Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $300
94% Rating
(89 Reviews)

Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $300

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the lovely coastal town of Ambalangoda in Sri Lanka. Volunteers get involved in a wide-range of project work including English teaching, orphanage care, medical electives, psychology & mental health, turtle and elephant conservation and building projects.

Our programs in Ambalangoda run throughout the year. We have two start dates every month so you decide when you go and how long you go for.

Locations
Asia » Sri Lanka
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
- Accommodation
- Meals
- Airport Pickup
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country orientation course
- Volunteer Handbook
- Full Financial Protection
- And of course PMGY’s round the clock 24/7 UK support service – It’s what we’re famous for!
Other Locations
Ambalangoda

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    89%
  • Support
    96%
  • Fun
    92%
  • Value
    90%
  • Safety
    96%

Program Reviews (89)

Default avatar
Ellie
Female
Australia
Swinburne University of Technology

Teaching Program

10/10

I was lucky enough to stumble across PMGY while searching the internet for what I wanted to do on my gap year. I spent 6 weeks in Sri lanka with Ashika and all the other coordinators and its fiar to say that it's been the best 6 weeks I could ever have imagined. The house (london house) is lovdely and all the sisters work hard to cook your meals and keep everything tidy for you. Abalangoda itself is an amazing little town where you get to experience the real culture of Sri Lanka, but tourist towns such as Hikkadua arent to far away either. The people you meet inside the house will become your life long friends in a matter of days and you so quickly learn to go out and adventure together on weekends.

If you're looking at doing the teaching program, get ready for a whole lot of love. These kids will enrich your life with love and gratitude like you never knew possible. Depending on how many volunteers on the project at the time, you may get a class to yourself or be teaching with someone. It only really takes a couple of days to get used to them and then you know exactly how to work with them. The house has many helpful books to help you plan lessons, and the coordinators are gret for advice too. The kids I worked with for 6 weeks changed my life in a way I never expected!!

Mary
Female

Pmgy summer

10/10

This summer I spent 5 weeks in India and 4 in Sri Lanka with Pmgy. In India I’ve participated on the orphanage program, but was also lucky enough to participate on disable children program in slums and special needs center. I absolutely loved programs there. Usually half of the time we studied with the kids (math, alphabet, vocabulary), the second part spent playing their favourite games and learning Indian dances.

Tuk Tuks what were arranged to bring us to the orphanage and back home again, so there was no problem with a transport. Also drivers were so lovely.
The food in the accommodation was basic - rice, vegetable curry, bread, some days samosas and another traditional things. The accommodation was basic as well, but exactly there we could feel the real voluntary work (but I wish they could change matresses🙏🏻). I’ve did 2 weekend trips, what were nicely organised as well. Very glad to know Vishy and Kranti. They helped a lot, even in some personal issues (like shopping😋). Also another coordinator Jon helped a lot in our work, cheered us up with country conditions! Definitely I would like to repeat my voluntary experience in India!

In Sri Lanka I was involved in the renovation program - we worked in the monastery (painted the walls). I loved this place and this program! Very quiet and peaceful.
The accommodation where I lived was called River House - a big and nice place near the water. The food was nice, we had the timetable with a menu for every day.
The transport also had a timetable, so we could go to the town easily. I had one weekend trip with Pmgy. It was organised very well. I would like to say thanks to coordinators there, because they helped me a lot in some personal and professional issues.

Thank you, Philip, for all this profesional organization.

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Stephanie
Female
21 years old
Isle of Man
Edge Hill University

Orphanage Project

10/10

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for two weeks during April 2017. It was an invaluable experience and one that I’d recommend to anyone. Ash and the PMGY team work so hard to ensure that everyone is safe, comfortable and is having the best possible experience. London House is fabulous! Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with an incredible culture which you can fully immerse yourself into by staying in Ambalangoda with Ash and his lovely family. Two weeks really wasn’t long enough, I wish I could’ve stayed longer and I was so sad to say goodbye. I would recommend staying at least 4-6 weeks, it won’t be regretted. I volunteered for the Orphanage Project where I practiced English with two girls aged 7 and 8, this one-to-one experience meant that you could build a bond with the children. They spoke very good English which is a direct result of the efforts put in by PMGY. I also bought a day pass for the elephants and turtle conservation, this is highly recommended! If you have no plans for the weekend, I went on the adventure, hill country and safari weekend trip. This was a brilliant way to travel to places which would otherwise be difficult to get to. The views were incredible when we were driving through the hill country and Yala Safari is so much fun! As a trainee Primary School teacher I would strongly recommend volunteering with PMGY, I gained so much more than teaching practice from this experience!

Thank you Ash, your family and PMGY for offering the experience of a life time! I wish I could’ve stayed longer! I will definitely return to Sri Lanka in the future and use PMGY again.

