Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka for families
Make your family’s dream of working with elephants a reality in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Not only will you and your family be living far off the beaten track in a place resembling paradise, but you will be making a genuine contribution to protecting elephants and helping communities.
Dates: This project runs throughout the year. Arrival day to Colombo is a Sunday. The duration is 2 weeks.
Suitability: You know your children best, but we would suggest a minimum age of 10 for this project. You will need to be happy to get stuck in and mucky, prepared for some basic living and be open to a very different experience.
On your family adventure you’ll be joining a multiple award-winning charity in their quest to encourage the survival of elephants living in the wild. In the last century alone, wild elephant populations in Sri Lanka have plummeted from 20,000 to just 5,000. Working with local conservationists, you will all become an important part of a research and protection mission. In addition to making a genuine contribution, you will have the privilege of witnessing elephants in the wild, knowing that all you are doing is to preserve and protect them within their environment.
Each day you will be out and about working in the elephant’s natural habitat. You will be getting very hands on with the research, observation and preservation of these remarkable creatures in an effort to protect them for future generations. Children and adults alike can get fully involved in this and make a full contribution. Much of research involves walking through the jungle and grasslands, meeting local people and monitoring elephant activity for extended periods of time. Because of this, we suggest a minimum of 10 years old for this project.
What will we be doing?
Your days tend to start early to “cheat the heat”. You will then get involved in a project for a few hours in the morning, before a good lunch and siesta in the early afternoon. The afternoon shift then starts again until the early evening- although to be prepared to be flexible! Each day will be varied and exciting, touching upon a variety of tasks:
- Monitoring the elephants and other wildlife in the area (keep an eye out for the elusive leopard!)
- Following the elephants’ grazing trail on foot through the hills and jungles
- Identifying the elephants in the area and photographing them
- Monitoring elephant activity from a tree house
- Becoming involved in the local community with environmental education and games
- Conducting mammal and bird surveys
- Meeting local residents and learning more about their way of life
Where will we be based?
The area in which you will be working is absolutely stunning. The project site is located about 2 – 3 hours northwest of the cultural capital, Kandy. It is on the outskirts of the Wasgamuwa National Park, home to almost 200 elephants alone.
As part of the project you will be trekking through jungles, valleys and wetlands to get to know intimately the lives of the elephants. You will come into contact with the friendly locals, swim in beautiful lakes and encounter some lush scenery. There is certainly no time to get bored here, and even a day off can involve relaxing, walking and swimming.
Accommodation and food
You will be sharing a family room at the volunteer house, located close to the edge of the Wasgamuwa National Park. The house is located just outside a small village and overlooks a lake, with the backdrop of a stunning mountain range just behind it.
The volunteer house is basic yet comfortable. Please be prepared for rustic living, however there are western toilets and showers heated by the sun. This is an attractive and relaxing base from which your adventures will take place.
Meals are provided and are an excellent introduction to Sri Lankan food. Prepare for lots of delicious curries, rice and fruits. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Make a genuine contribution an award-winning elephant conservation project with your family.
- Witness the natural behaviour of elephant herds in the wild, as you get fully involved in important monitoring and observation research.
- Become part of community education projects and get to know the local people.
- Live in the beautiful Sri Lankan wilderness, far off the beaten tourist track.
- Enjoy famed Sri Lankan hospitality and taste their delicious cuisine.
Whyshould I do this?
This project is a great way of experiencing life off the beaten track in Sri Lanka. Not only will you be contributing to a very worthwhile cause, but you will come away with an understanding of animal welfare and conservation. You will learn about the threat that faces elephants in developing countries and about the amazing people who are working hard to protect them. Not only this, you will come home having experienced amazing Sri Lankan food and hospitality!
You should arrive in Colombo (CMB) on a Sunday. You will be collected from the airport and transferred a hotel just outside the centre of Colombo.
It is an early start the next day for your transfer to the project- expect to see lots of jungle! The transfer is in two parts. You will firstly get the train from Colombo to Kandy, and then a bus transfer from Kandy to the project site. The second part can be tiring for children, so we can arrange a private car to collect you all from Kandy and take you to the project site for £60.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-arranged airport pick up
- First night accommodation in Colombo
- Transfer from Colombo to the project site on public transport
- Return transfer from the project site back to Kandy train station on public transport (train ticket from Kandy to Colombo not included)
- Private transfer if required (at your own expense)
- Family accommodation at the project site
- Meals and soft drinks
- Full training and all project costs
- Orientation and briefings
- Donation to the project
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and placement advice
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Advice on visa and health requirements for project
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there
- Local support in Sri Lanka from English speaking staff
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry to Sri Lanka
- Travel insurance
- Flights – these can be organised by Oyster which gives you ATOL protection
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Meals when not at the project site
- Train transfer from Colombo to Kandy and bus transfer from Kandy to project included as standard. If you would like a private transfer from Kandy to the project site, this costs £60 return.
- Onward travel and accommodation from Kandy train station after your project is completed
- Money for meals on your arrival day
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks,entertainment (allow maybe £25 per person per week depending on lifestyle).
- Visa (we can advise on how to get this)
- The completion of a medical questionnaire, as safety is a priority.
- No compulsory inoculations are necessary, although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date.