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Volunteering in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is famous for its 1,600 km of unspoilt, golden beaches. It's a paradise Island shaped like a tear drop in the Indian Ocean.

The people are friendly, food delicious and costs low! A stunning island filled with beaches and wild life sanctuaries, ancient cities, hills, beaches, and most of all, it's incredible beauty.

Conservation  Teaching
Internships  Care for Children
Sports Coaching  Meditation Courses  More About Sri Lanka


An Elephant Experience at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
This renowned Orphanage provides care and shelter for around 80 elephants that are either too old to work, have been abused found abandoned. This is an elephant experience rather than conservation.

Visitors from all over the world come to see the 80+ elephants that live there, including some small babies who have been born into the herd. The daily highlight is the walk from the Orphanage down to the river to bathe the elephants. It's amazing to watch an entire herd splashing around and rolling in the river, just a few feet in front of you!


Elephant and Wildlife Conservation in Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka
Help conserve the Elephants and other wildlife of Sri Lanka in Wasgamuwa National Park. The main aim of thise project is to "save elephants, other biodiversity and their habitats by helping people". Go back to the very basics, in a stunningly beautiful part of the world, helping local people and the local wildlife.

The activities on this project are diverse - one moment you could be observing elephants overnight in a tree-house, and the next you could be helping to reduce human-elephant conflict within the national park.


Help with Turtle Conservation in Ambalangoda
This Project works towards preventing the extinction of sea turtles, a critically endangered species. You will help in the rehabilitation and release back into the sea of turtles that are usually victims of commercial fishing. 

You'll assist in treating injured and sick sea turtles, protecting nests, and rescuing eggs so that they can be hatched without incident in the safety of our hatchery.

Help with Turtle Conservation in Sri Lanka

Law Work Experience Internship in Negombo Beach in Sri Lanka
Intern in a small practice in Negombo (5 lawyers), which means you'll gain experience across all areas of law. The variety will be greater than you would be exposed to in a big practice. There are 3 Courts in Negombo and proceedings in two of them are conducted in English. You'll have opportunity to attend both 'English-language' Courts and well as assisting in other duties, such as drafting legal documents, in the office.

Buddhist Temple Renovation, Restoration and Construction, in Kandy
Rebuild and renovate Buddhist temples in and around Kandy. This unique and fascinating project offers an opportunity to learn about Sri Lankan construction using traditional manual methods, without using modern machinery.

Work includes construction, repainting temples, cleaning in and around temples; interacting with children and villagers and helping the Temples arrange Community Centres for the village youths. You'll also assist with the restoration of paintings and sculptures inside the temples.
Renovation and Construction of Buddhist Temples in Sri Lanka with Travellers Worldwide, for Volunteering Gap Year, Career Break, Grownup Gappers

Care and Community Volunteering with Children, Women, Boys and Elders, in Kandy
Help the local community by assisting in a broad range of  activities. Choose from one (or more, or even all) of the following areas to help in:

1) Babies Orphanage
2) Womens’ Project
3) Elders’ Home
4) Orphan Care
5) Building and Renovation – or you could even help to rebuild and renovate Buddhist temples!


Teach Monks in Temples and Children in Schools in Kandy
Help on this education program by teaching Monks in the temples, and children in pre-schools and upper schools in the villages. The objective is to help them improve their English language.

You'll primarily teach English, but you can also help to teach Drama, Music and other foreign Languages. You'll assist other teachers and staff and may have to create teaching plans, etc. 

Teach Monks and Children in Sri Lanka with Travellers Worldwide

Teach Children in Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka
Teach children in a village a 10 minute drive from Wasgamuwa National Park.  Go back to basics in a stunningly beautiful location, helping local people and the local wildlife. Here you'll do extremely worthwhile and rewarding work and building towards making a real difference in a very special rural community.

The location is breathtaking with incredible scenery and wildlife in the remote hinterland of the island which, according to the locals, is the most beautiful place in Sri Lanka!. The surrounding jungles and villages can be explored easily by foot or bike and trips to other parks in the region can be arranged.

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CAN'T CHOOSE? Call our Sri Lanka Project Consultant, Ivy Adams,
for free advice and guidance on which Project would be best for you.