Default avatar
Lauren
Female
22 years old
United Kingdom
Nottingham Trent University

An amazing experience

8/10

I had an amazing experience in Sri Lanka, the pre-departure information was really useful, the handbook was really informative and helped me feel prepared for starting the volunteer programs and for what it would be like living in Sri Lanka. I worked at the elephant project for 2 weeks which was an incredible experience to be so up close to the elephants every day. On the project we would clean out the elephants areas, walk the elephants to the river, bathe the elephants and then give them some fruit. It could get a bit repetitive which is why I think 2 weeks was a good amount of time to spend on the project. They also take you on an elephant safari which is really exciting and a great way to break up the week. I also spent a week on the turtle project, It was a lot of cutting up fish and feeding them to the turtles but the baby turtles are adorable and it was amazing to get to release them into the sea. The weekend trips are worth going on, they can seem quite expensive but they are well organised and you get to see a lot more of Sri Lanka. I would definitely recommend volunteering with PMGY.

How can this program be improved?

The elephant program could be improved by changing up what the volunteers are doing each day and making them feel like they're having a bigger impact. I think its also important to be more clear about where the elephants have come from and their backgrounds.

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Maya
Female
19 years old
Cambridge

An incredible 4 weeks!

10/10

I've had the most amazing 4 weeks in Sri Lanka with PMGY! I've met some incredible people, worked with some lovely kids and made the best memories! All the pre departure information is great, helping you feel more prepared for when you arrive. I volunteered on the teaching project, working with children aged 9-14 and I loved it! It was so much fun as the kids are so willing to learn and everyday is different! Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and there's so many places to explore at the weekends including beaches, national parks and temples.

A big thank you to Ash and all the coordinators in Sri Lanka. They really are fantastic and always willing to help you out with anything you need. They are also great at making you feel welcome from the moment you first arrive in the country. This was my second brilliant trip with PMGY, so also thank you to the UK team 😊 I can definitely recommend PMGY and Sri Lanka to anyone wanting to volunteer abroad and my biggest tip would be to just book it! I would love to do another trip in the future, to another PMGY destination and also back to Sri Lanka! I've never felt so at home in a country as I did in Sri Lanka and I miss it so much, even after being home for a month!

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Heather
Female
20 years old
Cheshire
University of Chester

Mental Health and Psychology

10/10

I was initially sceptical about what the placement would be like with being introduced this year, but I found it a once in a lifetime experience. By producing a two-week timetable meant that no two days would be the same. Each placement varied, meaning that you could experience the cultural differences. The people I met there were incredible, both the other volunteers and the staff. I’d definitely want to visit the beautiful country again.

How can this program be improved?

The only improvement with this project would be organisation between both PMGY and the placements. At times we were unaware of what was happening, and sometimes had to do something/go somewhere different then planned.

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James
Male
18 years old
France
Other

Turtle project volunteering

10/10

Sri Lanka was the first stop on my gap year and I spent 3 weeks doing the turtle project. I met some truely amazing people while volunteering with PMGY, both staff and other volunteers. The experience at the turtle hatchery was eye opening and very humbling. The accommodation was basic but functional and the PMGY team is fantastic! I would fully recommend the experience to anyone! I had such an amazing time in Sri Lanka!

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Alison
Female
19 years old
Scotland
Other

The real experience

9/10

Before coming to Sri Lanka I felt that the support given from the Pmgy team was great, anytime I had any questions they were answered very quickly. I also found the live videos very helpful.

From the moment I arrived in Sri Lanka I felt the team provided excellent service, jäger was waiting at the airport to pick us up and take us to the first place in the real experience. The team provided great support throughout my entire stay.

The accommodation throughout my first two weeks of the experience was great, I enjoyed it and would do it again. I then arrived at river house, which has beautiful scenery and common space for all volunteers.

I loved my projects, my first project was monk teaching, every morning for two weeks! I loved it, planning lessons and presenting them was amazing as you can see how much they appreciate it. In the afternoon I also done the teaching project at one of the summer camps, this was slightly more challenging as my group of children were pre-school and didn’t understand any English. This was very challenging and also very rewarding. I loved it! For my last two weeks I took part in the elephant project! It was amazing walking, cleaning and feeding these beautiful creatures. Such lovely animals, I’d definitely do it again.

Advice for potential volunteers
- bring bedding
- Teaching - be prepared to do lots of planning for lessons, also be prepared to see how people live and what they have compared to us.
- Elephants - be prepared for the elephants in chains as it’s the law. Also, the mahout will hit the elephant with its stick, they are trained through punishment not reward.
- bring a GoPro(I didn’t and I really felt I missed out on capturing a lot of memories)
- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR EXPERIENCE

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Sarah
Female
27 years old
England
Other

