Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $270

Video and Photos

Climbing up Lion's Rock
Climbing up Lion's Rock
Views from River House
Views from River House
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Old Tsunami School
Old Tsunami School
Sri Lankan Elephant
Sri Lankan Elephant
Ambalangoda
Ambalangoda
Train to Galle
Train to Galle
River house sunset
River house sunset

About

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 childcare, dog rescue, elephant, English teaching, medical, mental health & turtle conservation opportunities.

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.

Highlights
  • Most Affordable – PMGY’s programs are accessible to everyone who wants to make a difference, through low fees and high-impact projects.
  • Best Support – Our international and local teams provide extensive around the clock services to assist you every step of your PMGY adventure.
  • Safety Prioritised – With safety a PMGY number-1 priority, we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure our programs are as safe and structured as possible.
  • Extraordinary Experiences – With PMGY, you have the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in amazing cultural and travel experiences, ensuring you leave with unforgettable memories.
  • Friendships for Life – Your PMGY experience not only opens up a doorway for new experiences and exciting memories, but also life-long friendships when meeting new people from around the world.

Popular Programs

sri-lanka-elephant

If you love elephants you will love this! Elephants in their natural habitat combined with meaningful research represent a perfect match!

sri-lanka-teaching

Teach novice Buddhist monks or children displaced by the Tsunami. English is a valuable skill that will greatly enhance their future career prospects.

sri-lanka-childcare

On this uncrowded, exotic and developing island there are many vulnerable children in much need of volunteer's care and support.

sri-lanka-medical

Gain invaluable medical experience, an opportunity not to be missed in this gorgeous part of the world by those pursuing a career in medicine.

sri-lanka-family

Do something different and amazing with your family and give back to a local Sri Lankan community whilst immersing yourselves in the culture and lifestyle.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 99 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 91 - 99 of 99
Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SRI LANKA LOVE!

The best thing about PMGY In Sri Lanka was how relaxed and felxible it was! I thought i had just signed up for the turtle project but one morning i took part in the elephant project and most afternoons i helped at the school. I wanted to make the most of my stay and PMGY Sri Lanka helped me to do this!

The turtle project was my favourite experience. The work was really hands on and practical and unlike some volunteer projects you really feel like you are helping and making a difference! You can easily spend a whole day there cleaning tanks, talking to the turtles and medicating and feeding them. The local coodinator Saniru does a great job!

The food is also amazing. Its mostly all Sri Lankan style dishes and lots of curries. But its incredible. Just go for it and try everything its part of the experience! Its all cooked by the local lady who comes to cook 3 times a day for all the volunteers. She is so lovely to talk to and works so hard! I wish i could cook like her! (Go out for food if you want a dish from closer to home, pizza, pasta ect... although i enjoyed the homemade curries more!)

The local coordinators are so helpful (im glad PMGY support local employment) they are great to chat to and are always around to help with anything! Especially booking hotels for travelling at the weekends or booking tuk tuks (because they can obviously speak the local language which helps a lot) but also having Josh the english coodinator is very nice too! They all work so hard to help make sure you have the best time)

You live very closely with everyone in a very comfortable volunteer house (again better than i thought it would be)
Any problems will get sorted out so quickly so tell them as soon as there is one. Even in my short 2 week stay i have made friends i will never forget.

Minimum stay should be 3 weeks for the best experience. You will not want to go home! Thankyou!!!