"I had the time of my life in Sri Lanka. It was FANTASTIC, I wish the entire experience had never had to end. I would just like to say thank you to your team of organisers for organising the spectacular trip. And also a big thank you to Roshan, Shivani ... and all the boys at the house for making my stay very welcoming and memorable. I miss them all very much."
Rajni Kanda

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There's good swimming at any number of beaches along the south-western coast. Excellent scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing are found at Hikkaduwa, there's pleasant snorkelling at Unawatuna, and sailing, windsurfing and water skiing on the Bentota River. For trekking, try climbing Adam's Peak or walking across the strange silent plateau of Horton Plains near Nuwara Eliya to see the 700m (2296ft) drop at World's End.

"The people I spoke to at Travellers in the UK were fantastically helpful and very friendly. I felt I could have asked them about anything." Joanna Blundell.

Animal life is profuse and includes the ubiquitous elephant, as well as leopards, deer, monkeys, sloth bears, wild boar, cobras, crocodiles, dugong and turtles. The island is an important seasonal home to migrating birds, including flamingoes, who flock to the lagoons, wetlands and bird sanctuaries for respite from the northern winter.

Letter from Travellers Volunteer Alice Nimmo: "Hello Travellers, I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time I had in Sri Lanka in March this year at the elephant orphanage! I can't fault the experience at all, and the staff were fantastic. I have definitely taken a love for visiting countries of completely different culture now, and hope I can take part in another voluntary work placement in Africa in the next couple of years. Thank you for all your help, you were fantastic at sorting it out for me and nothing ever went wrong, apart from the monsoon season coming a little earlier than planned!

Siresh was fantastic and was always concerned for the safety of us - he also had a very good sense of humour and the language barrier was ever so funny. And also Chandana, who cooked amazing food, I was in heaven with all the spicy curries, and Ajeet for keeping the house so clean, oh yes, and who could forget Mandulla, the van driver, always on time, and Nirangela, the wacky chirpy lady. Thank you again and hope to see you in the future."

Climate: The driest and best seasons are from December to March on the west and south coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September on the east coast. December to March is also the time when most foreign tourists come, the majority of them escaping the European winter.

The coastal stretch south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy expanses as far as the eye can see. The Kandyan dances, a procession of elephants or the masked devil dances. Then there are the ruins, ancient and inspiring architecture in the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa to satisfy any archaeologist.

Udaya Nanayakkara, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, says ... "Sri Lanka has been the focus of the world’s attention since the tsunami hit our shores on December 26, 2004. And while we will never forget the enormous impact on our coastline and the sadness caused by the deaths of 107 tourists and 30,618 Sri Lankan's, our people have shown a remarkable resilience, an amazing determination to rebuild our lives and our nation, to emerge even stronger than we were before.

Tourism is key to that rebuilding process. A healthy tourist industry will provide jobs and in turn the dignity that will put the world-famous smile back on Sri Lankan faces. In urging visitors to return to our shores, it is important to present the real facts about Sri Lanka, a true picture of the situation on a daily basis."

“Having finally returned home from Sri Lanka, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Travellers for helping to organise my trip. I had the most amazing time and will definitely be going back there as soon as possible! I really enjoyed my placements, living in both the Ja-Ela and Kegalle houses was great fun and I’ve made some fantastic friends.” Jennifer Rowe



Colombo is the capital city and the commercial center of Sri Lanka, filled with shopping centres and all modern facilities. The city has an eclectic blend of old and new, traditional and modern, Eastern and Western. Colombo, the island's largest city, is noisy, frenetic - and just a little crazy. Thankfully, the breakdowns, snarled traffic and power cuts are received with a shrug and a smile. 'No problem' might be the national motto; it's certainly the one phrase everyone knows and can say. 

Colombo is a relatively easy city to find your way around. To the north is the Fort district, the country's business center, which has department stores, book shops, airline offices and is the site of the Central Bank which the Tamil Tigers blew up in January 1996. There are also ample sights such as the clock tower, a former lighthouse, the president's residence (known by incorrigible traditionalists as Queen's House), and a cluster of colonial buildings which lend the district an aura of bygone Empire.

Immediately south of here is Galle Face Green, a seafront expanse of occasional green graced by cricket games, kite flyers and trysting lovers. Cinammon Gardens, further south, is Colombo's most fashionable neighbourhood, with elegant mansions, tree-lined streets and the city's largest park. East of the fort is the pungent Pettah bazaar district. Walk through and marvel at the riot of goods - fruit, vegetables, meat, gems, gold, silver, brass and tin junk.