Amazing

10/10

I had no idea what to expect before I left, I hadn't done anything like this before and felt massively out of my comfort zone - but as soon as I arrived I felt relaxed and safe.
The accommodation was better than I expected - the food was good (obviously you get used to having the same sort of meals every day), I liked that you had the freedom to just go off and get a tuk tuk into Amba and have a wander and explore.
The induction day - I felt was really useful, the staff made me feel more comfortable and I knew from that day that they would help with anything (I ended up having to go to the doctors and they made sure that someone came with me, and they made sure I was okay after). It was really handy to be shown where to go and given a bit more of a background on Sri Lanka and the local area.
I did the orphanage project - and ended up also doing the Monk teaching in the morning too - something that I am so pleased I did! I expected to spend more time with the kids, but after joining the Monks too it was fine. You just have to make sure that you make the most of your free time! When I went to my first day of the projects I was terrified! I felt that the kids didn't listen and I wasn't going to get anywhere - but after a couple of days, you won't want to ever leave!
I would recommend getting day passes to some of the animal projects - I did the turtle one, and it was good to have a change and get to see what the other guys were doing!
I did the weekend trip to Kandy and climbed lions rock, I have heard that you could prob organise it yourself, but I felt a lot more safer going with the organised trip but I guess thats up to you!
I know I only did it for 2 weeks, and it was my first time, but I would recommend PMGY as they were so helpful before I left and during! The team over there were amazing and I am thinking of doing something next year with them too!
Thanks for the opportunity! :)

How can this program be improved?

With the orphanage project, maybe a better system in place to see what the kids have been learning - I found that the folders weren't up to date, and for the first few lessons, went over the same subjects.

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Elorm
Male
18 years old
United Kingdom
Other

Sri Lanka Medical experience

9/10

I must say I love Sri Lanka as a country from the rich culture and the amazing people I stayed with. The whole experience is life changing and make you appreciate what we have as a family. I only stayed for 2 week but it was an action filled adventurous and mind changing experience. The co-ordinators were down to earth and co operative and were my family for the two weeks I stayed there. The accommodation wasn't the best but I did get a good sleep every night and felt safe in the hands of Ashika and the rest of the Sri Lanka team.

How can this program be improved?

I would say one thing that would need improvement would be advice on how much spending money to bring with us on the trip as well as a longer program for the medical experience.

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Millie
Female
20 years old
Northamptonshire
University of Hull

Elephant project

10/10

I volunteered with the Elephants in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. It wasn’t what I was initially expecting, but the experience of it all was so much fun and I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave! The two different accomodations allowed you to experience the lifestyle of sri lakans, as well as have some of the home comforts too! Be prepared for the beds though, they aren’t the most comfortable...The people that you meet whilst volunteering makes the experience 100% better and they’re definitely people you will stay in contact with! Cannot wait to go travel again!

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Jemma
Female
20 years old
United Kingdom
Liverpool John Moores University

Sri Lanka-Mental Health Programme

9/10

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for a month in July doing the mental health programme, as the programme was new it was still had a few issues however the staff tried very hard to resolve the issues, the programme allowed an insight into how mental health is dealt with in a developing country which was very interesting. I would recommend the mental health programme however I would also suggest that people are patient with the project and that sometimes things don't go as planned. During my time in the project I visited two different hospitals where I was able to observe patients appointments, I also visited an outpatient clinic which was very insightful and I was allowed to observe the daily routine of the patients and ask many questions about the how the clinic worked, I also volunteered in a special needs school, where my presence was very appreciated and the staff were helpful at explaining what they did to try and improve the childrens education. The local staff were all helpful and very welcoming, especially Manoj and Nalaka.

How can this program be improved?

The mental health programme just needs a bit more time to make concrete connections due to being a new project, however Sri Lanka is still a developing country so problems are bound to occur.

Lucy
Female

The Real Experience

10/10

Words can't explain how much i enjoyed my time in Sri Lanka doing the Real Experience. Not only have I made a tonne of amazing memories, I have also made life long friends!

In regards to the pre-departure support I felt like I was very prepared. The team provide you with a very in-depth handbook with all the information you need to know about how to get the right visa, what to bring etc. You can also join their page on facebook where you can ask questions to other volunteers and find anyone who may be doing the same project as you so you can make a group chat and get to know them before you go.

The support in Sri Lanka was brilliant. Not once did i feel unsure or unsafe. During the two weeks of travelling we always had Nisha and the bus drivers around if you needed any help and there were plenty of staff available at the volunteer house! The accommodation for the two weeks of travelling were very lovely hotels and the majority of them had a pool. You were catered for every breakfast and dinner there with a buffet - usually consisting of toast & fruit for breakfast and rice & different types of curry for dinner. Lunch was usually at a buffet place somewhere else. We stayed at the River House for the volunteering which was very different to the hotels but that was expected. The dorms were simple with bunk beds and a shared bathroom. The river house itself was lovely, you could go sit by the river and watch the gorgeous sunsets or sunbathe by the pool (although watch out for the ants as they're practically everywhere)

I did the Turtle project in the morning and Teaching in the afternoons. Turtles were great fun although sometimes there would be too many people so there wouldn't be enough things for everyone to do. Releasing the baby turtles was definitely my favourite part, such a good experience! Teaching in the afternoon was great as the kids love learning English. It's definitely more hard work though as their lessons are a lot longer so trying to come up with new games to help them concentrate is quite difficult but there are plenty of folders at the volunteer house with lesson plans that previous volunteers have done so you can come up with games and topics from there.

Please note that within the travelling, there are restrictions on leaving the hotels. The coordinators live in Sri Lanka, they know whether if its safe or not to be leaving the hotels late at night so if they say no then please respect that. You will get the weekends and evenings to do what you please when you get to the volunteer house.

