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Ambalangoda - Turtle Conservation Project


Ambalangoda - Turtle Conservation Project

About Your Location

Ambalangoda is a coastal town located in Galle District, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. This little town by the ocean is a sweaty, workaday town, and not touristic. Ambalangoda is known as a Buddhist city in Sri Lanka. Ambalangoda is the place where "Masks" originated in Sri Lanka during the days of the kings and this is still thriving, although sometimes a bit modernized. In addition, the place is reputed for its golden beaches, puppet shows, devil dancing, moonstone, and antique furniture. Plantations of low country tea, rubber, coconut and cinnamon plantations and factories.

Our Turtles

There are 7 species of turtles that live in the world and out of that, 5 species of turtles live in the Indian Ocean. Our program breeds and cares for 4 different species of turtles that live in the Indian Ocean: Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley. There are around 30 disabled turtles living in the center and in a separate center we hatch hundreds of turtle eggs to be released to the ocean when born. The purpose of this organization is to give these marine animals an opportunity to survive in a safe and healthy environment. Sea Turtles are known to live around 150 years.

Helping and conserving these turtles is our highest priority. Smoking or drinking any sort of liquids as well as using sunscreen or chemicals on the parts of the skin that touches the water or turtle is strictly forbidden during project hours. Participants with open injuries in their hands should not work with turtles as infections may occur. The coordinators have a lot of experience in caring for these animals, so we ask to follow every instruction knowing it is in the turtle's best interest.

Aims & Objectives

The aim of this project is to rescue injured turtles, medicate them, and release them back into the wild. As for the injured which are not fit to be released back into the wild, are kept at the rehabilitation center and taken care. These turtles propagate and the baby hatchlings are released into the ocean, thus increasing the number of turtles in the ocean.

Weekly Schedule & Activities

Introduction Day
Your project starts with an introduction day on the first Monday including a tour of the area surrounding the accommodation, available facilities, cultural "do's and don'ts", safety concerns as well as some basic local language lessons.

Monday to Friday
The activities vary according to the beach weather conditions and the number of volunteers, but the time spent with these marvellous creatures is the main aim of our participants' involvement. This program requires dedication and support. Cleaning of the turtles, their tanks and the turtle conservation center are the things to do. It is vital to have a clean and hygienic center for these animals. You will be working from 8:30 until 13:00, after lunch at 13:15, your time is free to explore. Typical activities would include:

- Preparing food (fish) and feeding the turtles (every other day)
- Cleaning the tanks and changing water
- Cleaning the turtles
- Cleaning the beach and the turtle center - Beach cleaning takes place at the beach in front of the turtle center in an area of 200-300m. We basically clean the beach from plastic and plythene, which is a main cause of marine life extinction.
- Helping with the weekly release of over 100 newborn turtles into the ocean (depends on the weather and season).
- Sea Plant collection and feeding the turtles - this happens once or twice a month and depends on the weather and conditions of the sea.
- Sand changing - depending on the requirements, the team may decide to change the sand at the turtle hatchery
- Night Patrol - On pre-arranged days, the team will go on a night patrol along the beach to observe sea turtles nesting and laying eggs in natural environment. This usually takes place on full moon days. You will leave on the patrol at 20:30 and will continue until midnight. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to witness turtle sightings on every patrol.

We often run ‘Awareness Camps’ for groups of tourists who make a special trip to this area to see our work, and whilst with us the expertise you gain can allow you to assist in some of the instruction. We also work closely with many local and international conservation partners and regularly collect data to ensure our efforts are having the results we desire, and you will also be part of this data collection process.

Volunteers who are with us for longer than one month will also learn about the tree plantation, another area where your work can have a big long-term impact.

Please note that the schedule is subject to change according to the needs of the turtles, weather conditions, number of participants, the time of year etc.

Turtles lay eggs during the months from December to April every year. Even though it happens all year round, during these months it is very higher than in the other months.

Public Holidays

The project is closed on public holidays.

17 & 21 June
20 July
19 August
16-17 September
17 & 31 October
15 November
14 & 25 December

**New Year Holiday Week
The Orientation Week will be operating, but you will need to get your own transportation to the project.

Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

Minimum age of 18
Basic level of competency in English
Travel & medical insurance
Police Clearance Certificate on sign-up
Passport copy required on arrival
Copy of online Visa approval
Participants with body tattoos need to cover them and those who have visible piercings (not ears) must take the ring/studs/etc out while at the placement
Using sunscreen, or any kind of lotions and mosquito repellents are not allowed to be used during all our turtle conservation projects.