Culture buffs shouldn't miss the National Museum, which has a good collection of historical works, the Art Gallery, which focuses on portraiture and temporary exhibits by local artists, and the city's many mosques and Buddhist and Hindu temples. After familiarising yourself with Sri Lankan culture, check out the island's fauna at the Dehiwala Zoo. The highlight here is an afternoon elephant show. The closest real beach is at Mt Lavinia, a faded resort 10km south of the city. Budget accommodation, cheap food and the best shopping can be found in the Fort and Pettah districts. Nightlife is moribund, though a visit to the cinema in the Fort district is an experience.

Work Experience and work based learning placements in Sri Lanka

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You will never be short of something to do in Sri Lanka - wherever you are based on your project you will be able to reach some of the most incredible beaches, cultural sites including ancient temples and cities, aromatic tea plantations and exhilarating waterfalls in the rolling hill country. The famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is also a "must-see" on this paradise island.

In Sri Lanka, every sight, sound and smell will engulf you with new experiences. Take an early morning train ride from Colombo to Hikkaduwa and watch in awe as you travel past some of the most incredible scenery. Smiling children will wave at you from shanty towns lining the outskirts of Colombo, but these soon give way to views across paddy fields where buffalo and cows can be seen grazing. As your journey continues the train tracks begin to run parallel to the beach and you will be left mesmerised by the incredible sights in this friendly country.

EXCITING RURAL PROJECT: Wasgamuwa - teach in the heart of this amazing country!

"A fantastic experience and also a life changing one!  I have made beautiful friends for life and cannot settle back home!
I have to go back to Sri Lanka soon to collect my heart!"
  Debbie Atkinson


The Southern coastline of this little island is littered with long stretches of deserted golden beaches. These are beaches that we Westerners merely dream about and the reality is no disappointment at all. Soft golden sands, glistening deep turquoise waters at refreshingly comfortable temperatures, banana and coconut trees swaying in the backdrop breeze and little wooden ocean side huts you can rent for under £5 a night!

Our favourite beaches are:

NEGOMBO: To the north of Colombo lies Negombo, a busting fishing town with golden beaches and a pallet of colour provided by sails and boats against the deep blue of the ocean. 

UNAWATUNA: A sleepy peaceful cove with deep still water and a temple overlooking the bay from the protecting cliffs.

HIKKADUWA: A long stretch of beach with plenty of hostels, restaurants and some nice bars, not forgetting the impromptu beach parties held on the beach front bars blaring Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led Zeplin and many other classics! Sri Lanka is a conservative island brimming with culture and Hikkaduwa offers an exciting opportunity to vacation for the odd celebratory weekend! Many a volunteer birthday has been seen in over Hikkaduwa cocktails. You can also body board and even surf on this beach.

MIRISSA: Perhaps a contender for the most beautiful beach in the world. Long, deserted and hot. You know you have got away from it all as you sit and watch the sun set over this horizon…The snorkelling is also incredible here.

ARUGAM BAY: This tiny fishing village is Sri Lanka’s newest hot spot and hosts the best surfing and an easy going happy party atmosphere. With its wide sweeping beach in front of the village and year round gorgeous swimming it is no surprise that this bay has developed into a low budget travellers haunt.

"Thank you for the experience you gave me, it was stunning and a memory that always always always
brings me warmth"
Tim Hancock

Hikkaduwa Beach

Morning sunrise on the south coast


Known as the ‘Royal City’, Kandy is the laidback capital of Sri Lanka’s beautiful hill country. The second biggest city in Sri Lanka (next to Colombo), Kandy has much to offer. From the golden Temple of the Tooth to the heaving street side stalls. The smells of aromatic spices and the hectic clutter of city life are in stark contrast to the drowsy village existence out of town.

Kandy is situated in a bowl of hills and takes 1 hour to get to by bus from the Pinawala Elephant Orphanage. A vast lake forms a center piece of the town and throughout the year several fascinating festivals are held in Kandy. This is the town to see traditional Sri Lankan dancing and the Kandy festival in July is an experience not to be missed. Elephants in traditional dress parade the streets and the town ignites with music and dancing and general Sri Lankan mayhem! Bus and Train routes from Kandy connect you to the rest of the island.

