AN ELEPHANT EXPERIENCE AT PINNAWALA
ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE Volunteering, Gap Year or
Career Break in Sri Lanka
The Elephant Orphanage is a sanctuary
for over 80 retired, abused or orphaned elephants. Visitors from all
over the world come to see these magnificent animals. At times,
there are also some small babies who have been born into the herd.
The daily highlight is the walk from
the Orphanage to take the herd 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!
"This project is fabulous and if you love elephants, like me - book.
Seriously, BOOK NOW!"
1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
All year round - you
choose your start and finish dates.
No qualifications needed, just lots of
enthusiasm, initiative and ideas, and the ability to be very
proactive. Minimum age 18.
►Full pre-departure support and assistance,
►Payment Protection insurance
►Meeting you at Colombo airport
►Transfer to your accommodation
►Transport to and from your project
►Local in-country team support and backup
►24-hr emergency support.
►Return transfer to airport.
►Certificate of Completion
What's not included
Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required)
Who can do
This project is open to all nationalities and all ages
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out,
grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in
caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
Suitable if you want to learn about elephants, projects
abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or a short break
WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:
An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and the
fascinating culture of Sri Lanka
The satisfaction of helping
captive animals and
knowing that your efforts made a difference to them.
New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding
of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional
An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head
and shoulders above most others in the job market.
And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
wanted to end this year by thanking you, and all at Travellers,
for making this year so special. As you know, my passion for elephants runs
very deep and has done for as long as I can
remember, and you were able to help me make my lifelong dream come true, and
for that I am so eternally grateful." Travellers Volunteer, Jo 'The Elephant Lady' Harris
"I've been so
wrapped up in baby elephants that I haven’t been on the internet
at all! My stay so far has been really fantastic, all the staff
are lovely ... I’m feeling so blessed and thankful for your
organisation, as it has given me one of the best experiences of my
life. I would especially like to say how wonderful Nerangela has
been throughout this entire trip. She really is lovely, and so
knowledgeable about the area."
You'll have about
3 to 4 hours manual work each day at the Orphanage, which is hot
and dirty work, mainly,mucking out huge Carport type sheds where
Elephants stay at night. You'll also get to wash and hose down
several Elephants. In the late morning or afternoon, you'll
usually go down to the river and spend about 3 hours amongst the
Elephants. You can watch them relaxing, play with them and
sometimes help to bathe them.
A couple of little tips from a
previous participant for anyone wishing to do this extraordinary
"1) When washing an elephant
that is lying down in the water, watch out for their trunk as
they like to tickle your feet when you're not looking!
2) When sitting at the river
edge: My favourite Elephant, Saboo, is very loveable and likes
to stand with you. She loves to be tickled and stroked. Make
sure you tickle the roof of her mouth - she LOVES this!
You will see some amazing
sights here as Elephants really are clever and each have amazing
characters and traits. A few funny things I saw were an elephant
trying his best to balance a log on this head, the little ones
play fighting by nudging each other off the rocks they were
trying to balance on, the little ones also playfully charging at
one another, the females chasing a very handsome looking male
elephant, not to mention the sight of them all putting their
trunks in the air and rumbling, trumpeting and even squeaking!
I would also like to add how
amazing the Sri Lankan staff are that lived with us in the
house, nothing was too much. They helped us plan our weekend
trips, cooked us amazing traditional Sri Lankan food and
generally took care of us the whole time. I feel truly blessed
to of lived with them and the other fantastic volunteers that I
shared the experience with." Sarah Ellie
This can be a life-changing experience, as the Elephants are
very family orientated and the young ones love fun.If you love
animals and don't mind some hard work for some wonderful
memories, we highly recommend this project.
Working hours are quite short and you certainly won't be
overloaded with work, so you'll have plenty of time to sightsee
and explore. Some elephants are overly large or have not
been tamed or trained to a satisfactory level, whereby it is
possible to safely have full hands-on contact.
The majority of
volunteer work deals more with the day-to-day aspects of running
the orphanage, rather than more specialised research or
veterinary based work, although you will have the opportunity to
do some hands-on work
main duties will be:
Mucking out the elephant enclosures in
the morning (this is hard, muddy work!)
Participating in bathing some of the
While the mahouts are bathing the larger
elephants, you will be able to relax by the river, chat to
the mahouts and watch the elephants play and interact with
humans and each other. This is an absolutely beautiful sight
and being around these serene animals in such a beautiful
setting can have a very calming effect!
You'll also have up to two opportunities per week to
feed the beautiful baby elephants
There may also be
the opportunity to do other things around the orphanage, however
this is subject the amount of work available at the orphanage at
the time of your project
ABOUT PINNAWALA ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE
The 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.
Elephants are orphaned for a
number of reasons. Habitat destruction and fragmentation is one
of the main causes resulting from irrigation projects,
development of industries, agricultural projects and human
encroachment. Elephants have lost over 30% of their natural wild
Other reasons for elephants
becoming orphaned include hunting for tusks (although there is
little of this in Sri Lanka compared to other countries around
the globe), humans catching wild elephants for taming and
domesticating and lastly due to the Human - Elephant conflict,
which is rife in Sri Lanka. This occurs when elephants encroach
on farm land to find food. The result is that 150-200 elephants
are killed a year and around 60 people die.
