Want to do something life changing with your next holiday? Well here’s your chance to explore and discover the real Sri Lanka where you will get to see some amazing scenery, meet friendly locals and volunteer on rewarding projects to help make a difference.
One of our favourite and most popular destinations, Sri Lanka has it all. This truly magnificent and uncrowded country has a wealth of culture, an abundance of golden sandy beaches with crystal clear seas, lush rain forests, 8 Unesco World Heritage Sites, masses of wildlife and plenty more to experience.
Our three week action packed group adventure will allow you to learn all about Buddhism by visiting the famous Temple of Tooth Temple in Kandy, climb Sigiriya Rock, pick tea in ‘Little England’, swim under mesmerising waterfalls, visit the World’s End, have a go at stick fishing in Mirissa, relax on the beautiful beaches and get up close to some amazing wildlife on safari!
Our structured itinerary will allow you to make the most of your three-week trip, taking in the famous and best sights as well as the not so known local treasures. We have maximised time to provide you with something different and exciting everyday, while keeping transit times to a minimum.
You will travel by private mini bus in a small group of no more than 15, where you will get to make lasting friendships and memories. Our local coordinator will accompany you throughout your stay, so you can learn all about the local culture and history.
For the last part of your trip, your time will be split between sightseeing, volunteering and relaxing. You will have the opportunity to help make a difference to the local community by teaching English to young children or to help aid in the conservation of the endangered sea turtles at our local hatchery / sanctuary.
Our volunteering programmes will allow you to immerse yourself into the local culture and make a positive impact in the area. Our project sites are located on the west coast of Sri Lanka where you will get to spend your free time basking in the sun at the stunning beaches, catching a wave in the clear blue sea or chilling at a funky beach bar.
The Sri Lanka Experience will be running on the following dates; 9th June 2018, 7th July 2018, 11th August 2018, 6th April 2019, 8th June 2019, 6th July 2019, 20th July 2019 and the 10th August 2019. If you are not able to start on any of these dates, please let us know as we may be able to add further dates.
Day 1 – Arrive At Colombo & Orientation
Your journey begins! Our local coordinator will be waiting for you at Colombo Airport where he will be holding a named sign.
You will then be transported to our volunteer accommodation in Watalla (a short drive from Colombo) to settle in and meet your fellow volunteers. Later that day, our local coordinator will provide you with an in-depth orientation that will go through everything you need to know for your trip. You will be guided through safety precautions and what you should expect as well as useful Sinhalese phrases.
Day 2 – Temple of the Tooth & Bahirawakanda Temple
Today your adventure starts and we head to the World Heritage City of Kandy that has many iconic sites and a rich cultural history. We will get to visit the Temple of the Scared Tooth which houses the most important Buddhist relic in the world – a tooth of the Buddha. On entering the temple, you will be awed by the elaborate carvings and intricate decorations, a complete contrast to the exterior. After leaving your lotus blossom as an offering we will move on.
As you walk around Kandy lake be sure to feed the thousands of fishes that follow you and to keep an eye out for the many bats sleeping in the trees!
Built into the top of a mountain and rising up above Kandy, is the Bahirawakanda Temple, a massive statue of Lord Buddha. When you reach the top, you will be greeted with remarkable views of Kandy Town and the mountain range that surrounds it.
After learning all about the history of Sri Lanka and the Buddhist Philosophy, we will travel to Sigiriya.
Day 3 – Sigiriya Lions Rock & Local Culture Show
We will spend the morning by visiting the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, also known as Mount Of Remembrance. We will get to climb and explore the wonders of this former cultural capital that is built on top of a 180 metre high granite rock known as ‘Lions Rock’. On a small plateau about halfway up, you will come across the gateway which is in the form of an enormous lion which leads up to ancient graffiti and elaborate water gardens. After taking in some panoramic views, we will head back to Kandy and check into the hotel.
That evening we will head off to see the well renowned Kandyan dancing and drumming show – one of Sri Lanka’s iconic performing arts. Dressed in elaborate and traditional costumes, dancers will twirl, stamp and gyrate to a pulsating accompaniment of mass drumming.
Day 4 – Tea Plantations & Waterfalls
Time to see a different side of Sri Lanka that is the highest, wildest and seen as the most beautiful part – the southern hill country. As we drive along the winding roads and start to climb the hills we will make several stops to take in the amazing scenery and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the monkeys! Don’t forget your swimming costume, as we’ll be swimming under some waterfalls to cool down and relax!
When we stop at one of the most famous tea plantations in the world, you will get to go on a guided tour of the factory and also have a cup of tea! You’ll be able to purchase some to take back home to share with friends and family as well! As we leave, you will get to pick some of your own tea leaves from the surrounding tea plantations!
