Overview

Elephants, while majestic and beautiful, are seen by many Sri Lankans as a nuisance because of their destructive effects on farm land. This causes some farmers to hurt or kill elephants in order to protect their livelihood. With Greenheart Travel’s conservation program, you will work to save elephants and villagers’ livelihoods by helping to resolve human-elephant conflicts in Wasgamuwa National Park.

We are committed to developing a sustainable model for wildlife conservation through an inclusive conservation strategy that gives consideration to all of the key stakeholders. You will work alongside the scientists and conservationists to save Sri Lanka’s unique biodiversity while helping local communities to benefit from these efforts.

Get a glimpse into why this program needs you!

How You Will Make a Difference:

During the volunteer program, you will make a direct impact in the lives of people and wildlife by doing activities such as:

  • Participate in daily ecological research on elephants
  • Observe and assess human-elephant interactions and conflicts
  • Conduct local biodiversity surveys
  • Work with local communities to teach environmental awareness & sustainability
  • Help to monitor and evaluate innovative landscape management systems
  • Identify rural livelihoods that adversely impact the environment and develop alternative livelihoods solutions

What do our past participants say about the program?

Volunteering in Sri Lanka was in every way an amazing experience. The location is beautiful and you really have the opportunity to be immersed in the culture. The staff on the project was incredible. They were friendly, caring and they had a great sense of humor. There’s not a single bad thing I have to say about my time in Sri Lanka. It was a total life changing experience and a lot of what I learned I will always carry with me. All I can say is how grateful I am that I could have this experience.” — Shannon Elder, Greenheart Travel Sri Lanka Volunteer Alumna

2017 Give Back Award Nominee: Vote here for the Sri Lanka Project!

 

Program Dates

The minimum stay for this program is 1 week. You should plan to arrive on the Sunday prior to the Monday start date. Participants can choose the program length between 1-12 weeks. If you are unable to start on these given dates, please contact Greenheart Travel directly.

Program Start Date Deadline to Apply 
February 6, 2017 January 6, 2017
February 20, 2017 January 20, 2017
March 6, 2017 February 6, 2017
March 13, 2017 February 13, 2017
March 20, 2017 February 20, 2017
March 27, 2017 February 27, 2017
April 3, 2017 March 3, 2017
April 10, 2017 March 10, 2017
April 17, 2017 March 17, 2017
April 24, 2017 March 24, 2017
May 1, 2017 April 1, 2017
May 8, 2017 April 8, 2017
May 15, 2017 April 15, 2017
May 22, 2017 April 22, 2017
May 29, 2017 April 29, 2017
June 5, 2017 May 6, 2017
June 12, 2017 May 13, 2017
June 19, 2017 May 20, 2017
June 26, 2017 May 27, 2017
July 3, 2017 June 3, 2017
July 10, 2017 June 10, 2017
July 17, 2017 June 17, 2017
July 24, 2017 June 24, 2017
July 31, 2017 July 1, 2017
August 7, 2017 July 8, 2017
August 14, 2017 July 15, 2017
August 21, 2017 July 22, 2017
August 28, 2017 July 29, 2017

Costs

Program Fees

  • 1 week: $1,390
  • 2 weeks: $1,460
  • 3 weeks: $1,800
  • 4 weeks: $1,910
  • 6 weeks: $2,170
  • 8 weeks: $2,580
  • 10 weeks: $2,960
  • 12 weeks: $3,230

Please note, all prices are listed in USD

What’s Included:

  • Full accommodation in gender-based shared room
  • 3 prepared meals a day for duration of the program
  • Daily onsite transportation in Land Rover 4WD vehicles
  • Arrival hotel and airport transfer for first night’s stay in Colombo (Airport of arrival is Colombo)
  • Arrival transport from Colombo to project site
  • Departure transport to Colombo at the end of program
  • On-site orientation & training:
  • 24/7 on-site staff support and training
  • Medical/Accident insurance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation

What’s Not Included:

  • Flight to Sri Lanka
  • Visa to Sri Lanka
  • Spending money for personal purchases or activities
  • Departure airport transfer

Accommodation

inside the field houseVolunteers stay at a rustic volunteer field house which can accommodate up to 18 volunteers. It is only 15 minutes from the entrance to the program work site. You may share a room with other participants, but you will be separated by gender. At the field house, there are

  • Four modern bathrooms
  • Four basic bedrooms
  • Electric fans
  • Mosquito bets
  • Pillows
  • Clean bed sheets

There is only cold water and you should plan to bring their own towel. Want to know what the day-to-day life is like while volunteering on this program? Read Shannon Schroeder’s blog about her experience in Sri Lanka.

 

FAQs

What is Sri Lanka like?

