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!