After a short drive we will arrive at Nuwara Eliya, located in the heart of Sri Lanka. Often known as ‘Little England’ as it was established by British colonialists, the town is surrounded by lush green hills and tea plantations.
After checking into the guesthouse, you will have the afternoon to explore the sights and to relax.
Day 5 – Horton Plains / The Worlds End
You’ll be up early today so not to miss the spectacular views that will be on offer. Arriving at Horton Plains, we will leave the mini bus behind and embark on a 9.5km round trip that will take a leisurely 3 hours, where you will come across amazing views, waterfalls and wildlife. The highlight of the trek is when the plateau comes to a sudden end at Worlds End, a stunning 1,000 metre vertical drop that provides views of the tea-plantation villages in the valley below and an unencumbered view towards the coast.
As we drive back down the winding roads, we will make a pit-stop in Ella where you can grab something to eat and give your legs a rest! You will also have another chance to take a dip and swim under some famous waterfalls as we head off to Udawala.
Day 6 – Elephants in Udawala
Today we get to meet some baby elephants! The Elephant Transit Home is supported by the Born Free Foundation and provides a safe haven for orphaned baby elephants. Providing everything they need to grow big and strong, the elephants are then released back into the wild after rehabilitation to live a normal life. During set times each day, you can watch the baby elephants being fed from a viewing platform nearby. You can also learn all about this wonderful sanctuary and read information about some of the elephants that currently stay here. With over 100 successful releases over the years, we are very proud to support this wonderful organisation.
We will then travel to Yala, where we will check into the hotel.
Day 7 – Safari In Yala National Park
One of the highlights of our Sri Lanka Experience is a morning safari in Yala National Park. Famous for having the highest concentration of leopards in the world, and sporting over 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species there are many photo moments. Among their more famous residents are leopards, elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, wild buffaloes, macaque monkeys and crocodiles.
After your magical morning in Yala, we will head off to Mirissa stopping at Ussangoda – an area with a very unusual and beautiful landscape, home to many myths and legends.
Once we have dropped our belongings off at the hotel in Mirissa, we will then have the evening free to relax and have a meal together or even go out and party!
Day 8 – Stick Fishing & Relaxing in Mirissa
Over the weekend, we will have a lot more time to sit still and enjoy our surroundings. With one of the best stretches of coastline in the whole of the island, you can bask in the sun on the golden sandy beaches, catch some waves in the crystal clear Indian Ocean or even try out some water sports! There are many beach bars and restaurants where you can unwind, socialise and have a good time well into the night!
You will have the chance to learn about and even have a go at stick fishing – the traditional Sri Lankan way.
Day 9 – Whale Watching & Orientation
We will need to be up nice and early today to hop aboard our whale watching boat. One of the best places to spot marine wildlife, you may get the opportunity to see many different whale & dolphin species as well turtles and flying fish.
If you prefer, you can spend the day further relaxing on the beach until the early afternoon.
Later on that day, we will head to the volunteer accommodation in Galle and get settled in. This will now be our home for the rest of our trip and you will get to introduce yourselves to the other volunteers that are currently on projects.
Our local team will provide an orientation about the local area, information about all of the programmes we run and what the plan is for the next 2 weeks.
Days 10 – 14 – Volunteering
Today is your first day of volunteering and one of our local coordinators will accompany you to the project site (normally by tuk tuk or private car). You will be introduced to the other local staff members and shown around the project.
Most of our programmes start in the morning around 8:30am and last 3 to 4 hours, however there may be opportunities to be involved in similar activities across other sites with slightly different timings.
You can choose to volunteer on a number of our projects, including:
You’ll be in personal contact with all of our local coordinators, who are on hand 24/7 to assist you with anything you may need.
Day 15 – Galle & Galle Fort
We’ll head off to Galle Fort today, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This amazing site is full of cultural history and not only will you get to learn a lot about its past, but you will also get to enjoy the amazing views it offers over the southern coast.
You will spend the day exploring this exotic old trading port that has ancient mosques, churches, grand mansions and museums. Wandering its small lanes, you will pass many stylish cafes and quirky boutiques where you can spend time relaxing.
Day 16 – Free Day
We thought it would be good to provide at least one day that has no plan whatsoever! You are free to do as you wish; stay in bed all day, watch some DVDS in the lounge or head into town. For the more adventurous volunteers, we recommend travelling to some of the nearby beaches, including; Bentota, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. These stunning beaches all have a range of restaurants, funky beach bars and lots of water sports and activities.
Days 17 – 21 – Volunteering
You will have another full week volunteering, where you will get to make a positive difference to the local communities or help aid the conservation efforts of the endangered sea turtles.