The Pinnawala Elephant
Orphanage helps this Human-Elephant conflict by giving
the orphaned elephants a wonderfully happy and healthy life, including
allowing for natural social behaviour, good medical treatment and food
is reputedly one of the largest
centres of its kind in the world, with one of the most successful captive
breeding programmes for Asian elephants.
"I have walked with the elephants, fed babies, cleaned
up after them, had an afternoon with the vet to talk about elephants. I have
been to heaven and back. I have watched them play and scratch, watched a
baby get to grips with her trunk, it was hard work but when she finally
picked up the twig she gave the biggest squeal of delight and went to show
I am the luckiest lady in the world to have been given the
opportunity of living a life’s dream. It was more than I could have imagined
and has changed my life completely. I will be going back to Sri Lanka next
year, I have left my heart over there and need to go back to pick it up.”
ABOUT KEGALLE During the day Kegalle bustles with people and street markets. The evenings
are quiet with the Sri Lankan culture favouring early mornings and early
nights. There are always a few volunteers on this placement
together, so there is a very sociable atmosphere in the house. However,
do keep the quietness in mind and be prepared for slow-paced
Climate: In the lowlands the climate is typically
tropical with an average temperature of 27OC in Colombo. In
the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16OC
at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. Bright, sunny warm days are the rule
and are common even during the height of the monsoon - climatically Sri
Lanka has no off-season.
Watch Graham Jenkins washing an element and hear what he has to say
about his placement at the Elephant Orphanage
Waiting to take the elephants back after their trip to the
river to bathe
You'll live in a
quaint bungalow in a residential area surround by lush Sri
Lankan landscape in the Gampaha region. The bungalow is airy and
is typical of the modern styling of Sri Lankan houses. The
bungalow can comfortably accommodate more than 6 volunteers,
whilst still allowing you to keep a sense of having your own
space. The bungalow has living and dining area and plenty of
outdoor areas, including a garden, making it the perfect setting
for sociable evenings with the other volunteers or reading a
book in peace in tropical surroundings.
Volunteer Coordinator, Niranjala, lives in a separate close by,
with her family. Many of our past volunteers who have stayed
there have commented that the place offer the opportunity to get
fully immersed in the wonders of Sri Lankan culture. Niranjala
is a very chatty and extremely friendly and always gets the
volunteers involved in her lively community activities.
You will have all
necessary facilities such a comfortably furnished living area
with TV and DVD player in the lounge area. Sri Lanka is a great
place to buy DVD’s.
You will likely
share your room with one or more other volunteers. The bedrooms
are basic but comfortable. Bedrooms normally have single beds,
mosquito nets, a clothes rack, and a ceiling fan (some rooms
have standing ‘pedestal’ fans only). Bedding in Sri Lanka is
very basic and for some reason sheets never seem to be large
enough to tuck in, so you may want to consider bringing your own
bed linen with you (sheet/pillowcase).
Although we supply
bed linen, towels aren't provided! You can either bring your own
with you or buy one from a local shop. A tip about washing your
clothes – Sri Lanka has a red dust which gets into everything –
with your white washing being most at risk – you have been
shower, sink and western toilet. The showers are cold water
showers here I’m afraid – it can be quite refreshing first thing
in the morning before the water tank has been warmed by the sun
- although with the climate being predominantly hot and humid
for most of the year, taking a shower can be great way to cool
off after a day spent in the Sri Lankan sun.
just wanted to let you know, that 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."
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll
contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on
details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have
access to all the documentation and information which we've put
together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your
Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you
throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on
your placement and on your return home.
The documents you'll have access to also include a Country
Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on
your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment
Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we
can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.
As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is
different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the
most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in
Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in
all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this
On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our Sri
Lankan staff who
will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn
about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how
to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.
You will have weekends free and this will also allow some time for travelling
and sight seeing.
While on your placements, you can also book some Optional
Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.
project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Sri Lanka, or
you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus
doubling your adventure and enjoyment!
wanted to drop you a line as my project in Sri
Lanka comes to an end to tell you that I have had the best time of my life. The project has been amazing,
both the teaching and the elephant orphanage. It
has been a truly amazing experience."David Constable
LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:
cannot BEGIN to tell you how beautiful this paradise island is!
Nor how cheap to live and get around. It is almost
too good to be true! But it is true.
Towering Pagodas, Hindu temples and ancient fortresses to holy
rivers and sacred mountains.The
local people are very welcoming and friendly, especially in the
rural areas. The tea plantations are a must, the lace making,
monuments and architectural splendours, etc., but the most appealing is the Elephant
Orphanage at Pinnawala. Not to be
missed! It's an
emotive sight that you'll never forget!
SRI LANKA'S FANTASTIC BEACHES!
Sri Lanka has miles and
miles of amazing beaches. Some of our favourites are:
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 sunset over this horizon…The snorkelling is
also incredible here.
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 holiday 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.
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"
ADRENALIN JAUNTS: 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
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.
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.
TRAVEL: To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you
arrive in your new country, please
Support & Backup:
To read about the excellentSupport
& Backup we provide before you leave and during
please click here.
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