Overall, my time in Sri Lanka is unforgettable and would definitely recommend the Real Experience as you get to travel all of Sri Lanka's main tourist areas as well as volunteering.

Hay
Female

8 weeks volunteering in Sri Lanka.

9/10

I have just completed 8 weeks volunteering with Plan My gap year in Sri Lanka and I had a great time!

The support before you depart was amazing, walking me through every aspect of my trip and answering any questions I had with no hesitation. This continued in country with an amazing group of local and western co ordinators to aid your trip in any and every way possible. The co ordinators are a credit to Plan my gap year and made my trip more enjoyable and memorable.

I volunteered in the teaching programmes whilst in Sri Lanka and whilst this was incredibly challenging (preparing and making all your resources without a computer or printer, the language barrier and no curriculum to follow) I really enjoyed my time with the children and they taught me whilst I was teaching them. What a great experience!

As a solo traveller I felt safe throughout my whole trip and was able to meet so many likeminded people and I have made lasting friendships with them.

I would definitely recommend Plan my gap year.

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Kerry
Female
31 years old
Ambalongoda, Sri Lanka
University of Greenwich

Medical experience

7/10

In regards to pre-departure support, I feel that there was lots of support given in term of the webinars and the handbook, I feel the handbook listed the information I required prior to this trip.
In terms of in country support, this was very good, there was always a coordinator around to help if you needed it, even late at night. There is security always on duty which made me feel safe. A member of my group needed medical attention and I can honestly say the support she was given from both the Sri Lankan staff (Manoj) and English staff (Steph) was amazing! They coordinated for her to see a specialist within 20 minutes and were at the hospital by her side for her whole experience.
I stayed at River House, it was nice as it was all outside, rooms were basic with bunk beds, the biggest positive was that it had air conditioning. A negative is that there was only one bathroom in the building shared between a lot of people, but once you find the toilets and showers by the pool it made life lots easier.
I was on the medical programme, overall it was a pleasant experience, visiting both the local government hospital and the local Ayurveda hospital. It was good to see the difference in health care between the UK and Sri Lanka. I would have liked to have been more involved and hands on, but I knew this before the programme started. When being on the wards in the hospital it was difficult as not many of the nurses spoke English, but I still managed to get involved in terms of reading notes and spending times with patients. Manoj (local coordinator) really does his best to ensure you have a pleasant time, however, there is a barrier between what the doctors have agreed for the volunteers to do/observe and what the nurses allow you to do.
Overall, a pleasant experience.

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Paula
Female
20 years old
Spain
Complutense University of Madrid

Medical Project - Four weeks

8/10

I have just returned from Sri Lanka after being there for one month doing the medical project. About the project, although it was not as I expected, I was able to see how hospitals work there and I also saw some interesting things like operations and deliveries. However, as it was not a project in which you felt needed, in addition some of us signed up for the orphanage project for two weeks during the afternoon (without any problem). The little girls in the Girls Orphanage are so cute and they are very excited for you to come and teach and play with them. The rest of the afternoons we were able to visit other cities, go to the beach and go shopping for souvenirs.

I also went to the "Adventure, hill country & safari weekend trip" and to the " Cultural triangle & elephants weekend trip". I would recommend them if you want to see the inner part of the country. We saw many awesome views and cultural events in the two of them. I would just notice that you have to be prepared for many hours on bus. However, if you preferred going to the beach, the staff would help you preparing your trip and would recommend you the best places.

The local staff is really nice and helps you with everything you need!

To sum up, this trip has given me the opportunity to discover the real Sri Lanka, try new food, learn other cultures, meet new people (western and local), and live an experience I have never had before.

How can this program be improved?

Projects could be longer.

Hannah
Female

Four weeks in Sri Lanka

7/10

I was so excited to go to Sri Lanka in the summer after my A level exams; it was my way of cramming a gap year into one month before university. We arrived early in the morning and were instantly welcomed by the coordinators - they made the whole trip so easy because they were so easy to talk to and would go out of their way to help you. Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country and being on the elephant project meant I got to see a lot of the scenery every day as we drove to project. The only way to get the most out of your project is to get completely stuck in - sometimes hands are better than a shovel! The highlight of my day was always feeding the elephants after their scrub. They're so cheeky and will try to cram as many cucumbers in their mouth as they can! I really recommend the Cultural Triangle weekend trip as a way to explore a lot of Sri Lanka quickly and in a stress-free way. The view from the top of Lion Rock is incredible! Thank you to all the amazing people I met who made the whole experience unforgettable!

How can this program be improved?

It would have been nice to be able to leave the accommodation without always having to pay for transport, maybe a free bus service into Amba and it would have been easier if transfer back to the airport was included in the original fee.