The Hill Country is exceptionally beautiful, with crystal clear waterfalls and tea plantations dotted throughout. The temperature in this region stays cool all year round, in an atmosphere of early morning Spring. Everything is green and lush and the landscape is elevated with layers of grass knolls and jagged waterfalls with dense mountain forest clinging to the upper slopes. The days drift by in the hill country with not much to do but drink tea (in abundance) and absorb the serenity and breathtaking walks and views. There are several little towns that are certainly worth a visit, such as Nuwara Eliya. There are also some majestic feats of nature to explore, namely Worlds End and Adams Peak.

Worlds End is located in the Horton Plains, which is a rolling highland terrain of grassland interspersed with forest and unusual high-altitude vegetation. The plains reach over 2000 meters high with the mountains of Kirigalpotta and Totapola looming up from the edges of the plateau. The most tremendous feature of the strange silent world of the plains however is Worlds End, where the plains abruptly stop leaving you hovering over a straight drop of 880 meters.

Adams Peak, hailed as the sacred footprint of Adam, the Buddha, Lord Shiva and others, many have laid claim to this fascinating center for pilgrimage. Whichever legend motivates you, nobody should leave Sri Lanka without having taken part in this extraordinary experience into the spiritual realm. Adam’s Peak (known also as Sri Pada) is a mountain peak where Sri Lankan in myth, the butterflies go to die. It has been a pilgrimage center for over 1000 years. Today the pilgrimage begins on December’s poya day (full moon) and runs until the Vesak festival in May.

A temple sits at the mountain’s summit and resting places are dotted along the steps for weary pilgrims to rest upon. During pilgrim season there is a steady stream of dedicated pilgrims and the occasional tourist climbing the 5200 steps to the pinnacle. If you are fit and well and decide to climb Adams Peak it is an unforgettable experience. Climbers leave anytime between the fall of darkness (7pm) and 2am from the village of Dalhousie. Take a warm sleeping bag with you to keep you warm overnight when you reach the summit. The climb is mostly steps and taking into account plenty of rest stops you should reach the peak in 2.5 to 4 hours.

You want to arrive before dawn (about 6:30am), settle into your warm clothes and sleeping bag and watch amongst the throng of pilgrims in awed silence as the sun rises casting a mountain shaped shadow over the land before you. Take plenty of water although during season there are also teahouses lining the journey.

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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a sanctuary for rescued, injured or abused elephants and attracts visitors from all over the world to view these magnificent animals. Around 80 elephants have found homes at Pinnawala, including some small babies who have been born into the herd.

Visitors are permitted to walk around the orphanage grounds and watch some of the elephants being fed. At 10am and 2pm the elephants are taken to the river for 2 hours where they wash and play in the water. These incredibly gentle animals are fascinating to watch, and the surrounding palm trees provide a dramatic backdrop to this daily ritual. 

Our 'Elephant Experience' Project at Pinnawala is outstanding - for a description of the placement and the work you can do in this stunning place, please click here.

History: The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, established in 1975, commenced with five orphans. Today some of these orphans enjoy the fortune of seeing their grandchildren born in the same location. The original objective of establishing the orphanage was inclined towards tourism, but it soon became a conservation and educational center. With the help of local and foreign elephant experts, Pinnawala started a scientific captive-breeding program for elephants. The free movement of the herd enhanced the chances for respective individuals of both sexes to get together and mate. The nearby river, named Ma Oya, played a dominant role in this regard and in 1984 the first baby elephant, named Sukumaliee was born at Pinnawala.


“Ayurveda” is not only a form of medication – it is a total way of life know to generations of Sri Lankans for over 3000 years. It is a gentle method of treating the root causes of illness in both mind and body.

Ayurveda Medicine is widely used in Sri Lanka for a variety of ailments. Pronounced eye-yer-veda, this ancient medicine is directly translated as the ‘science of life’. It uses herbs, oils, metals and animal products to restore the equilibrium of the individual’s dosha, or ‘life force’. Ayurveda postulates that disease and illness occur when the individual life force is out of balance.

There are many Ayurvedic treatments around Sri Lanka. Many are not established practices and the practitioner is often unqualified. However there are many reputable practices where the practitioners are trained to degree level in Ayurvedic practice. The Lonely Planet travel guide lists a selection of trustworthy establishments. Treatment involves oil massage and herbal baths and can take some time and several treatments to have full effect.

