Take part in the Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka as a turtle volunteer and have a hand in the conservation of the country's beautiful sea turtles
The overall aim of this sea turtle conservation project is to monitor sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting sites in the Kosgoda region of Sri Lanka. Work with turtles here is carried out by staff and volunteers and it has been hugely successful since the project's inception in 1988.
One of the most important activities undertaken by volunteers at the project is the maintenance of its hatchery. Within the sanctuary of the specially constructed hatchery, collected and rescued eggs can hatch safely away from predators, before being released into the sea at night-time. In order to teach locals and tourists about turtles and to protect their future existence by doing so, a small number from each hatching group are kept back for a short period, and this also enables a 'head-starting' programme before release. The hatchery program is designed to maximise the number of hatchlings reaching the sea and surviving through the critical stages of their early life. Sadly, very few from each batch will ever make it to adulthood naturally, and turtles are only able to reproduce from the age of 25.
For this exact reason, every nest-ground, every egg, every hatchling and every turtle is crucial to the survival of the species, and maximising survival is what the staff and volunteers at the project strive to achieve.
The hugely praise-worthy achievements of this project are largely due to the continued support it receives from teams of volunteers. The turtle conservation work relies upon the involvement of truly dedicated people, and you, like every turtle volunteer, can help play an integral role here.
On this project you will be essential in the daily care and preservation of the turtles. Working with turtles here (green, olive ridley, loggerhead and hawksbill) will incorporate you into a wide range of tasks, including:
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
By far the most dangerous predators of turtles are humans as turtles and their eggs are valuable commodities. Hundreds of thousands of eggs are stolen from beaches here every year, and shells are used for ornamental purposes such as hair slides and combs - its rarity ensures high demand. In Sri Lanka, where poverty is widespread, sea turtle nests and turtles themselves are robbed of their eggs and shells by poachers for sale on the black market.
The overall aim of the sea turtle conservation project is to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting-sites. Making the public aware of the turtle's precarious position in terms of endangerment is essential in the fight to protect them. If local people learn of the turtles as an essential part in their ecosystem, it is hoped that they will eventually cease to be seen as simply a money-making opportunity.
So far since 1988, the Great Turtle Project has released over 94,000 hatchlings of the hawksbill, green, loggerhead and olive ridley species, and staff are entirely dedicated to keeping this number rising.
Did you know that the 23rd of May is World Turtle Day? Find out how you can aid the conservation of these marvelous marine creatures by reading on.
We recently spoke to Sandra, a volunteer on The Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka, to learn about her experience. See what she thought of her time away!
The accommodation on this project is a volunteer house on the project site. The rooms you will be staying in are basic but clean and are based on twin or triple rooms. The accommodation also includes modern toilets, showers and running water.
Whilst on site you will be provided with three meals a day and bottled water served by the house keeper in the volunteer house. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, bread and jams and eggs, lunch can be chosen from a menu containing items such as BLT, soup, omelette and dinner will typically consist of Sri Lankan dishes like curry (fish or chicken) and rice, vegetable dishes served buffet style.
This project does not involve much in the way of physical labour, but you will usually be working in fairly humid conditions. Therefore, you should have a basic level of fitness to take part. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. However, you must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Due to the seasonality of turtle nesting and hatching this project definitely has a preferred time, however, there are turtles at the sanctuary all year round.
Nesting season is usually from November to April and as they take 7 weeks to hatch, hatching season is typically from January until June. Peak hatching season is between February to April, which means this is the most popular time to visit the project.
If you're ideally looking to travel between August and December, you may want to check out our Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Experience as an alternative.
You will need to arrive into Colombo International airport between 9am - 5pm on the start date of your project, where you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the project site, roughly three hours' drive away.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
All travellers to Sri Lanka WILL need a visa to enter the country. Short stay visas of thirty days can be obtained online via the Electronic Travel Authority found here. These can be extended for up to three months once in Sri Lanka from the Department of Immigration & Emigration. However, it is advisable to contact the Sri Lankan High Commission in your country of origin at least one month before travel. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months before travel.
The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). The exchange rate is around 1 LKR = 0.004 GBP, 0.007 USD, 0.005 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.
Nikita & team.
My favourite memory was the beautiful sunsets and the endless ocean. It is a great home for the turtles. Many thanks to VJ and his three trusted staff Dudley and his wonderful family for their hospitality (nice food) and patience.
eve chen, 2016
My favourite moments would have to be the evenings with the group. I would not have been able to complete the project without the support from fellow travellers! We saw the most spectacular sun sets whilst releasing up to 100 baby turtles into the big wide ocean! Perfect.
Moira Davies, 2016
I will never forget the first time I set a batch of hatchlings free. I remember picking up the little baby turtles, one by one, and placing them on the sandy beach. I remember the awe and love I felt when I watched them paddle along the sand towards the ocean - their future. I got really emotional. It was like I was sending my kids off to college or something. I stayed at the beach for the longest time afterwards, making sure none of them got swept up on the shore and hoping that all the little turtles would make it. I was so full of happiness and hope. I will never forget it.
Cathy Chen, 2016
My favourite memory was the Baby Turtles!! One day we had over 200 hatch and that evening released over 180. it was just so good to see so many racing off to start their big adventure.
maria heath, 2016
It is an amazing experience and every week you will do something that will take your breath away. Working with turtles is incredible it will be one of the most amazing things you will ever do!
james matthews, 2016
Within a time span of 24 hours, the lovely group of volunteers spent the night at the beach watching over a huge mother turtle laying 100 eggs, released newborn hatchlings into the Indian Ocean, ánd watched newborn turtles emerge from the sand in the hatchery! It was absolutely overwhelming!