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Izzy
Female
17 years old
Toulouse
Other

Turtle conservation from 5th to 26th August

9/10

Reading the pre-departure volunteer handbook really help me prepare for the journey despite not being available for any of the webinar. Whilst flying I was quite worried as my final flight was delayed so I text someone through the in country support phone number and got a response so quick and made me feel a lot more relaxed. I was at River house for the entire stay and loved it, at first I felt slightly disappointed purely because I had only watched the London house tour and thought it looked amazing. I realized that Riverhouse was beautiful and I felt more located in Sri Lanka and I really enjoyed my room, I got on straight away with my roommates whom I'll be seeing in October. I loved the freedom that you had where you could walk to and from the restaurant, there was a swing and a large pool and the views you see are absolutely stunning! On the turtle conservation project I did expect to do a little more in the first week rather than alternating feeding and painting as I am not an artist, and we finished an hour early. We spoke to a staff member and they came to project the next week and had a look round then after that we had more to do, we fed, did beach cleaning, we cleaned the turtle's shells, and applied their medication, cleaned their tanks and did a release!
My advice to anyone thinking of PMGY, volunteering in Sri Lanka or working with turtles would be to do it. It was the most amazing experience in my life so far. PMGY made my first volunteering trip a memorable one and Sri Lanka is a beautiful country where the local are always very kind and the turtle conservation Staff - Soni and Rana are so lovely and always happy to talk about all the turtles and encourage you to get completely stuck in.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I would like is the option to possibly stay longer at the project a few times a week, not everyday as it is nice to have the time to travel and relax, but to stay longer to have that extra time at the sanctuary. Other than that it was amazing!

Kalina
Female

Incredible Sri Lankan Experience - Orphanage and Monk Teaching Program

10/10

Having just returned from 2 weeks with PMGY in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka, I cannot recommend this program enough! I signed up having never previously travelled alone and found that PMGY thoroughly prepared me for my trip, carefully responding to all of my pre-departure enquiries and providing all necessary information in their specialised handbook. I felt 100% secure arriving in Sri Lanka even after a delayed flight; the staff make sure you are looked after in all stages of your stay. Once I arrived, I quickly realised that we would be having a very authentic Sri Lankan experience - the local food was delicious, the tuk tuk's exciting and the view from River House was incredible, with the pinkest sunsets you've ever seen every night. In-country everything can be organised if needs be, the staff helped us get local SIM cards, change our money, organise weekend trips etc. Transport around the area in your own time is easy as they have a PMGY tuk tuk system in place, which is safe, easy and quick. River House has a beautiful view of MaduGanga river and the accommodation has a great atmosphere.

I signed up to do the orphanage project in the afternoons but also signed up to teach young Monks English in the mornings once I arrived. Each of these are two week commitments and I enjoyed every day of them. The children are all eager to learn and get to know you. At the girl's orphanage we spent some time teaching English and some time playing games and bonding with the girls. I would recommend making plans for teaching in both projects as this makes your time a lot more worthwhile with them and helps you to make the most of the hours you have together each day. Many of the girls in the orphanage like to give you their books at the end of the day and enjoy having handmade worksheets to fill in with you on the following day, which you can then check for them. All the kids are extremely hard working.

My advice for future volunteers is to come with an open mind and embrace all the quirks of the local culture. I came with high expectations and my experience went above and beyond them. The country is beautiful, the people are so kind and PMGY make your stay extremely comfortable and enjoyable.

Ashli
Female

Elephant Experience August 2017

10/10

If you're thinking about heading to Sri Lanka for volunteering I highly recommmend it. This was my first trip away alone and I was really worried about going, but PMGY helped organise everything even my flights which took so much pressure and stress off the experience. There is constant support from the team and when you arrive there is always someone around to answer questions. There is also a couple of group chats you get added to whilst you're over there which the organisers always check. Nalaka would always be online to organise transport for you and friends if you wanted to go somewhere, making it really easy to see other areas of Sri Lanka.
I stayed in River House, which is the main accommodation, and there was lovely views, monkeys in the trees and really spacious rooms. There isn't many places to unpack your stuff but everyone just slid their suitcase under the bed and found it easier living out of it for a couple of weeks anyway. The food was also really good but they staff will also make any extra snacks or tea for you during the day if you ask nicely!

The elephant project was, definitely for me, a big eye opener to what these elephants have to go through every day. During orientation Ashika explained to us what to expect on the experience so we were prepared for the elephants to be in chains as it was the law. Although, I feel everyone who bought a day pass should have been told this as some people were so surprised they refused to participate, which made it harder for everyone else. Over all, knowing these elephants are having a break from their work and time to relax certainly outweighed the negatives. It did feel like we were helping them everyday, although finding out they are scrubbed for 4 hours a day was a shock when we only scrubbed them for an hour! On our final day we were taken to see a male who had been rescued by Ashika and allowed to move freely with out chains. He was so well behaved it was amazing to see him walk around freely, even to home when his mahout told him to so. It was incredible to see, after several young elephants had to be chained more as they were not fully trained.

I also went on the hilltop and safari weekend trip, from Friday morning to Sunday evening. Although some people complained that there was to much traveling involved, you must realise no one ever saw so many incredible things staying in one spot. Yes, there was a lot of time on the bus, but even looking out of the window had its perks when driving up the side of a mountain to see a tea plantation, and feeling as though the bus could topple off the edge at any moment. The hotels we stayed in were also lovely and it was great to try new food, and wake up ready for the next days adventure! The hike to worlds end was also great! While in Sri Lanka we came to realise that the time you were meant to be picked up was usually half an hour to an hour earlier than when they actually arrive. We asked Kazun how long the hike was, he responded 2 hours, so we were expecting 3/4 hours.. to our surprise it was actually 2 hours!