You are more than welcome to change over programmes and try something different, we just ask that you let our local team know as soon as possible.
Day 22 – Last Day
Unfortunately, your amazing journey has come to an end. It’s time to travel back to the airpot to head home or onto your next destination. Return airport transfers are not included within the programme fee, and cost around £45. It is more than likely your fellow travellers will be heading in the same direction so you should be able to split the fee up between everyone.
If you would like to extend your stay and help volunteer for a further week or two then we can certainly arrange this for you.
During the travelling part of The Sri Lanka Experience you will be staying in accommodation organised by us. This will consist of various guesthouses / hotels where you will share a room with fellow volunteers. All rooms will have fans or air conditioning and have western style bathrooms.
Although basic, the guest houses will all be clean and comfortable and perfect for getting a good night’s rest. If you would like to know some of the guesthouses we use, please just let me know.
We cannot think of anywhere better to stay when volunteering in Sri Lanka! Our volunteer accommodation is just a stones throw away (10 second walk) from a quiet golden sand beach that is lined with palm trees – paradise!
It’s the perfect place to come and relax each evening and witness some incredible sunsets. Not only this, but you can snorkel in the crystal clear waters that has an abundance of colourful fish swimming around the coral reef and you may even see a sea turtle swim by!
For all wildlife lovers, there are regular sightings of sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs just metres away from the accommodation! Our local team will happily come on walks late into the evening or wake you up in the night so you can witness this magnificent experience.
Our spacious and comfortable volunteer accommodation is set on a large plot of land where you will be staying in one of our purpose built houses. Surrounded by the jungle on one side and the beach on the other, you have the best of both worlds! You can sit back and relax outside under the sun while drinking from a King Coconut that grow on the many palm trees around the accommodation or top up your tan over at the beach.
Everyone comes together to eat their delicious meals outside under a traditional shelter where you can all share stories and you’ll even be able to hear the waves crashing down. This is also the perfect place for impromptu parties and BBQ’s where you can socialise into the night looking up at the dark starry sky.
You will be sharing a room with up to 5 other volunteers in spacious bedrooms in comfy bunk beds (all bedding and mosquito nets are provided). All rooms have the added luxury of air-conditioning and modern en-suite bathrooms. If you’re lucky you could be staying in one of the bedrooms that have a small balcony where you can look far into the jungle and you can even see the sea!
Wi-Fi is available throughout the accommodation although this can be intermittent. Our local team are more than happy to provide laundry services at a small charge.
The backpacker town of Hikkaduwa is just a 5-minute tuk tuk ride away where you can visit many restaurants and bars that back right onto the beach. A favourite town amongst most volunteers, there are many supermarkets, quirky shops and water activities on offer – including surfing.
The accommodation is also conveniently located close to the historic town of Galle and famous beaches including Mirissa, Unawatuna and Ambalangoda. There are also great bus and train links that allow you to easily explore the rest of the country.
Wifi – Yes
People per room – Up to 6
Single sex rooms – Yes
Nearest ATM & shops – 5 minute drive
This is your chance to live life like a local and try some mouth-watering local cuisine! You will be served three meals per day across the whole of your trip. Meals are aimed to be as varied as possible and include many traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. You can expect some of the following meals:
Breakfast – Toast, omelette, string hoppers, fresh fruits, tea, milk
Lunch – Rice, vegetables, chicken, fish, dhal, curry, poppadoms
Dinner – Noodles, rice, pasta, hoppers, vegetables, curry
When are the start dates?
The Real Sri Lanka Experience will currently start on the following dates:
9th June 2018
7th July 2018
11th August 2018
6th April 2019
8th June 2019
6th July 2019
20th July 2019
10th August 2019
If you are interested in this amazing experience but cannot start on any of the above dates, please contact us.
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers from any background, religion and nationality, as long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 16 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it does not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (CMB) on your selected Saturday start date. You will be met by one of our local team members or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign and who will then take you straight to the volunteer accommodation.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day. Our local team will be happy to help organise any onward journeys or book transport back to the airport.
Are there any age restrictions for solo travellers?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 16 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive and we regularly have volunteers of all ages.
What is the minimum age for travelling with my family?
If you are travelling with family and at least one member is aged 18 years old or over, then we welcome anyone from 12 years and up.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise that you apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates. Some of our programmes have limited capacity and spaces can get filled up quickly.
It is possible to change your start dates once you have been accepted, however this is subject to availability and can attract a small administration fee.
What will my itinerary be?
Please see the main description for a full itinerary.
How will I be transported around Sri Lanka?
During your time with us, you will be transported in a private mini bus. When volunteering, you may take a tuk tuk or private car to the project site.
What kind of accommodation will I be staying in when travelling?