What would you improve about this program?
none :)
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Take me back

Sri Lanka was without a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am 23 and have a full time job as well as a volunteer role in England and I needed something different.
I travelled to Sri Lanka for three weeks on my own not really knowing what to expect and I had the trip of a life time! I made some amazing friends and memories and I'm sitting here typing this wishing I could go back right now!
I worked on the elephant project which was so interesting - I came from waking up and walking my dog at home to waking up and walking a cheeky elephant every day!
Apart from working with raja the elephant, we had trips to temples, a boat trip where I held a monkey and a baby crocodile and refused to put my feet in with a LOT of fish, I had the chance to go to the turtle sanctuary and release turtles on the beach at night with everyone. Attempt to beat someone who thinks he is a champion at badminton (and fail miserably), swim in the sea for hours on end and relax on the beautiful sandy beaches (it's a paradise).
The weekends gave us the opportunity to go out and explore the amazing country and culture in groups. My first weekend saw 10 girls singing very loudly in a minivan on a trip to Kandy with woodcarving, sari wearing, tea factory visits, dance show, elephant riding and temple visits and my second weekend a trip to Marissa for whale watching and Yala for a safari and even a trip to Colombo in between.
A review can't even describe the amazing memories I have made. Advice to anyone considering going would be GO you won't regret it, I wish I had stayed for longer and got to do a hell of a lot more things.
Plan my gap year are a fabulous company to travel with and offer amazing experiences, the choices of projects and friendly atmosphere makes it the perfect trip to anyone travelling on their own or with friends from anywhere in the world no matter what age or range of travel experience.

Lily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience and wonderful hosting in Sri Lanka!

On arrival in Sri Lanka I found out that my baggage has been lost in transit and was very stressed as a result! But thankfully the in-country coordinater Ashika was there to greet me and sort everything out for me (I had my bag brought to me within 2 days) and I was immediately reassured that I was in great hands.
From then on, everything was wonderful. From Ashika's family who we stayed with to the other volunteers, to the food to the amazing kids at the Tsunami project where I taught English. Not to mention the beautiful beaches, temples and safari parks I was given the opportunity to explore!

I would honestly recommend this project to anyone, especially if you love learning about new cultures, religions and people. Although Ambalangoda is a small town, it is so cheap and easy to get to bigger places around and being in a small town really makes you feel like your in 'real' Sri Lanka. At the same time there's plenty of other English speaking volunteers to go for a drink with and loads of extracurricular activities get organised for example we had a great England VS Sri Lanka Cricket match!

Also, I had no teaching experience whatsoever and absolutely LOVED teaching the kids at the Tsunami project, they were so full of life and welcoming. It really was an unforgettable experience spending 4 weeks teaching them. I didn't want to leave Sri Lanka and really look forward to going back some day soon.

Plan My Gap Year are a fantastic organisation who unlike other companies, make sure the money you are paying to volunteer is used wisely and always ensure that you feel useful, safe and at ease. Go Sri Lanka!! :)

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Dalsy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sri Lanka 2012

I had such a good experience with Plan My Gap Year. This was my first time travelling alone, so obviously I had a lot of questions- they were always answered quickly by Philip, who is an email-replying superhuman and really easy to contact!

The project itself was amazing. I got to visit various different places, ranging from teaching English to teenage girls to giving swimming lessons to special needs students, all of which were very well-run and good fun. I spent most of my time at the orphanage (out of choice, the coordinator Janaka - the nicest man in the world by a mile - is happy for you to do pretty much whichever combinations you like) and found it to be incredibly worthwhile. The kids were so lovely and hugely affectionate, and it really felt like we were making a big difference just by going in to play with them.

We lived with Janaka at his house - the rooms are all nice, mostly you share with 2 or 3 others, and you have your own bathroom in each room. All the food is provided.

Sri Lanka itself is beautiful and such a fun place. There's a lot to see - I wish I'd had more time - all your weekends are free, work finishes by 5 if you want to go out for the evening, and we got a long lunch break for a bit of sunbathing.

All in all my trip couldn't have been better and Plan My Gap Year were just fantastic. I'd love to volunteer again soon, and when I do it'll definitely be with them

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Noémie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience!

