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Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka

Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka

Want to be a Sea Turtle Conservation volunteer in Sri Lanka? International Volunteer HQ’s Sea Turtle Conservation project gives volunteers the chance to help rehabilitate injured turtles and boost conservation around the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Volunteers will gain conservation and reptile care experience while assisting with a wide range of tasks that contribute to the goal of increasing the turtle population in the area so these incredible creatures can thrive well into the future.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from £614 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help endangered sea turtles thrive and survive

  • Explore Sri Lanka’s beautiful natural environment

  • Stay with other volunteers five minutes from the beach

Key information

Regenerate populations of endangered turtles
Based in Ambalangoda
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from £614 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 4 weeks
Project aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Up to 4 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

This project is open to all volunteers with an interest in conserving sea life and is well suited for those who are prepared to work hard and don’t mind getting dirty.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The Indian Ocean is a popular area for sea turtles to live and breed in, however the turtle population in coastal areas is struggling to combat the effects of climate change and human development. Volunteers can assist with conservation efforts that contribute to the overarching goal of increasing the turtle numbers in the area.

On the Sea Turtle Conservation project you’ll be based in the town of Ambalangoda, volunteering on conservation projects that are certified by the Sri Lankan government. In fact, there are 22 turtle conservations in Sri Lanka and we have the only government certified project which does not allow tourist visits only for our volunteers.

Your focus will be caring for turtles and promoting conservation and recycling awareness in the local community. Your tasks can include:

  • Cleaning turtles and their tanks
  • Sourcing and preparing food
  • Feeding the turtles
  • Assisting with beach cleaning
  • Maintaining hatcheries
  • Relocating eggs to protect them from predators
  • Releasing hatchlings

Duties are often seasonal so will depend on the time of year you’re in Sri Lanka. It’s important to be flexible and open to helping wherever it’s required.

The local team are very enthusiastic about the project and do require volunteers to also be passionate about helping turtles. It’s important to be open minded and willing to get involved in the day to day tasks. This can include handling and cutting fish to feed the turtles, outdoor physical work and other hand ons tasks while at the placement.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

Why do Turtle Conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka with IVHQ?

When you volunteer with turtles in Sri Lanka you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping to boost the turtle population
  • Caring for marine life and the environment
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining conservation experience
  • Immersing yourself in Sri Lankan culture
  • Exploring Sri Lanka’s beautiful southern coast

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • To respect the local culture and customs in Sri Lanka, volunteers should be aware that they’re unable to have anything obstructing their face while at their volunteer placement.
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

AP
Amy Perkins
24 Jan 2024

This program was the most amazing thing I have ever done, and I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in it. It is so eye-opening being immersed in another culture, particularly being guided by the locals adds a deeper sense of learning. The turtle conservation program was so special, and very rewarding being able to give back to the local wildlife and community. I would 100% recommend people to join the program, I am already looking into doing more with IVHQ!

...
SS
Sophia Sauer
07 Sep 2023

I grew as a person, going on a vacation alone and meeting new people is fairly character-building. I got to know many amazing people and also did some hikes on my own, which was great. We all learned from each other (about our different cultures and also about the Sri Lankan culture), we helped us out and had a great time as a group. The local team made our experience perfect, we got to see many things tourists usually don't get the chance to see, and we were surrounded by this amazing team all the time. We felt safe and had a lot of space to join in the decisions of what to do and see

...
LH
Lara Horn
04 Sep 2023

For anyone looking for a safe way to travel, this is amazing. Not only does the program help you immerse yourself in new culture but it gives you a chance to help the community! The opportunities are endless!

...
FY
Fujia Yan
04 Sep 2023

It broadened my view by providing me with a chance in which I can chat with friends from different countries, and at the same time, to gain a deeper view of a region with the local team.

...
EC
Eleonora Crespi
04 Sep 2023

I feel like I made a positive impact on the local community and also my involvement, though small, has been helpful for the people I met during my experience. Back home I realised this trip has changed my point of view on various topics and right now I’m way aware of the importance of small things and actions. At first, I can’t lie, I wasn’t so sure about volunteering - even on the plane to Colombo I was thinking that I made a mistake. But when I arrived and started my placement, I forgot about all of my concerns. This was absolutely the best decision I have made in my life and this experience will continue to live in my heart forever.