Sri Lankans will tell you, "It is a gentle and relaxed treatment for both mind and body, one that leaves you feeling light, tranquil, yet filled with the zest and energy that our ancestors experienced and benefited from."


The beauty of Sri Lanka is its diversity. Amongst her dynamic scenery are many temples, ancient cities and fascinating cultural heritage. The most impressive lie in Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’ where you can visit Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Sigiriya.

For over 1000 years the palaces of Anuradhapura were the ruling ground for the Kings of Sri Lanka. It was the most important of the ancient cities, yet due to the length of time passed since its downfall this can be difficult to comprehend for today’s visitor. Today the city is a pleasant place to visit, with shady trees, nice guesthouses and a distinct lack of overdeveloped concrete.

Dambulla is famous for its cave temples where legend has it King Valagambahu took refuge in the 1st century BC and had the caves carved into magnificent temples and statues of Buddha. Large paintings of a reclining Buddha decorate the interior of the caves and make quite a sight.

There is a climb to the caves that sit atop a hillside, and stunning views spread out over the Sri Lankan countryside. You can see the marvellous silhouette of Sigiriya also from this vantage. Monkeys run wild around the caves, screeching to one another and perching precariously on ledges and tree tops gazing out at the view. Watch out for them, they are not shy and they will stroppily snatch anything off you that they may like for themselves, particularly food!

This magnificent rock fortress is one of Sri Lanka’s top tourist attractions. One legend holds that the son of King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura, Kasyapa who was overthrown in 477 prepared the rock fort as he expected an invasion.

The invasion never occurred and Sigiriya later become a monastic refuse in the 16th and 17th centuries. It later fell into disrepair. It is an archaeologist’s dream with remaining evidence of engineering, urban planning, hydraulic technology, gardening and art.

White Water Rafting:
Sri Lanka’s boulder stream rivers are the ideal setting for white water rafting. This is the best way to see the stunning environment what this region has to offer. Many tours are available and many begin with days of action, rafting the white waters. This high adventure is suitable for fish time ‘go for it’ rafters and experts alike.  Rafting has become a very popular exciting yet safe adventure sport option.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering: Mountaineering is an adventure sport that requires skills and levels of fitness that few other adventure sports can match. The mountain ranges in Sri Lanka offer breath taking, enthralling, climbing routes. Climbing is all about discovering the natural world around and with you.

Hiking and Trekking: There’s no better way to explore the natural scenic beauty of this island with diverse climatic zones. Trekking is an excellent way to explore a country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Paths and campsites have been set up to give nature lovers the experience of a lifetime. All possible steps are taken to ensure local community benefit and nature conservation in keeping with all international camping guidelines.

Canoeing & Kayaking: This relatively new sport is rated as the most adventurous of all adventure sports. It involves descending a stream as it drops over waterfalls and boulders. In Sri Lanka they have low waterfalls for beginners and some as high as 700 feet for the very experienced - all surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

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Banking hours: 0900 hrs. to 1500 hrs., Mon-Fri.
Credit Cards: All the major credit and charge cards are widely accepted.
Currency: One Sri Lanka Rupee is made up of 100 cents.


Voltage : 230 – 240 volts 50 Cycles A.C.
Food: Many races have contributed to Sri Lanka's culinary diversity - Indians, Arabs, Portuguese,  Dutch, British  Malays, Chinese  ..... as you can imagine the range of foods is immense! 
Public Holidays & Celebrations: Sri Lanka probably has more vacations than almost anywhere else in the world – Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and national festivals are celebrated. Every full moon day or ‘Poya Day’ is also a Buddhist vacation. On these days all public places of entertainment are closed.
Time Difference: Sri Lanka is 5 hrs. ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
What to Wear: All-year-round wear should be light cotton, drip-dry dresses and light-weight suits, Comfortable shoes or sandals, a wide-brimmed beach hat and sun glasses.  However, in the hill country temperatures can drop to as low as 10’C - so take some jumpers with you.

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"I'd just like to say that the Travellers teaching placement in Sri Lanka was brilliant, couldn't fault it at all. Doing the placement was the best decision I ever made, it was absolutely fantastic and I was pretty sad when I finished. Met some really nice people too." Gemma Leonard

Before you leave on your placement with Travellers, we send you LOTS of information about your placement and about the country itself, with travel tips, useful info on the culture, money, banking hours, transport, where to go an what to see.