Overall, I really do suggest taking a trip to Sri Lanka, if you're unsure then pop by for only 2 weeks, and you can always extend your trip while you're over there! - the team also make this really easy for you to do if you want to!

How can this program be improved?

A few more options at breakfast. Toast and eggs are great but if you're there longer than 2 weeks they can become quite dull.

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Abbie
Female
17 years old
United Kingdom
Other

2 Weeks Volunteering - Elephant Project

9/10

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for 2 weeks from the 5th to the 19th August with PMGY and can honestly say I had the most amazing time and met the most amazing people.
The staff at PMGY were fantastic as soon as I had signed up, keeping me updated on my application and allowing my friend and I to book together. They helped me to book my flight and answered any questions I had, no matter how insignificant they were (Colby in particular was a great help, responding almost instantly and helping with many different aspects of my application). The volunteer handbook was very useful in getting a basic understanding of the culture and was helpful when trying to apply for visas etc.
The team in Sri Lanka were so welcoming and friendly; they always made an effort to have a conversation and a laugh with you and were also good at giving advice on what to do in Sri Lanka.

I stayed in River House, which although it wasn't the best, I had a great time there and made so many memories. There were a lot of bugs, a few problems with the bathroom (which the staff were very quick in dealing with once we'd actually told them!) and not a lot of room in the bedrooms but being in such close proximity to the other volunteers allowed us all to become very close friends. The swimming pool is a great area to allow you to talk to some of the other volunteers in other rooms and was lovely to be able to have a swim after a long morning of volunteering!
I personally really enjoyed the food at the accommodation. Lunches and dinners were usually very good and I tried a lot of new food that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to. Breakfast was much more repetitive and wasn't as great but many of us bought our own food to eat in the mornings.

Although it was harder work than I had expected, I really enjoyed doing the elephant project. It was an amazing experience to be so up close with the elephants and to be able to wash and feed them. Although they experienced some complications with one of the elephants and mahouts (which was completely out of PMGY's control) which slightly disrupted the normal routine of our project, the coordinators made sure we still got to work with the elephants everyday. On a typical day we would drive about an hour to get to the elephants, clean up the site e.g. shovelling elephant dung, sweeping leaves etc. There was then a short walk to the river where we would wash and scrub the elephants. We then fed the elephants, got loads of photos and then had an hour drive back to the house. There was also an elephant safari included in this project which was one of the best days on the project. We got up at about 3am and drove to Udawalawe National Park where we saw so many elephants - it was a great start to the 2 weeks!

I had one full weekend in Sri Lanka and used this to go on the Yala National Safari Weekend Trip. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the activities that we did (especially the World's End hike, Hindu temple and Yala National Safari Park), I felt like there wasn't enough time to spend in each place as we did so much travelling on the bus over just one weekend. However, it was a good way to be able to see things further afield in a short space of time. If I had been in Sri Lanka for another weekend, I definitely would have loved to use this for independent travel with my friends.

Overall, I had an amazing experience in Sri Lanka and the staff at PMGY were absolutely amazing from the beginning to the end. I would have loved to stay for longer than 2 weeks as I felt like there was so much more I had to see and I would have loved to have experienced some of the other projects too.

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Lydia
Female
21 years old
Liverpool
University of Bristol

Mental health

7/10

The mental health and psychology programme has a varied schedule including working in a local orphanage, visiting out patient clinics, meditations with monks and meeting psycharists. Learning about the differences between western and Sri Lankan medication was also very interesting such as meeting an Ayurvedic practitioner and observing her with clients!

The majority of the time the programme is either in the morning or afternoon and is quite rare for it to be both. You would generally spend around 2-3 hours a day on project and then have the rest of the day to yourself. On occasion we would turn up to our project locations and project would be cancelled.

How can this program be improved?

Communication would be the main thing that I think could be improved. Communication between pmgy and the institutions that we were visiting could be better with regards to ensuring that the institution is expecting us to be coming and confirmation of that. We were often not told about these issues and so project was sometimes cut short because of this.

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Amy
Female
17 years old
Cumbria
Other

Sri Lanka - 4th to 19th August

9/10

All the pre-departure information was very thorough and useful. The addition of the handbook was very reassuring and helpful. While I was there the staff were so informative and supportive to me, especially the cooks. I loved the accommodation: lots of space and not far from the town. I worked on the Medical Project for a week and a half where I observed the doctors and nurses in the private hospital. I found some part interesting and helpful but it was a little unstructured for me. As the doctors and nurses are really busy, we didn't do anything for most of the majority of the mornings I worked on the project but what we did do was really good. The last half of the last week I worked in the Monk School which was so good. I loved teaching the monks and they made me feel very much apart of their community. My only advice would be bring more English money than you think as I started to run out and felt obliged to stay in when others went out and was also unable to buy more internet while I was in London House. Overall though, it was amazing! :)

How can this program be improved?

