Sri Lanka, a small island nation off the coast of Southern India, is a beautiful, greatly under-visited nation -- often described as "India light". With ancient temples, rainforests, and beaches, there is never a shortage of things to explore in Sri Lanka, while delicious tropical curries and warm and inviting locals will make you feel right at home.

Nonetheless, Sri Lanka is still a developing nation and only recently ended its civil war. Volunteers are needed throughout Sri Lanka to work in wildlife conservation, orphanages, and education.

Elephant Volunteering

One of the biggest highlights of Sri Lanka is its wildlife, especially its population of wild elephants.

Unfortunately, elephant deaths from farmers killing elephants to protect their homes and farms (the Human Elephant Conflict) -- and likewise, human deaths from elephants entering populated areas that were once solely theirs to explore in search of food -- is an issue. In the past, volunteers were able to make an impact by volunteering at elephant orphanages taking care of young elephants orphaned by these deaths. This is no longer a viable or responsible option for volunteers, as the popularity in elephant orphanages has turned the most famous of them into a tourist trap where elephants are unnecessarily kept in captivity.

Instead, volunteers can help with alleviating the Human Elephant Conflict by volunteering with organizations that work with wild elephants and the communities that surround them. Educate locals, help find solutions for keeping elephants out of populated areas, and assist with field research.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Like many island destinations, Sri Lanka is home to a significant population of sea turtles. Help organizations that are working towards conserving these sea turtles.

Orphanage Work

Due to poverty and the recently ended civil war, Sri Lanka has a number of orphans, and thus many orphanages to care for them. As a volunteer in a Sri Lankan orphanage, you will help in administrative work, taking care of the children, and planning and conducting activities for the children.

Volunteering Tips

Sri Lanka has seen civil war from 1985 to 2008, so ethnic situations are somewhat tense in the nation. Know that the three ethnic groups (Sinhalese, Moors and Tamil) are very different from each other and will take offense if you mix them up.

Best Places To Volunteer

Although Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka, most volunteers with pass through only as a landing base. Volunteer programs exist throughout the country -- especially in or near national parks if you're working with wildlife.

Another excellent destination for volunteers is Kandy, a pleasant mid-sized city in the tea growing region of Sri Lanka.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Sri Lanka

As a volunteer in Sri Lanka, you are recommended, but not required, to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B, and Typhoid. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, get vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis and Rabies. For more information, visit MD Travel Health.

Sri Lanka has no to low risk of malaria.

Sri Lanka is a relatively safe nation for tourists and volunteers, but remember to be vigilant in crowded areas and tourist spots for pickpockets.

Volunteer Programs in Sri Lanka

Volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful
Displaying 1 - 15 of 70 programs
VESL
Volunteer and Teach English in South East Asia
Multiple Countries
9.91 •11 reviews

Looking for a great opportunity to develop your C.V whilst having the...

Tea Leaf Trust
Volunteer with Tea Leaf Trust in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
10 •5 reviews

We are looking for enthusiastic individuals who are passionate about...

Give A Fig Volunteering
Volunteer on the Island in the Indian Ocean that Holds a Continent
Sri Lanka
9.63 •8 reviews

Join our year round education, and village development projects in Sri...

Volunteer Abroad GT
Affordable Volunteer Abroad in Healthcare & Medical Programs from $159 per week
Multiple Countries
9.86 •7 reviews

VAGT provides the most affordable medical & healthcare volunteer...

IFRE Volunteers Abroad
The Most Affordable Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $155- 25K happy Volunteers Since 2006
Sri Lanka
8.73 •22 reviews

Looking for a life-changing experience that will completely...

RCDP International Volunteer Program
Volunteer in Sri Lanka - Lowest Fees & Happy Volunteers Since 1998
Sri Lanka
9.38 •8 reviews

Join our very affordable program in a country with stunning landscapes...

105 reviews
Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $270
Sri Lanka
9.5 •105 reviews

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the lovely...

Developing World Connections
Developing World Connections - Volunteering in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
10 •2 reviews

The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed more than 40,000 Sri Lankans and...

The Elephant Freedom Project Sri Lanka
The Elephant Freedom Project Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
10 •3 reviews

NO ELEPHANT RIDING -NEVER. Hello! We, Ananda, Malie and our teenager...

Global Crossroad
Volunteer in Sri Lanka - Lowest Fees & Trusted Since 2003
Sri Lanka
9.5 •4 reviews

Have you always wanted to travel to a lush and vibrant country where...

Elephant Care Relief Foundation
Volunteer Ethically with Sri Lanka's Domesticated Elephants
Sri Lanka
10 •3 reviews

Here at the Elephant Care Relief Foundation (ECRF), we care solely for...

Idex
Volunteer & Travel in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
9.6 •5 reviews

Idex has been providing travel and volunteer experiences to...

Prithipura Communities
Prithipura Communities: Disability Volunteering
Sri Lanka
9.5 •4 reviews

Would you like to make a difference in the lives of children and...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Sri Lanka from $315
Sri Lanka
9.4 •42 reviews

Volunteer with IVHQ in Sri Lanka! Highly affordable volunteer projects...

Global Crossroad
Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka-Lowest Fees & Trusted Since 2003
Sri Lanka
9.67 •3 reviews

Volunteers in the Sri Lanka project offer English teaching programs in...

What People Are Saying

So you’re probably on here right now as you’re feeling a bit skeptical about this whole thing, don’t worry I was the exact same. Checking the ins and outs to make sure this is all legit. It is and I...

Sunset

Over the Christmas holidays, I was fortunate enough to travel to Kandy, Sri Lanka on my second volunteer aboard program with IVHQ. During my first two-weeks I completed a volunteer placement teaching...

Treeking Week - Knuckles Range

Where to begin! I volunteered for 2 weeks at a Turtle Conservation Project in Sri Lanka. This was my first time traveling abroad and I couldn't have picked a more perfect place. This country has SO...

Little Adam's Peak

Related Volunteer Abroad Articles