I have to say that my experience of being a volunteer in Sri Lanka has been wonderful on every aspects. I received even more support from then I could of asked for, both from the UK office and the Sri Lanka team. This program puts you in the heart of the Sri Lankan culture, but always providing secure local transport and doing everything they could to facilitate our experience in this new country. I loved how I was given the opportunity to add an afternoon project in addition to the sea turtle conservation project in the morning. I absolutly loved the teaching project and it gave me the opportunity to discover that I enjoy working with kids and would like to persue it in future volunteer projects. It was an extremely rewarding feeling to teach english to those students, that are so eager to learn. I would recommand this project to anyone who os looking to do rewarding work, on the community and personnal level, as well of having a fun and secure experience

Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Elephant experience Sri Lanka

From the moment I booked with pmgy they have given me a lot of support and information about the country and what to expect. Obviously you never take in fully the information until you are there experiencing it. Reading the handbook does basically tell you what to expect fully and it was pretty much the experience they told me about.
From landing at colombo airport to being dropped back there the co ordinators/drivers have been so helpful and polite.
The house I stayed in (new house) was basic yes,but I wasn't expecting 5* to begin with. The sisters was very helpful and always prepared beautiful meals (chip night is a winner). If I needed anything extra like an extra mattress or extra fan this was no trouble for them and the co ordinators sorted it.
I did the elephant experience for the 4 weeks I was there but did an extra few days volunteering with the turtles and also the teaching project. Every project I did was amazing. Being with elephants was a once in a lifetime experience. From feeding and washing them to scooping there poop it will be an experience I will never forget. The baby turtles were possibly one of the cutest things ever and the project they run at the sanctuary is an amazing experience. I was so happy that all the babies and disabled turtles were being looked after properly. I only had 1 day teaching but I could see how much this project was helping the children to learn English.
If I was to give any advice to people wanting to join a project on pmgy is go for it 100% and enjoy every munite you have there because it will be over in a flash. Also read the handbook it will tell you what to expect and what happens there.
My 4 weeks in Sri Lanka was one of the best experiences of my life and I couldn't thank the co ordinators, sisters, drivera and pmgy for that! I will definitely go back for sure!!

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Orin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PMGY Real Sri Lanka Experience

I had a great time on this program.

The most memorable story I have is getting to the top of Little Adam's Peak. It's memorable for a number of reasons. Firstly, I struggled so much with climbing Lion's Rock that I had to abandon it very soon into the climb. It felt quite disappointed with myself. So being able to get to the top of Little Adam's Peak was a wonderful way to feel better about myself. And secondly because the views are simply so stunning from the summit. It was well worth the climb and hard work! In addition to that, there was a little Hindu temple perched along the mountain side and our climb was beautifully scored by the sounds of hymns and drums and symbols- it was. Truly surreal experience. Also dodging the odd cow on the mountain was another fun aspect of the climb!

What would you improve about this program?
I would have really liked to visit a few local families in the villages we were going through in Polannaruwa. We bough sweets and stationary for the children but it would have been so much better if we could actually go into the villages and see their homes and how they lived their day to day lives and ask them about it.
Dion
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

I had a fantastic time taking part in the 'Real Experience' trip. Would definitely recommend for people who want to see more of Sri Lanka whilst volunteering. It was great value for money as all of our meals and accommodation were paid for. It was such a great opportunity, ideal for first time travellers. Would not recommend to people looking to go out and party, it is limited and the coordinaters come with you on week nights, which is understandable due to safety.

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Sarah
6/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Good on paper, flawed in reality