During the travelling part of the experience, you will be staying in 3 / 4 star guesthouses and hotels. All are very comfortable, clean and perfect for getting a good nights rest. If you would like to know some of the guesthouses we use, please contact us.
Is there Internet and phone signal?
There is Wi-Fi within the volunteer accommodation and at most guesthouses that you will be staying at. If you are wanting to call home or use the internet while out and about, we recommend that you bring an unlocked phone and purchase a local sim card – our local team can assist. Alternatively, you can buy a cheap phone while in Sri Lanka for under £15.
What is Akurala like?
Our volunteer accommodation is conveniently located between Hikkaduwa and Ambalangoda. With the palm tree lined beaches just a 20 second walk across the road, you can spend your evenings relaxing and watching the sunset. Most amenities are a short drive away and are easily accessible by tuk tuk – costing just a few pounds.
Hikkaduwa is a 10-minute drive south and has a string of mellow beach bars and restaurants, good diving and surf schools as well as many activities and excursions. You will spend most of your free time here on the beaches and at the funky bars, leaving the weekends to head further afield!
Ambalangoda is just 6 kilometres in the other direction and is normally overshadowed by Hikkaduwa. Famous for its production of devil masks and dances, there are many random things to see and do. The town has a rich Buddhist history and has the longest sleeping Buddha statue measuring 35 metres.
All amenities are nearby, including ATMs, hospitals, restaurants (serving local and western food), as well as good transport links to the rest of Sri Lanka – including a bus and train station.
The Mighty Roar Local Team in Sri Lanka
Our programmes in Sri Lanka are run by our dedicated local team, who are committed to ensuring you have the best time ever. Harsha, Charith and other team members provide the structure for your stay, including the accommodation, meals, airport pickup, in-country orientation and of course support.
They are sure to become your good friends and you will not meet nicer people that are willing to do everything in their power to make your stay the most memorable.
Will I get an in-country orientation?
Yes. Your orientation will go through everything you need to know for your time in Sri Lanka. You will be shown around Hikkaduwa, where the shops, ATM and taxi rank will all be pointed out to you. If you need to, our local team can assist with any currency exchange and help you pickup anything you may need.
We will also show you the main points of interest, such as western restaurants, the stunning beach, bars and other attractions.
Our local coordinator will go through all of the important health and safety information that you should follow during your time in Sri Lanka. You’ll learn about the Sri Lankan way of life and the cultural differences.
What is the weather like in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has a rather complicated climate due to the fact that the island is affected by two separate monsoons. This does mean however, that there is good weather somewhere on the island at most times of the year.
As Sri Lanka is positioned close to the Equator, it does mean there is a fairly consistent temperature all year round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26-30°C, which often rises well into the 30°C’s during the hottest part of the day.
Humidity is high everywhere, rising to a sweltering 90% at times in the southwest, and averaging 60 to 80% across the rest of the island.
If you have checked the weather report on your phone then no doubt it will say rain or thunderstorms all week. This simply is not the case. Even during the wettest months, rain will come in short bursts, so although there may be a lot of rainfall in a day, it does not mean it rains for a long time.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are. The majority of volunteers that we host, come from the UK, US, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
We have many volunteers that travel with their friends, family members or with their partner. If required, we can ensure that you are based on the same project and stay within the same accommodation. On request, we can normally organise a private room too.
Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?
We regularly visit and participate in each and every one of the programmes we offer in Sri Lanka to rigorously check all aspects of the project and accommodation are safe and that all procedures are being followed. These include but are not limited to checking the living conditions within the volunteer accommodations, checking the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, tasting the food you’ll be eating and going on any weekend trips recommended by us or our local team.
We monitor the stability of all of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis and have constant contact with our overseas teams to ensure that our volunteers are safe.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive volunteer handbook when you choose to join us on one of our programmes. This detailed document addresses a large range of issues such as health, safety, visas, as well as going into details about local cultures and traditions.
When you arrive in-country, you will be given a safety briefing during your orientation that will cover things like emergency procedures, how to use local transport and any cultural differences.
Our in-country team are on hand to help with any issues or to answer any questions and please do not forget that our UK office is available 24/7 in case of any rare emergencies.
While we can never guarantee your volunteer experience will be 100% trouble free, we have taken all of the necessary precautions to minimise all risks and to ensure the programme is as safe as possible.
Before You Depart
When do I pay? Can I pay in instalments?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of £129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due no less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payment methods, such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application has been successful.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a compulsory part of your volunteering trip, that’s why we have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy. It is suitable for all of the programmes we offer and can be taken out at any time. You can read more about our insurance here.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, that all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try our best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would affect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that affect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. It’s recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that £50 – £100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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