More organisation and structure
More fulfilling Projects

Anuj
Male

Sri Lanka construction and renovation

9/10

The PMGY trip was really good, especially in regards to the social aspects, but do be warned that on construction that it is quite costly. Given that you only do 1 hour, which makes sense given it is hard work, it may not seem value for money, but know that for all of them you pay for the social aspect and safety as well. Thus, I would strongly recommend this trip if you are looking to help abroad but are also very driven to sightseeing and going out with friends. Note, it is costly so have a wallet that will almost definitely become a lot emptier.

How can this program be improved?

Construction and renovation was costlier than I imagined it would be. Part of this is due to the £50 not being put on the online charge with the £75 but to be given there. I would have preferred to pay it online as I forgot and it almost caused me a big problem with my finances.

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sara
Female
19 years old
spain
Antonio de Nebrija University

My volunteering experience

8/10

It was my first time doing volunteering activities. I had a really good time in Sri Lanka. I did the orphanage project for four weeks and the turtles project for two week. The orphanage It´s been my favourite one for sure. Being able to spend time with these kids was incredible. Every day they were waiting for us in the entrance of the orphanage with a big smile in their faces. Maybe these kids can teach us more than we can teach them such as value more the things that we have in the first world and be more generous because we can be happy with much less than we have. To sum up, It was a really good experience that I recommend to everyone!

How can this program be improved?

In my opinion, the orphanage project wasn´t very well organized. I mean the children were all together despite their age and english level so not all of them could understand us during the class time. It would had been more useful making separated groups. Furthermore if we have had more information about them and the activities they did normally maybe we could have done more interesting activities for them.

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Theo
Male
19 years old
London

Real Experience PMGY Sri Lanka

10/10

I took part in the Real Experience in Sri Lanka, where I went travelling all around the country with a group of 13 others in the first two weeks of my trip and then did a volunteering placement in the second two weeks.
The first half of the experience was amazing (as was the rest of it). We saw so much of the country and had so much fun; it was a great way to get to know the people I was with and we all got along really well. We were accompanied by our guide and driver (Kasun & Jaga <3) and they were always on hand to answer our questions and keep us safe. Our accommodation was in various hotels (all included in the price and organised by PMGY), which were all clean. We were always doing something enjoyable, be it visiting an elephant orphanage, relaxing on a beach, going on safari or touring temples. The food we had (again organised by PMGY and included in the price) was unbelievable! I would often fill up two plates of food because it was that good and I always looked forward to lunch and dinner. This was an awesome way to see the country and I am sure that if I had not gone with PMGY and had gone independently, I would not have done all that I did in these two weeks and certainly not for as low a price.
During the second two weeks, I volunteered at Roseth Hospital (one of the medical projects) and stayed at River House (one of PMGY's volunteer houses). The project exceeded my expectations massively; I learnt so much during my time there and it was much more structured than I was expecting. We were given topics to learn about in each department we went to, such as the different types of containers used when taking blood or the procedure of Root Canal Treatment in Dentistry. This made sure we had a basis upon which to ask questions and learn. I was very impressed and would recommend this project to anyone thinking of going into healthcare, as it does teach you a lot (especially in the Dental Surgery department). Everyone I met at the hospital was very friendly and happy to answer my questions and by the end of my two weeks here, I was sorry to leave. One thing I would also say about the project, however, is that it seemed to me more like a work experience placement than a volunteering project. This is because there was little scope to help others, as the most we could do was assist on a very basic level and even this was very rare. The focus was therefore on furthering your own knowledge through observing, rather than first hand experience, which to be fair was made clear by PMGY in all the information they provided before and after I signed up.
As the project did not run on the weekends, we were free to do some independent travelling and these provided yet more great memories. With people that had now become my friends, we would plan where we wanted to go, book our accommodation and hit the road, all with recommendations and help from fellow volunteers and staff. This was another really fun part of the trip, as we had total control over what we did and where we went. Unsurprisingly, beaches were a common theme for weekend trips. With all the shops, bars and places to eat that came with the sun, sea and sand, it was hard not to have a good time. In fact, I would often also go to another, nearer beach after I finished my project at the hospital, as it was only about 45 minutes from the volunteer house and travel there and back would usually cost less than £1.
All in all, this was an outstanding trip. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, which I am not in a hurry to forget about. PMGY are amazing; every member of that company I encountered, be they in London or Sri Lanka, were exactly the type of people you would want to be around and have support you.

How can this program be improved?

The accommodation at River House could be improved, and this would have made the trip faultless. I do understand that I was amongst the first to move into the new volunteer house and so it is natural to have had some issues at this early stage. I want to also say that I regret not informing Ashika or a member of his team of these areas I feel could be improved whilst I was in the country so that they could be fixed sooner. The rooms where I was staying were cramped and there was little room for anything other than the beds. The room I was sleeping in (at Villa House in the River House complex) can't have been more than 8 square metres and had two bunk beds. Fortunately, there were only three of us sleeping in the room and we only had two suitcases, as one of us was sharing a suitcase with his girlfriend in another room. This was just about comfortable. However, the beds were certainly not comfortable. The mattresses were thin layers of foam and I, as well as others I spoke to, could clearly feel the structure beneath us, be it a wooden sheet or wooden bars.
The other area of the accommodation in which an improvement would have gone a long way was the food. The majority of the time, I (and a fair chunk of the volunteers I was around) preferred buying food from outside. This was not the end of the world, as by Western prices, the food in Sri Lanka was very cheap. However, bearing in mind that we had paid for the food provided by the volunteer house and we were then also buying food to replace it, I feel this should not really have been happening. This is a shame, but it did mean we could taste more, authentic Sri Lankan food.

