Watching over 90 elephants roaming and playing together is stunning, you’ll never forget it. An amazing elephant experience at this famous Orphanage for retired, abused or orphaned elephants. The daily highlight is the walk with the herd down to the river so that they can bathe. It’s amazing to watch them splashing around and rolling in the river, just a few feet in front of you!
There are a few elements combined on this programme, making it a very interesting, varied and satisfying project, including working at Pinnawala and assisting in teaching monks and disadvantaged children at a local school. You’ll participate in the following:
- Working with the elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in the mornings, during the week,
- Bathing the elephants in the river in the afternoons, during the week
- Helping to teach disadvantaged local children and monks at a local school. This will take place one afternoon a week, but could be more or less during the time that you there because it is as needed.
Your Work at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage:
This project is an elephant experience, rather than elephant conservation … and it is an awesome experience! Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department. Today Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is under the Department of National Zoological Gardens and provides home to approx 90 orphaned elephants. The Orphanage receives lots of tourists each day.
As most of the elephants are not particularly tame, the majority of your work is more ‘behind-the-scenes’ than it is ‘hands-on’ with the elephants themselves, although you will have the opportunity to do some hands-on work. The type of work you will be involved in will include:
- Mucking out the elephant enclosures in the morning (this is hard, muddy work!)
- Helping to hose down the elephants (where necessary). This is a lot of fun and the elephants really enjoy it.
- Helping to feed the elephants
- Going out into the jungle and foraging for food for the elephants
- Keeping the project site clean and tidy
- While the mahouts are bathing the larger elephants, you will be able to relax by the river, chat to the mahouts and watch the elephants play and interact with humans and each other. This is an absolutely beautiful sight and being around these serene animals in such a beautiful setting can have a very calming effect!
- There may also be the opportunity to do other things around the orphanage, however this is subject the amount of work available at the orphanage at the time of your project.
Washing the Elephants:
In the afternoons you’ll go down to the river to wash the Elephants. The centre is approx 200m from Pinnawala. There you’ll be able to wash the elephants hands-on, using corn husks, etc. You’ll get down and dirty in the river with them – and it’s an amazing experience! You’ll spend an hour with these elephants, starting at 3.00 in the afternoon, when it’s cooler for the elephants and thus avoiding the full heat of the midday sun.
Your Work at a local School for Monks and Disadvantaged Children:
Once a week you’ll help teach Monks in a local Buddhist Temple or disadvantaged children in a rural house in the area. The children are between the ages of 5 and 13 years and classes usually range from 10 to 15 students. You will teach for about 2 hours in the afternoon usually from 3.30pm or 4.00pm depending on the morning activities. Lessons tend to be informal and you can teach them English through the medium of games, music or using a question-answer style, etc.
The school is very bright and cheerful and the work you do with them will be beneficial to them and very satisfying to you. Volunteers generally love the opportunity to mix with the children in the local community and knowledge is a two-way street as you teach them and they educate you on their culture.
Accommodation is in a privately-owned Guest House, close to the village of Pinnawala. This is a privately run guest house belonging to our Organiser, with clean but basic facilities. It is very conveniently located because you are close to the project and also close to Pinnawala Village, which is a local hub of food shops, restaurants and banks.
You’ll share a bedroom (with one other volunteer). Each bedroom has access to a private Western bathroom, but there is no hot water and the showers are cold water showers, which are very refreshing when you’ve spent a hard day in the Sri Lankan sun. (The climate is predominantly hot and humid for most of the year.) There is a communal living area which is available for you to use, at time of writing it has a TV and DVD player, as well as a CD player which you can relax in during the evenings.
Wi-Fi / Internet: There is Internet available in the Guest House, but no telephone.
Pinnawala Village is a short distance from the accommodation (3 kilometres) if you are looking for entertainment. It has restaurants and bars, food shops, as well as an ATM machine and banks. There are buses and taxis within walking distance of the accommodation, which you can catch into Pinnawala. Alternatively, you can walk into the village during daylight hours. The owner and his staff are very friendly and will ensure that you feel at home!
FOOD: Food is provided (3 meals a day) and consists of typical Sri Lankan dishes, except for breakfast where there is a Western choice. The guesthouse can cater for special diets and a packed lunch can be provided if you want to stay out all day.
WHAT YOU’LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT
- An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience this amazing Asian culture first-hand!
- New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
- An understanding of the plight of elephants in Sri Lanka and the important contribution it is making to its wildlife.
- The enormous satisfaction of helping these awesome animals and knowing that you made a difference to them
- An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
- An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
- Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
- Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
- And best of all … an unforgettable experience!