Arrive at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code CMB) and say a big Halo to Sri Lanka. Most flights into Sri Lanka arrive very late, but no worries we’ll be there to meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Arrive any time today, just make sure you have time to rest before tomorrow’s early start (consider flying in on Saturday for a more relaxing start to your trip – an extra night at a hotel with pool is only $60pp twin-share or $95 single, breakfast included)
Day 1 (Monday)
We’ll pick you up from the hotel around 6am and take you to Fort Railway Station for the Intercity Express train to the cultural hill-country capital of Kandy, an exciting journey of around 3 hours. Here you change to a bus through to the project site. Your seats are reserved in advance and refreshments will be provided during the trip.
After your long but fascinating journey, you’ll have plenty of time to kick back and relax in the beautiful surroundings of your hilltop accommodation.
Project work – often your day has an early start, around 7.30am with an extended lunch break in the heat of the day, then back to it until early evening
A wide range of individual activities are designed to achieve long term, sustainable harmony between elephants and humans in the area, and you’ll be involved in many or most of them whilst you’re here. You’ll receive in-depth training so you can hit the ground running, learning all about field techniques before you head out. The field activities include:
Tank Monitoring: Tanks are reservoirs for water storage...and elephants love them !! We visit tanks outside the National Park border in search of elephants or evidence of their recent visits (ie dung). At certain times of year we take to the water by canoe to observe elephants and to gather data.
Trail Transects: Involving hikes of up to 12kms, we’ll record the presence of dung and footprints alongside the trail. An important activity, this helps build a picture of elephant populations and movements outside the national park. Caution: During transects there is always the possibility of meeting elephants
Elephant ID: We travel in search of elephants and other wildlife, then observe and photograph them. Elephant ID data sheets are completed, the elephants identifiable by their individual physical characteristics. Through this activity we build up a catalogue of individuals and are better able to record specific movements and behaviours.
Canopy Hide: Spend an evening in a tree hut located in an elephant corridor – leave your fear of heights at home !! We record data on elephant movements in the area and details of how the villagers and elephants interact.
Mammal and Bird Surveys: Elephants are not the only wildlife here – the area is species rich, with leopards and sloth bears among a long list of residents! You will help to conduct surveys to develop species records of mammals and birds found in the area to assess their conservation status. You’ll help to set sand traps to identify species by their footprints, and check scat and pellets for their contents. Bird watching is done early in the morning and at dusk as these are the times birds are most active.
Electric Fence Monitoring & Repair: On foot, walking up to 9 kms we check the state of the solar powered electric fences erected to stop elephants from entering villages - you will help repair the fences where necessary.
Environmental Education: In the local public schools, volunteers will work with instructors to teach local rural children about environmental issues and how they can help to address them.
Data Entry: The team will spend time at the camp/field house entering the data that has been collected in the week prior and help in initial analysis. Volunteers will be expected to present a short update of results of the work they have done before their departure.
Weekends Your weekends are yours to enjoy and explore. There is so much within reach and you’ll find Sri Lanka a cheap and easy destination to travel if you so wish. Kandy is well worth a visit and there are numerous temple sites to discover too. With beaches, tea plantations, National Parks, towns and villages to explore you’ll not run short of options in Sri Lanka. Of course you’re welcome to stay put and relax if you prefer a slower pace !
Your last day (Sunday)
Oh no …… it’s time to say goodbye to paradise already. Your journey back to reality starts with a not-too-early bus to Kandy. We highly recommend a couple of nights in this wonderful hill town. From Kandy onwards you must arrange your own transport – airport taxis, buses and trains are easily arranged locally. Alternatively, a private, direct transfer to the airport is available which takes 4 hours and costs US$160.
Location, location, location! On a hilltop with incredible lake and mountain views, the project field house is basic and rustic but spacious and comfortable. Participants sleep in single-gender bunk rooms. Linen, mosquito nets and fans are provided and the bathrooms are western style with hot water showers.
Three delicious, fresh Sri Lankan-style meals are provided each day, all prepared for you by the resident cook , so expect mainly vegetarian and quite spicy fare, absolutely delicious!