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Sri Lanka - Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation

Travel to beautiful Sri Lanka, visit ancient UNESCO World Heritage Sites, walk in the path of Buddhist pilgrims, and swim in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Volunteer for turtle conservation on one of Sri Lanka's spectacular beaches and give back to the community while learning about the Sri Lankan way of life.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectAmbalangoda, Sri Lanka
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks
Arrival AirportColombo International Airport
Volunteer WorkTurtle conservation, beach maintenance
Number of ParticipantsUp to 10 international volunteers
Age17 - 49
Age Exceptions This project accepts volunteers who are 17 years old and younger with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.

What's Included

AccommodationShared rooms in a volunteer house
Food3 meals a day provided on weekdays, 2 meals a day on the weekend
SupportLocal in-country team and 24 hour emergency support
Airport TransfersPick up from airport on arrival
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions are provided upon arrival
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, visa (if required), local transportation, transportation back to airport upon departure


Sri Lanka is a small island country south east of India in the Indian Ocean. The geography of Sri Lanka is remarkable as you can be in alpine jungle one day, on top of a mountain overlooking tea plantations the next, visiting ancient historical sites with giant Buddha statues carved out of rock, and then be on the beach swimming in the warm waters of the Indian ocean. The people of Sri Lanka are warm and inviting, ready to share their country and open their hearts to those who come to visit. A trip to Sri Lanka is like none other and your heart will open to the land and the people who live there. 


About the Project 

This project is located close to the local fisheries port in the quaint Oceanside town of Ambalangoda. Fishing is one of the major industries in Ambalangoda and there is increasing concern for the sea turtle populations that are affected. The two main issues that sea turtles face are human consumption as turtle eggs are a delicacy in Sri Lanka, and harm caused during net capture which leads to their inability to survive in the wild.

The center's goal is to rescue and protect these sea turtles. They work closely with the Sri Lankan Wildlife department who sets all the rules and regulation for all the conservation programs. The department has awarded them a liscence to care for the disabled turtles and they are currently the only organization in Sri Lanka to have this right. Often the disabled turtles come through the Wildlife department and their main veterinarian gives the center's local veterinarian instructions on how to take care of each turtle.

Orientation Week

This is the first step towards a great stay in an exciting new country! It's an action packed and fun-filled week in Kandy that is dedicated to introducing you to Sri Lanka and all its cultural aspects with a firsthand, live-in experience. You will also have time to meet local people, taste the local cuisine, and get familiar with Sri Lankan customs. 

Volunteer Work and Contribution 

On this project, you will work closely with local partners in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles. This is achieved through both direct care of injured and disabled turtles, as well as enhancing awareness among fisherment and local communities, and releasing baby hatchlings into the sea.
You will spend much of your days on the beach caring for the sea turtles that have been rescued and are now living in the project site. These include 4 of the local species of turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley Turtles.
Responsibilities may include:
  • Feeding the turtles
  • Cleaning their water tanks
  • Taking the turtles out of their tanks to spend time with them on the beach
  • Collecting turtle eggs and bringing them to a safe location for them to hatch
  • Re-releasing hatched baby turtles into the sea
  • Giving talks to educational and tourist groups who come to visit the project
  • Beach maintenance
  • You will work Monday through Friday with weekends off and sufficient free time to enjoy the beach and to explore many of Sri Lanka’s exciting tourist destinations.
Please Note: Volunteers may not use sunscreen or any other chemicals on parts of their skin which touch the water or turtles. Participants with open injuries in their hands also should not work with the turtles directly, as infections may occur.
Cultural Note: Due to cultural norms of Sri Lanka, participants are required to remove any body piercings and cover all visible tattoos while at the project site.


Living Arrangements 

Accommodations: During the orientation week you will stay at the Volunteer house in Kandy comprised of 2 dormitories with a capacity of 4-10 people per room. Private rooms and matrimonial rooms can be requested for an extra fee, depending on availability. There is also the option of staying with a local Sri Lankan family (home stay accommodation) in Kandy for an additional fee. The prices for all upgrades are available upon request.

During the volunteer portion, you will stay at the volunteer house, which is located on the beach and is a 5 minute walk from the project site and town. You will share a room with 4 to 10 volunteers, which includes a shared bathroom and shower as well as a lounge area and beautiful garden to relax in. Please note that there is no air conditioning in the standard accommodations, but fans are provided. Private rooms or homestays are also available for an additiona fee. 