Thea
Female

Teen 2 week adventure & volunteer programme

10/10

The 2 weeks I spent in Sri Lanka with PMGY were amazing and such an incredible experience. This was down to my groups great coordinators - Steph and Anthony, Colby, Ashika and their continued support throughout the trip. But also the activities and volunteering work we were doing. Each trip or working day was planned out and all transport was provided to get us there and back. This made the trip far more enjoyable as you didn't have to worry about navigating Sri Lanka yourself.
The accommodation was clean and the 'sisters' cooked all the food for everyone - it always tasted amazing! Pre-departure organisation and communication was great so I knew just what to expect, however I would recommend bringing a blanket or sheet with you to sleep with. You may think Sri Lanka is hot but when the AC is on in the bedrooms at night it can sometimes get a bit chilly. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend PMGY and hope to do a longer trip with them in the future.

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Naomi

Volunteer and Adventure

10/10

This trip was so well organised and there was always someone with you wherever you go so you always feel safe. All the activities are so well thought out and things that you would never get to do unless on a trip like this so they were all enjoyed by everyone!
The co-ordinators (Steph and Anthony) were so fun and down to earth and felt like they were apart of the group, which was so good as it then didn't end up feeling like a school trip.
The pre-departure information was very helpful and they are always there to answer your questions and help as much as they can.
The first week of doing the different projects was so much fun as you get a taster of all the different projects, especially the teaching as the kids were so excited and grateful for you being there!
The second week we got to see so much of the country and experience loads of different things such as the safari, a hike and chilling on a beach.
The food cooked by the sisters is very yummy, especially the noodles! (they were a huge favourite by everyone).
It was an amazing two weeks and would go back and do it all over again if i could!

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Jasmine
Female
16 years old
England
Other

Plan My Gap Year Sri Lankan experience (16-17 year olds)

10/10

The volunteering and adventure trip was superb!
The first week consists of volunteering in Ambalangoda and it involves teaching, construction, elephants and turtles. If I had to choose my favourite it would be either elephants or teaching. Having such a close encounter with the elephants was awe inspiring but I really miss all of the children we had the opportunity to teach. The volunteering felt very rewarding and at the end of it everyone on the trip felt as if we had accomplished something.
The accommodation is clean and comfortable, but if you are planning on going remember to bring a sheet as there are no covers. Everything you need is catered for. During the first week there are different activities every night such as meditation lessons and Sri Lankan dancing. I
loved all of them! The meals are all cooked by the sisters and they are delicious- especially the pancakes.
The following week was amazing. We did so much it would take hours to list it all, but highlights included a safari and a hike (both very early starts) as well as visiting beautiful temples and the stunning beaches of Marissa. The hotels are lovely- some of them even had four poster beds!
The staff are brilliant. They put so much effort into ensuring the trip is a success and are genuinely wonderful people.
If you are thinking about going on this trip I would stop thinking and start booking. It was the best two weeks and I am so happy to have done it.

How can this program be improved?

No improvements.

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martha
Female
17 years old
London
Other

Volunteer and Adventure

10/10

PMGY's 'Volunteer and Adventure' trip was AMAZING!

The pre-departure support was very good and responses were always fast and helpful.

The first week of the programme was very well structured and we were always kept busy. It was great to be able to try out all of the different projects. There was really fun evening entertainment which was a great way to experience Sri Lankan culture (dancing on the roof was a particular highlight!) The volunteer accommodation was also so nice and we were very well fed and looked after by the sisters.

The second week was all very well organised and all the accommodation was great. Again, we were very busy but it was great to see so many different aspects of Sri Lanka.

All of the in country coordinators were absolutely amazing and so so friendly and helpful. Anthony and Steph were available 24/7, always smiling and are genuinely such amazing people. Steph had done the trip twice before and had lots of great info about all the places we visited which was nice. Our drivers, Jaga and Babbi, were amazing as well.

Everything about this trip was perfect. Seeing as it was only two weeks it was more an opportunity for us to get a feel for what the volunteer projects that PMGY run are like, instead of actually creating lasting change and so that is why the impact rating is slightly lower (however im sure in the long term we have all been inspired to go on and volunteer so it definitely had an impact in that sense!)

How can this program be improved?

Only improvement that could have been made would have been to have had something to do on the first Saturday when we all arrived to help us get to know each other but I can see why that would be difficult with different arrival times and it wasn't a huge problem.

About The Provider

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Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) is an award-winning international volunteer placement organisation based in the UK. We provide the worlds most affordable, need-driven and supportive short-term volunteer programmes across Africa & Asia. Our programmes start from just one weeks in duration right up to six

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