PMGY looked very appealing based on Internet and Facebook reviews, the email
Communication was prompt and email communication good. However upon arrival, it was chaos. Their in no planning and preparation, our group size (34) was too big, therefore lots of hanging around waiting and divided choices on what to do, eat etc. PMGYs greed outweighs the experience. As I departed Sri Lanka, a group of 46 arrived. The projects are oversubscribed so therefore less time volunteering and less to do, however I have heard that the orphanage is very rewarding, but I would not recommitment the elephant EXPERIENCE it's just glofied exploitation, they are not retired and disabled as advertised but going back to work. We actually witnessed
Animal cruelty of unnecessary force whilst we were there which they tried to hide from us.
Moving on, the dietary requirements are appalling, you fill in your form months in advance yet they have no clue when you arrive and have not catered for you you just have to avoid certain things and hope for the best, resulted in one girl having a reaction to peanuts and one guy consuming gluten. When they book the Maldives trip they don't ask about meal requirements regardless if you tell them and when you make them
Aware the response is, so it's only a short flight. The U.K. Side is not good but the Sri Lanka is really passionate and thank god they actually cares about their country and the programme unlike the contact who runs it in the uk who wants to line their pockets and remain on their high horse, telephone communications with the U.K. Boss are unpleasant serval of us found and they are incredibly defensive about prices, to cover up their vast profit margins. The trip was good, two weeks travelling two weeks "volunterring" but I would not go with PMGY again, nor recommend it.

Response from Plan My Gap Year

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for taking the time to outline feedback on your recent trip to Sri Lanka.

You joined the University of Leeds trip which was a specific experience put on for the University. I can assure you that with a group this large there is a lot of preparation put into the whole trip. I joined the trip for the first 2 days and everything appeared to go according to plan. The transport operated smoothly, the hotels were all prepared, the buffets at the restaurants were all prepared. This is the first feedback I have been made aware of that there was ‘no planning and preparation’. We did not receive any feedback from you to suggest that you were unhappy and other participants have described the trip as ‘a life changing experience’. Naturally with a group size of 34 participants there are going to be logistical challenges but I feel like we manage the process very well and we always have UK and local staff on-hand to resolve any issues you may face.

Your point regarding dietary requirements is valid and is something we can certainly look to improve. Any participant requirements are sent over to our local team at the time of booking but may be this should be re-inforced a few days before arrival. We will certainly take this on board and implement a new information management system around this to help improve this aspect of the in-country experience and continue to encourage participants to actively stay close with our local teams around their dietary requirements being catered for.

There was an unfortunate incident with the elephant on the experience programme. This was essentially down to one mahout in Sri Lanka but ultimately we have taken responsibility for his actions and our in-country team have addressed this issue directly with the mahout. I believe we reacted to the situation well and our team in-country tried to resolve the issues and communicate these to you and the group accordingly. Our elephant experience is a unique programme and has received some amazing feedback over the past couple of years. The programme is approved by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department and is regularly audited by the government. We do not exploit the elephant(s) on this programme nor do we allow any commercial activities such as elephant riding to take place and our core aim of the experience is to provide them with daily care and attention.

It does surprise me that you suggest our ‘greed outweighs the experience’. The feedback we get from Sri Lanka is overwhelmingly positive and we are very confident in saying the price of the whole experience is significantly cheaper than any other organisation for the inclusiveness we offer. I do disagree when you comment that ‘we try to line our pockets and remain on our high horse’ and ‘boss are unpleasant several of us found and they are incredibly defensive about prices’. This may correlate with the conversation regarding a private room for the Maldives trip? Private options across our accommodations are never guaranteed and I believe Ashika made every effort to provide you with a private room where they could (there was no additional fee) and so did myself when I emailed you to confirm I had put in the request with our local team in the Maldives and then I email you to confirm that we have secured you a private room (no additional fee). I think this is a situation where we have gone ‘above and beyond’ to ensure you get the most from the experience – other participants could have raised issues that you were provided a private room and they were not in this instance. There was then no further correspondence back from you to me on this and instead I feel that you have decided to single me out in this review.

At no point did you email me back to thank me for arranging this and instead you have decided to single me out on this review. Judging from the Facebook activity I have seen you and the group generally had a very positive experience that we provide the platform for with pictures of the Maldives trip and elephant experience as part of this. We do appreciate the feedback you have provided and will work constructively with this and we would like to wish you all the best for the future.

Best regards

Philip Russell