arrival or on their arrival in Sri Lanka. You can then obtain a Visa on Arrival in Sri Lanka for 30 days.
Volunteers can apply for ETA online and the approval of the same will be communicated via email.
Volunteers can be provided with the supporting documents if needed. More information will be provided once you enroll for the program.
The Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo is well connected with all major airports across the globe and flights are easily available. The recommended airlines are:
There are frequent in-country flights from Colombo to Galle and Kegalle as well.
Health and Safety
Sri Lanka is one of the popular tropical destination in Asia and attracts travelers from all around the world. The locals are friendly and helpful as well, however, it is recommended to consult your in-country coordinators before you step out alone or go to any other locations in Sri Lanka. Also, it is recommended to be with your group whenever you venture out or stay out late in the night. It is strongly recommended to follow the safety rules and regulations provided by the in-country coordinator.
We recommend you to consult your physician or travel doctor before traveling to Sri Lanka. However, we recommend you take general vaccinations such as:
Hepatitis A and B
Yes, for all volunteers it is mandatory to have a travel medical insurance. To provide the best option to our participants, we offer comprehensive insurance coverage in collaboration with a leading insurance provider.
Considering the fact that Sri Lanka is a tropical country, the weather is mostly hot and humid. For people traveling from European and North American countries, it might seem to extremely hot during the days and sultry at night. We would advise you to consume a lot of water and protect yourself from the sun in whichever way possible. Carry an umbrella.
You can consult your doctor once, before traveling to Sri Lanka.
Accommodation and Living
Your coordinator will meet you at the airport and will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to our team and other volunteers. You will then be provided with the orientation covering areas like culture, customs, safety, locations, placement, greetings, local transportation etc.
Volunteers joining the programs in Galle, Sri Lanka, get to stay in the quaint Unawatuna neighborhood, overlooking the famous Unawatuna Beach and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The volunteer house has 11 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms.Most of these rooms have ocean views! There's a private 40-foot outdoor swimming pool surrounded by tropical greenery. The house also has 3 kitchens as well as 3 living/common rooms (one each per floor), a prominent dining area, and a private outdoor garden with seating/lounging areas.
The office is located on the ground floor of the house near the main entrance – this is where the local team operate from every day. The house is located in a peaceful, nature-filled neighborhood adjacent to a small Buddhist temple (nestled away from the main tourist areas). To ensure the safety and security of the participants, there are CCTV cameras installed, and an in-house security guard for night-time surveillance. Hot water and high-speed Wi-Fi are there and you can opt for air-conditioning and laundry facilities at an additional charge.
Other than that, we also provide single/double/family private room upgrades at extra charges. The beach is just about 5 minutes walk from the stay and you can reach the Galle Fort in about 15 minutes.
Volunteers working in Wasgamuwa National Park are given accommodation in a field house in close vicinity of the project location. Three meals are provided in a day including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The food is tasty, hygienic and nutritious, suitable for all volunteers.
Breakfast usually comprises of Bread, Butter, Jam, Bun or Rolls, Eggs and Fruits like Banana & Pineapple & Tea. The lunch includes Sri Lankan style rice and curry and the dinner includes noodles, spaghetti, pasta, chapati, hoppers or String Hoppers with curry.
If you have special dietary requirements, please mention the same in your application form.
Depending on your project placement, you will get free evenings and weekends to explore in and around the city. You can utilize the evening time to visit local markets and other places around your project location. Make the most of your weekends by exploring Sri Lanka to the fullest.
We encourage our volunteers to travel. We have designed various weekend tours which can be booked under the ‘Add-on Tours’ section in your ‘My Account’. Your in-country coordinator will also help you book and organize the tours once you are in Sri Lanka.
Places like Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Rumassala Mountain, and Galle fort are major attractions in Galle, and Kegalle is a city of ancient architecture and natural beauty. Volunteers are free to plan quick getaways and explore Sri Lanka during the weekends.You can also relax at the beachside and enjoy the taste of the delicious seafood.
Your program fee covers your accommodation, airport pick-up, orientation, pre-departure booklet, and 24x7 in country staff support. You will need to cover your personal expenses, such as traveling, telephone, the internet, shopping, sightseeing, return airport drop, weekend tours etc. You should carry around $50 - $60 per week for your basic personal expenses, such as water, local transport, phone etc.
You can change money at any bank or at the airport by showing your passport. There are ATMs located all around the city (Galle, Kandy, Ambalangoda and Kegalle) as well.
Connect with Past Volunteers
How can I connect with past Volunteering Solutions Sri Lankan alumni as well as other former and current volunteers ?
We encourage volunteers to connect with former Volunteering Solutions participants and also other program participants joining our projects. You are recommended to join the Volunteering Solutions Facebook Page or Facebook Group to connect with other participants and our team.
To read alumni interviews from past participants, visit the Meet a Volunteer section on our website