Lots of people are not familiar with this tiny Southeast Asian country, but don’t worry! We’ve answered a bunch of your frequently asked questions below, as well as a blog post about Sri Lanka to help you learn more about this amazing country. Sri Lanka is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of India. Known as Ceylon until 1972, Sri Lanka has a very rich and interesting history spanning over 3,000 years. Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to over 20 million people from many religions, ethnicities and languages. Approximately 70% of people are Buddhist, but there are also many Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Sri Lankan culture is very family orientated and people often live in large households. The most popular sport in Sri Lanka is cricket.

 Is Sri Lanka safe?

Yes, Sri Lanka is safe. As with many destinations, tourists are magnets for pick pocketers, so be sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Streets are often narrow and filled with people, vehicles, and sometimes animals which can be distracting. Also, know how much money is on you and when buying items at souvenir shops, make sure you get correct change back.

Will there be a language barrier?

There are many unique dialects and languages that vary by region in Sri Lanka. Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of the Sri Lanka, but English is commonly known and will get you by in many situations.

What is the climate like?

The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Temperatures range from 60 °F in the central highlands to a maximum of 95 °F in low-altitude areas. Rainfall is common throughout the year in the central highlands.

Can I apply with my friend/spouse/significant other?

Absolutely! We are happy to accept friends and couples.

Is my program fee tax deductible?

Greenheart Travel is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, so a portion of your Volunteer Abroad program fee may be tax deductible. Contact us for more information. We recommend that you also consult with your tax professional to discuss your particular case, as application of tax laws can vary based on individual circumstances.

What vaccinations will I need?

When traveling to any destination, make sure your routine vaccines are up to date. Try to schedule an appointment with your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) also highly recommends the Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and up to date polio vaccinations due to potentially contaminated food or water.

How much extra cash should I bring?

We suggest planning a budget that gives you room for souvenirs, sightseeing, extra snacks, transportation not included in the fee, excursions before or after your program, and/or to cover any costs you might forget. You can read up more on the currency exchange website to determine how much you will need.

What is often the most difficult aspect of volunteering?

You will be in a situation in which the communities who you are helping live in extreme poverty, and although this is sometimes hard to adapt to, the people very much appreciate that you have made an effort to help them. Homesickness often arises when people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings, but try to remain calm and remember that you are doing a very important thing for your life and the lives of the people you affect while volunteering.

Is the water safe to drink?

The onsite accommodation will provide you with safe and filtered drinking water. If you leave the site, most of Sri Lanka’s water is not safe to drink, and we recommend that travelers should stick to bottled water. Restaurants may sometimes offer treated drinking water, but it’s safer to stick with bottled.

What if I have an allergy/specific dietary requirement?

We can cater to vegetarian or vegan needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed with us to see if we can arrange to have your needs met. In some cases you may need to provide your own food.

What is the best way to contact friends/family from home?

You will have access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so you can keep in touch with family and friends. There is mobile phone coverage (cell phone with local service) at the field house. Participants typically use calling cards or you can get a local prepaid SIM for your unlocked phone to keep in touch. Local phones can be purchased at the airport for as little as $25. Internet and WiFi is available at the project house but service can be intermittent. There are additional charges for using these facilities.

Application Process

ELIGIBILITY 

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Consent to criminal background check (Greenheart Travel will process this for you)
  • Be willing to engage in manual labor
  • Good physical fitness for outdoor work in a tropical climate
  • No previous wildlife skills required

Complete the Online Application

 There are 4 short steps in the application process, which are outlined below. The whole process takes about 30 minutes and can be done in stages.

  1. Select the APPLY NOW button to the left. You will fill out the first portion of the application, which includes general information about you.
  2. Once you complete part 1, you will be emailed a link to fill out Greenheart Travel’s Terms and conditions. Follow the link and you will read through and sign our policies.
  3. In part three, you will pay a $250 deposit to hold your position in the programs. It is very rare that our volunteer applications are declined, but if you are rejected from the program, you will be refunded the $250. Otherwise, it is applied to your overall program fee.
  4. Now, you will complete a second application that includes more detailed information about yourself (such as education background, interests and experience) and why you would like to volunteer abroad. This is also where you will complete your background check if you are a US citizen. If you are not a US citizen and over the age of 18, you are required to submit your own background check, which is usually available at local police offices.

 Review your Application

Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 business days to confirm your acceptance. If we find something in your application that we have concerns about, we will let you know immediately. 95% of applicants are accepted on the program they apply for.

You’re Accepted – now what?

Your program manager will be in touch with you directly about your acceptance. You should expect to receive an orientation packet via email, which talks more about your program, as well as supplemental information about dealing with culture shock and our insurance program. We will also schedule a pre-departure orientation to answer any lingering questions you  may have.