Volunteer in Sri Lanka


See Project Location

As one of Asia’s most under-appreciated nations, Sri Lanka has so much to offer to the intrepid tourist: from the Temple of the Tooth to the imposing Adams Peak, this South-Asian destination has an intriguing history and natural sights to leave visitors spellbound. One of the country’s top qualities, however, is its abundance of animals – which is why a volunteer project in Sri Lanka could be the best way to explore the so-called ‘Emerald Isle’.

Marco Polo once said that Sri Lanka is the ‘best island of its size in the world’, and this is something that many others would attest to. At just 65,610km2, the country is home to an impressive number of beaches, cultural sights and even national parks. In fact, some 13% of the nation’s land surface has been dedicated as Wildlife Protected Areas, 7% of which stands as national parks. By joining a volunteer program in Sri Lanka, you will be joining a burgeoning number of tourists who choose to appreciate the country’s supreme natural beauty. But what kind of volunteer experience could be for you?

Here at The Great Projects, we are proud to offer eco-tourism opportunities around the world, and by volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka, you’ll have the chance to work with creatures great and small. On The Great Turtle Project, you will experience life as a marine volunteer at one of Sri Lanka’s wildlife sanctuaries, working specifically with species such as green, olive ridley, loggerhead and hawksbill. Care for the turtles at the sanctuary by aiding efforts in their hatcheries before (when possible) releasing the animals back into the wild. Alternatively, you can head to one of our best-loved conservation projects, The Great Elephant Project, which is situated on the outskirts of Wasgamuwa National Park. Witness this gentle giant in its natural home, learning how to aid elephant conservation efforts and work with the local community to lessen the impact of human-animal conflict. By becoming an animal volunteer in Sri Lanka, you will play a part in protecting the nation’s most beloved and at-risk creatures – so why not get involved today?

Projects Do More

Wildlife

Did you know that Sri Lanka is actually one of the top biodiversity hotspots on earth? As well as boasting a fantastical array of species, the country also has one of the highest rates of biological endemism known to man: 16% of fauna and 23% of flowering plants are found here and here only, giving the nation much to brag about.

By joining a conservation project in Sri Lanka, you are guaranteed to see at least some of what this amazing country has to offer, but keep your eyes peeled for exciting species such as:

  • The purple-faced langur
  • The toque macaque
  • The golden palm civet
  • The crimson-fronted barbet

Each of the above species is endemic to Sri Lanka, and wildlife conservation remains incredibly important if we wish to see these species continue to survive. By joining an ethical, eco-conscious project in Sri Lanka, you will have the opportunity to observe certain species (just as elephant, turtle, birds and more) in a manner which will not impact them negatively. If you wish to help preserve these species for generations to come, then join a project today!

Culture

Sri Lanka’s culture is vast and vibrant and is famed for its diversity. The country has undergone a global influence, with elements such as religion (Buddhism) and cuisine taking inspiration from India, Indonesia, and even the Netherlands. That said, the country has a flair that is all its own – so why not check out the best of Sri Lanka’s culture below?

  • Festivals and holidays – the Sinhalese make up the majority of Sri Lanka’s population (standing at around 74.9%), so it’s no surprise that some of the biggest celebrations throughout the country are held by this part of the populous! The Sinhalese New Year, for example, is one of the country’s biggest cultural events, taking place in April and consisting of numerous rituals such as cleaning the house/your clothes and lighting oil lamps in the home. Congregations may gather to play drums as the clock ticks by into the new year, and communities dig in to a number of traditional treats such as Koki or Konda Kavum!
  • Cuisine – a couple of traditional Sri Lankan dishes were mentioned above: Konda Kavum, for example, is a delicious sweet made from rice flour and treacle, and has seemingly been around since the beginning of time! Elsewhere, curry dishes are incredibly popular throughout the country, taking some inspiration from India but retaining a local flair. One of the most delicious dishes is a simple Dhal curry, made from lentils and cooked from coconut milk before being padded out with vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and fresh chillies. Give it a go – it’s divine!
  • Sport – it may surprise you that sport is one of the most vital parts of Sri Lankan culture, with cricket being the most popular sport of all. Cricket fields can be found scattered around the country and, in the event of an important match, it’s not uncommon for businesses to shut down to allow their staff to watch the event on television. The biggest instance of Sri Lankans taking sport seriously was in 1996, when the national team beat Australia to obtain the Cricket World Cup – the whole country was shut down in light of the event, so if you want to sight-see, try to avoid sport season!

Popular Sights

Just because you’re looking to join a project abroad in Sri Lanka, doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all that makes this country so very special! Take a break away from your volunteer experience to see some of the top tourist sights or, if you’d prefer, book-end your trip with a tour of some must-see spots. Our suggestions of the top things to do or see in Sri Lanka are as follows:

  • Temple of the Tooth – in itself, the city of Kandy is a melting-pot of culture, sights and sounds, but one of the most popular attractions is the legendary Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. As its name might suggest, the temple is home to a specific part of the human anatomy: the tooth of the Buddha, in fact! Visit during the evening to enjoy ‘puja’, where followers gather to offer flowers and prayers. As well as the main temple, the complex is home to a number of smaller temples, shrines and museums, so take the time to learn about Sri Lanka’s revered religion.
  • Galle – as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the historic city of Galle is best explored on foot. This ancient town once stood as a trading port and is home to a variety of mansions, mosques, Dutch-colonial buildings and quirky boutiques. Take a walk down a rambling alley and see what you’ll discover!
  • Jaffna – visit the home of Hindu temples, vibrant lagoons and serene beaches while learning all about Sri Lanka’s Tamil culture, including a troubled history and Jaffna’s rise from the ashes. Of all the cities in Sri Lanka, Jaffna is one which allows tourists to explore without feeling overwhelmed, so consider adding an excursion here to your itinerary!
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Foreign Office Travel Advice