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IV
Ivaila Valcheva
06 May 2022

Sri Lanka is an incredible country; the people are friendly and welcoming, you are surrounded by beautiful wildlife from elephants to sea turtles and the volunteer programmes are worth every minute. Turtle conservation gives you the chance to feed, wash and handle disabled sea turtles, on a stunning beach with overhead palm trees. If lucky you may end up releasing baby turtles into the sea, a once in a lifetime moment. I cannot recommend this country enough, the local team made my safety their priority and ensured I saw the most Sri Lanka has to offer whilst I was there!

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To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Volunteer Abroad in Sri Lanka with IVHQ

Location

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is an island nation set off the south-east coast of India. Famous for its tea plantations, cinnamon exports and cricket rivalries, it also boasts a vast array of beaches, Buddhas and big wildlife like elephants and whales.

While Sri Lanka is a well-developed country which has made great strides towards making sure its residents don’t live in extreme poverty, there is still many places outside of the main centres where people struggle to access good quality education, healthcare and earn a decent living to support themselves and their families. Volunteers can help in these areas by providing important support to local initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life for people in these disadvantaged areas.

The Turtle Conservation project is based in the small town of Ambalangoda on the southern coast.

Arrival and orientation

Orientation is run by the local team in Kandy, beginning on the Monday morning of your start date. Volunteers on the Turtle Conservation project spend their first 5 days on the program on the Introduction week.

Introduction Week Orientation: This is a fantastic way to start your volunteer experience in Sri Lanka and gives you the time to dive deeper into the culture and activities. It will include an introduction to Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan customs, rules and expectations, safety in Sri Lanka, travel opportunities in Sri Lanka, an introduction to your volunteer project and placement, Kandy city tour, cultural show and basic Sinhala language lessons. as well as visits to a Buddhist monastery, a spice garden and the famous Temple of the Tooth. You’ll also get to take a Sri Lankan cooking class, and a Batik lesson.

Volunteer schedule example

Weekdays:

A typical volunteer day is as follows:

6:00 - 7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:30 AM - 1:30PM Volunteer work takes place throughout the morning.
1:30 PM Lunch
2:30 PM Volunteers are free to spend the afternoon relaxing, shopping and sightseeing.
9:00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.

Weekends: In the weekends volunteers are free to explore the surrounding area or travel further afield. There are many beautiful white-sand beaches nearby where you can take a moment to relax.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Turtle Conservation project in Ambalangoda are accommodated in a large volunteer house. Volunteers can expect to share rooms with up to seven other volunteers of the same gender and all bedrooms are provided with fans. The house has electricity and western style bathrooms, however showers are usually cold. It’s a five-minute walk to the local beach and the volunteering placement.

To access the internet during your program, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Sri Lanka, as WiFi is not available in the volunteer accommodation.

While you’re on the Introduction Week Orientation in Kandy you’ll be accommodated in a volunteer house. Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with four to 12 other volunteers. Private rooms are available in Kandy and is a popular option for couples or older volunteers. This option can be requested via the ‘Add ons and Tours’ section of your checklist and costs US$90 per week/per person.

Living is comfortable and all accommodation has electricity and running water. Bathrooms in the volunteer houses and homestays are all western style with a shower that has warm water, a toilet and basin. Bedding is provided which includes a pillow with pillow case and top and bottom sheets. You will need to bring a towel, toiletries including hand soap and toilet paper, and a mosquito net if you wish to sleep with one.

Families with younger children who wish to volunteer in Sri Lanka are required to book a private room at an additional cost of £76 per person, per week. If your family has more than four members, two rooms may be required to accommodate all family members.

Meals

Volunteers on the Sri Lanka program are provided with three meals a day during the week and brunch and dinner during the weekend. Breakfast includes toast, eggs, fruit, tea, coffee and milk. Sri Lankan foods served for lunch and dinner include roti bread, dhal, curries, vegetables and salads. Meat is rarely eaten except on festive occasions.

Bottled water is readily available in Sri Lanka and volunteers should budget approximately £4 per week for 2 litres per day. There are also water filters in the volunteer houses. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can discuss this with you. However, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. The local team will do their best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible. If you wish to supplement some of your meals with home comforts, there are basic kitchen facilities available to use.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks £614 Equivalent to £44/day
3 weeks £890 Equivalent to £42/day
4 weeks £1162 Equivalent to £42/day
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £277) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Sri Lanka generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.

Check what's required to visit Sri Lanka

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Population 21.8 million
Languages Sinhala and Tamil
Currency Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Time zone UTC+05:30

Weather and climate

The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperature ranges from 17°C (62.6°F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of 33 °C (91.4°F) in other low-altitude areas.

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How to get started

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