An Elephant Experience at an Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka

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Country: Sri Lanka,
Type: Environment & Wildlife Conservation,

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 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!


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.

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. 

  • Mucking out the elephant enclosures in the morning (this is hard, muddy work!)
  • Participating in bathing some of the smaller elephants.
  • 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

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 habitat.

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.

You will live in a lovely house in the nearby town of Kegalle. The house is typical of the Sri Lankan style and is very 'homely' with five bedrooms, two bathrooms a regal entrance hallway and a brilliant large dining room and living area to socialise in. You will have all necessary facilities such as a washing machine and a TV and DVD player There is cold water only in the house, but with the year round heat in Sri Lanka this has only ever been looked upon as a blessing by our participants!

Food and Transport
A live-in chef will cook all your meals for you and our current volunteers agree with us that the food is delicious!! Transport will be provided for the 25-30-minute journey to and from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

You will be met at Colombo airport by our Sri Lanka Manager, Roshan, and will be taken, usually by car, to Kegalle. You will have the same high level of support provided in all our programmes.

There are internet facilities in Kegalle during the day. There is also a phone in the house that your family and friends can call you on. With a phone card that you can buy locally, you can make international calls home. 

1 Week £695
2 Weeks £915
3 Weeks £1,135
4 Weeks £1,355
Extra Weeks £220

Start Dates
All year round - you choose your start and finish dates!

Minimum length 1 week, up to 4 weeks, subject to visa requirements

Minimum age 18, no qualifications necessary (just a love of elephants), you should be proactive and adaptable to changing requirements.

What's included
►Meeting you at Colombo Airport 
►Transfer to your accommodation 
►Transport to and from your project 
►Full pre-departure support 
►Local in-country team support and backup 
►24-hr emergency support.

What's not included
Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required)


Contact Details



Caravelle House, Goring Road,


BN12 5HY

Telephone 1: 0207 193 6835 (From within the UK) or +44 (0) 207 193 6835 (From outside of the UK)


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