Food: Local vegetarian food is served on site for the volunteers,  with three meals a day on the weekdays and 2 meals a day on the weekends. 

Internet: Internet cafes are available about a 5 minute walk from the accommodations.

Laundry: Laundry services can be arranged for an additional fee. 


Program Add-Ons

During the weekends or after the volunteer placement you can join one of the following program add-ons (book following registration). 

Tropical beach week: Spend an entire week on some of Southern Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beaches. The mornings are packed with exciting activities such as a river safari on the Madu Gaga where you may be able to sight a few crocodiles, a trip to Cinnamon Island to see some island temples and mangroves. You will also visit the Galle Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and see South Asia’s largest sleeping Buddha statue. Your outings for the week also include a trip to the mask factory and the museum. You will have the afternoons and evenings off to spend at the beach. 

Yoga and meditation week: Idulge in a week designed to relax the body and soothe the mind. This week combines Yoga and Meditation with Ayurvedic treatments. This week will teach you the basics of Yoga and Meditation and also educate you about the human body.The techniques taught here form the basics of Yoga and Meditation, as with any form of exercise it is not a magic formula. The benefits of it can be reaped only by continuously practicing it and a conscious change in lifestyle.


Travel Highlights 

Sri Lanka is a paradise for travelers; the island has tremendous sites to visit and the friendliest people who are always helpful and smiling. Sri Lanka really has it all, ancient cultural sites, jungle and rain forest, mountains, wildlife, and the beach. In Sri Lanka there is something for everyone.

A visit to the cultural triangle is a must; you can visit many of the country's UNESCO World Heritage sites here. The cave temples of Dambulla offer not only views all the way to Sigirya but giant Buddha statues carved from stone over 2000 years ago and housed in ancient caves on top of a mountain, towering 160 meters over the surrounding jungle. Sigirya, the ancient mountaintop palace that dates back more than 1500 years is a great day trip, you will climb thousands of stairs to reach the top but it is worth it for the 360 degree view of the jungle below, the rock paintings of beautiful maidens half way up the climb, and the ruins of the giant lion statue that once guarded the entrance to the upper palace. Visiting the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are great highlights of this part of the country. Visiting these sites will give you a glimpse into life in ancient Sri Lanka and the importance of Buddhism in its culture. In these sites you are able to see some of the most spectacular Buddha statues and Pagodas that have been discovered in this part of the world.  

After visiting the cultural sites of Sri Lanka, spending some time in nature is a must. There are many national parks where you can spend time hiking, relaxing by waterfalls, and maybe even see an elephant or two. Climbing up Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) is a great challenge but worth the hard work. Sri Pada is a place of pilgrimage for Sri Lankans; the mountain holds great significance for Buddhists, as a foot print of Buddha is believed to be on the top of the mountain. Some people who are not Buddhist believe that the footprint belongs to Adam and that the top of this mountain is the place where he first touched the earth, giving the mountain the name Adam’s Peak.

Finally, don’t forget about all the fun you can have on the beach including surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and whale watching. Sri Lanka offers all tourist opportunities for a fabulous vacation. Ambalangoda is Sri Lanka’s home to the ancient art of mask making and a visit to the mask museum is a must while you are there. From Ambalangoda you are close to Galle, another UNESCO World Heritage site and other beach towns worth visiting for their crystal clear warm waters and local culture.


Minimum Requirements 

  • Good physical fitness
  • Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
  • Ability to work in a team 
  • Willing to work hard and get your hands dirty
  • Police clearance form

Here's an excerpt of Matthew's experience:


"The second week I moved down south to a new house and to work with the turtles. This was an amazing experience, it was very hands-on and I got to spend as much time with the turtles as I wanted. We cleaned them, fed them and generally worked with them on the beach trying to get them back to full health. They are such amazing animals and the work they do at at this project is fantastic. All the volunteers really care for each individual turtle and no one is afraid about getting dirty and being involved."

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Radu's experience:


"From the outgoing and fun coordinator to the amazing cook, Ambalangoda and its turtle farm will never be forgotten. Even though moving sand, feeding the ferocious reptiles and cleaning their tanks was no easy job, we sweat our way to success."

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


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