Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Your driver will collect you from the airport in Colombo and transport you to your overnight accommodation. Take some time to relax and unwind until you are met at the hotel by your local guide who will accompany you on a food tour of Colombo for the remainder of the afternoon.

Maneuver your way through the narrow streets and crowded markets stopping along the way to indulge in delicious street-fare. Be sure to try the Kottu Rotti, a traditional Sri Lankan dish similar to a stir fry and served with a naan-like flatbread. Your guide, a lifelong resident of the city, is brimming with knowledge and will introduce you to the cuisine, the locals, and the culture of this fascinating city.

Overnight Residence by Uga Escapes

Day 2

Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the hotel this morning before packing your bags and meeting up with your guide for the day.

Today, you will see the Sri Lankan countryside from the window of a train as you and your guide make your way to Kandy. Formerly called the Kingdom of Kandy, this historic city was once home to a number of different kings and royal families. Grand architecture, neoclassical beauty, and colonial influences are what set it apart from the other cities on the island. This afternoon, visit the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth set against the shores of Kandy Lake. In the afternoon, meet the local family you’ll be staying with for your homestay experience. This is a great opportunity to immerse into Sri Lankan culture, learn from the locals, and enjoy some homemade treats in their home.

Overnight Homestay

Day 3

After breakfast, bid your hosts goodbye and begin your journey towards Sigiriya. En route, visit the 2000-year-old Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a sprawling system of caverns filled with intricate cave paintings and beautiful monuments to Buddha and his life.

Continue on to Sigiriya where you will check into your accommodation at the luxurious Vil Uyana Lodge. Spend some time relaxing and unpacking as you will be here for the next two nights.

Overnight Vil Uyana

Day 4

Join your guide early this morning on an adventure to the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya. Also known as Lion Rock, this marvelous fortress was once home to King Kashyapa and served has his impenetrable hideaway. Climb the 1200 steps to the top of the fortress and be rewarded with sprawling views of the forests and towns below.

Continue on your journey to the ancient Ritigala Monastery. This monastery dates back to the first century BCE and is tucked away in the dense mountain forests. Your guide will pass along the legends and stories surrounding this ancient monument as you meander your way through the forest on one of many meditation pathways. You may also choose to partake in some meditation yourself as you sit and listen to the quiet hum of the forest.

Return to the lodge at Sigiriya that evening for dinner and a well-earned rest.

Overnight Vil Uyana

Day 5

After breakfast at your hotel you will be driven to Wasgamuwa, home of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. Here, you will spend the week helping the staff with various tasks. Check in at Pussellayaya Field House, your home for the week, and take some time to relax and refresh before your afternoon activities. Today you will be helping the naturalists with elephant observations at the Weheragala Reservoir.

Tasks will include observing elephants in the field and recording and organizing data. After the day of volunteering, you’ll have dinner with other volunteers and researchers. You can then enjoy some to relax, watch movies, socialize, or head to bed early as you have another big day tomorrow!

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 6

Today, you may be helping with bird population studies or assisting with elephant foraging research depending on the time of year. Take a break from noon to 2:00 pm — the hottest time of the day — before returning to the reservoir for another round of elephant observations. Return to the center for another evening of communal meals and relaxing.

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 7

You will start your morning much like you did yesterday with birding and foraging studies before relaxing during the lunchtime hours. This afternoon you may choose to do elephant observations at the reservoir or head to the Wasgamuwa Corridor to conduct animal conflict studies.

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 8

Today you will help the staff with Project Orange Elephant Villages. This project works to monitor the nearby orange crops and helps mitigate human/elephant conflicts in populated areas. Learn how habitat encroachment has impacted the elephant population and what the wildlife service is doing to better protect the elephants. This afternoon you may continue with elephant observations or help input data from previous observation trips.

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 9

Wake up early this morning to help the staff with bird population studies before heading out to the villages to conduct human/elephant conflict surveys. These surveys help the conservancy better understand the elephant’s migration patterns and how often they wander into population centers. In the afternoon you may continue with your elephant studies or discuss other options with the staff.

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 10

Today is your last full day volunteering with the conservation project. Assist with elephant foraging studies or log information from the previous day’s bird study this morning before breaking for lunch. Finish your day by going to see the elephants one last time and take some time to reflect on your experience. Head back to the center for your last night in Wasgamuwa.

Overnight Pussellayaya Field House

Day 11

Say your goodbyes after breakfast, then climb into your vehicle for a your transfer to Kotugoda.

Tonight you are staying at the beautiful Wallawwa Lodge, a traditional manor house built during the British colonial period. Enjoy the tranquil gardens and the beautiful architecture as you unwind and prepare for your journey home.

Overnight The Wallawwa, Kotugoda

Day 12

After breakfast, your driver will collect you and your luggage from the hotel and transport you to the airport for your flight home.