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.

Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.

How Long Should I Volunteer?

Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.

Culture Week

This week introduces you to the culture and people of Sri Lanka. You will be given an orientation and taught about safety, transport, religion and told about other culturally acceptable practices. You will visit several temples including the Temple of the Tooth, have an Ayurvedic massage and witness a traditional Kandyan dance performance. The Culture Week also includes language lessons, a Sri Lankan cooking lesson and learning Sri Lankan traditions by practice. Apart from all the sights you take in, this week will also have you eating lots of delicious Sri Lankan food. Please note that after the Culture Week, you will be transferred to Ambalangoda by traink. The ticket must be paid for locally.

Vad ingår?

Extra utgifter på plats


Weekends are free to relax and to explore the local area.

Our house is located 10 minutes walk away from the city center, where you can find anything you might need.
The nearest ATM and supermarket are located a 10 minute walk away from our accommodation.

Activities & Events:
There are no activities scheduled outside of our programs.

Sights & Surroundings:
Visit Sailatalarama Vihara which lies 7km inland from Ambalangoda. This temple sits on a domed hill with broad views over spice plantations and lakes towards the ranges of the Province of Sabaragamuwa. The temple has a 35m-long sleeping Buddha statue, built by donations. Pilgrims approach the dagobas and devale (a complex designed for worshipping a Hindu or local Sri Lankan deity) via 208 steps, but there’s also a road to the top.

Also visit The Ariyapala Mask Museum, with its dioramas and explanations in English, and gives an excellent insight into Sri Lankan masks and the meanings behind them. It also sells the booklet The Ambalangoda Mask Museum, a useful publication if you want to delve into the mysterious world of dance, legend and exorcism, and the psychology behind the masks.


Your accommodation is at our center which is located a few meters from the ocean. The basic, dorm style rooms are shared by 4-10 people on a single-gender basis. The rooms have fans, no air-conditioning is available. Bathroom and toilet facilities are shared, please note that only cold water is available. There is a refrigerator which you are welcome to use to store food and beverages. Safety lockers are available to store your belongings, just bring your own padlock. There is also a beautiful garden to relax in and dining and lounge areas where you can hang out with your fellow volunteers. Wi-Fi is not available (internet cafes are available close to the volunteer house and in the city). Mosquito nets, toilet paper or washing powder will not be provided by us. Accommodation is not included if arriving on a Saturday, additional nights cost EUR 43 per night.

Lokal transport

Arrival Information
If your flight arrives on Sunday between 05:00 and 21:00, we will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to the project. Look out for the coordinators holding a signboard with the Green Lion Logo on it.
If you arrive any other a day, a transfer can be requested and will cost EUR 90 per taxi, which is paid directly to the person picking you up. If we are not picking you up at the airport, you must contact us when you are in the country at the latest on the Friday before your arrival to arrange your pick-up accordingly. If you can't find the coordinator stay at the meeting point then call the coordinator.

Please note that if you arrive on Saturday your transfer is included but you will need to pay for an additional night's accommodation.

Transfer Coordinator
Mobile: (+94) 716 110 347
If you are lost or have any major concerns regarding the transfer, please try to contact the coordinator at the airport first.

Tourist Police: Dial 011-2421052
The Tourist Police of Sri Lanka are trained to assist you in English. Direct any safety concerns to them.

Departure Information
The latest check-out time from the accommodation on the last Saturday is 12:00. Departure transfer is not included as due to the many different personal plans and return flight times, it's logistically simpler for you to make your own way. Our coordinator can help you with the different transportation options, but you will have to cover the cost.


You will be provided with three meals a day on weekdays and two meals per day on weekends (we are not responsible for meals if applicants are traveling on their own during weekdays or weekends). The meals are a mix of Western and Sri Lankan food, consisting mainly of vegetarian dishes including rice and vegetables. You can also eat out at any of the local restaurants.

Breakfast menu: toast, jam, butter, eggs, two choices of fruits, tea and coffee (oat meal, cereal, yogurt, etc… will not be provided by us).

Mer information

What to Bring
Toilet paper, towels, soap, mosquito nets and mosquito repellant are NOT provided so you will have to bring these along with you. Do also take a padlock to safely store your belongings. Please also take care of malaria precautions.

Please remember to take care of the visa arrangements on time.

SIM Card
We highly recommend buying a cheap local SIM Card for your whole time in Sri Lanka, not only for your own personal safety, but also for easier and cheaper communication with the other volunteers, staff and family back home, and especially if you are traveling to us by yourself. You can usually get one at the airport for free or at a low cost.

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