Join the Elephant Freedom Project in Sri Lanka

Company : Volunteers at Work
Activities: Wildlife holidays / Animal Volunteer Projects / Conservation Projects / Community Projects
Country: Sri Lanka
Location : Kegalle, Sri Lanka
Duration: < 1 week to 1 Year+
Approx Costs: 50 to 2500 £ Pound (UK)

A day in the life of a Sri Lankan elephant who is not being used for working nor riding. Visit us and experience a special elephant encounter which is suitable for young and old, families, couples and single travelers.

Visit us and experience a special elephant encounter which is suitable for young and old, families, couples and single travelers. This is your chance to get a memorable impression of a day in the life of a lucky Sri Lankan captive elephant who is not being used for working nor riding.

We offer an exclusive experience. To keep a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere for the elephant(s) and you, we limit the amount of visitors per day. For this reason you need to make a booking in advance. Almost all we do is centered around our adorable elephants Manika and Seetha.

Manika is nearly 40 years old and used to work in the wood logging industry. She has been doing this hard work for over 30 years before we rescued her. When she first arrived at the project she was an angry and aggressive lady. Within two days at our project she visibly calmed down and since she is getting more and more relaxed by the day. Manika still gets a little anxious when being touched except whilst having a bath  in the river. She is a great elephant and the interaction is totally safe.  

At the end of March we welcomed Seetha. She is a lady elephant and like Manika also about 40 years old. Seetha has been working in the tourist industry for a long time. She was used by tourists to ride on her. We will have to see if Manika and Seetha get along, if they do we hope Seetha will stay with us forever.

Seetha has been at our project before, in July last year. That time she had a very bad mahout (elephant keeper) and we couldn't deal with that person. He was hitting her and was drinking alcohol and smoking while being with her. We told Seetha's owner that we really liked the elephant but didn't see a future for her mahout at the project. At that time the owner decided to choose for the mahout and Seetha had to leave the project.

This time Seetha has a new mahout and it's time for a second chance. Our greatest wish is to give a better life to all of these wonderful animals. We are actively searching to get more elephants to live with us, however it is very difficult.


  • Personalised guide for your whole tour.
  • At least a 1 1/2 hour walk with Manika and Seetha watching and observing them whilst learning about Sri Lankan elephants
  • Bathing the elephants in the river for about 1 hour, with only your group without other tourists
  • No tricks are being performed by our elephants
  • Authentic Sri Lankan cooking lesson
  • A second long walk on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Meet the kids from the local school on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
  • Lunch and tea included
  • Whole experience last around 7-8 hours

*activies above are subject to change

Your day starts with being welcomed by our local Sri Lankan family or coordinator in their beautiful house with a nice cup of tea.

After a short introduction you can help mocking out the elephant enclosure before joining the elephant(s) on the daily morning walk. It is very important for elephants to get plenty of exercise. This walk is guided by the keeper (mahout) who is the only one who can control the elephant.

When the elephant(s) are back in the enclosure it is time for us to have a well deserved break. After the break you can enjoy the authentic Sri Lankan cooking lesson in the kitchen of the local family. 

In the early afternoon you go washing Manika and/or Seetha in the nearby river before we go on the second walk of the day.

On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays you can join us when we go to a local school for English conversation. This is a lot of fun and helps the children to improve their English skills. This concludes the day visit. If you stay for the night now it’s time to relax and later enjoy the evening meal.

All activities are done at your leisure and if you'd rather sit back, relax and simply enjoy watching Manika and Seetha, that is no problem either. We offer additional activities and excursions such as yoga classes and trips to interesting must see places both world famous and off the beaten track. Ask us for more information.


Price indication (please ask for the latest accurate prices)

  • 1 Day - £70 ($108)
  • 2 Days - £140 ($216)
  • 3 Days - £210 ($323)
  • 4 Days - £280 ($431)
  • 1 Week - £400 ($616)
  • 2 Weeks - £700 ($1078)
  • 3 Weeks - £850 ($1309)
  • 4 Weeks - £1000 ($1540)
  • 5 weeks - £1075 ($1656)
  • 6 Weeks - £1150 ($1771)


Why we started the Elephant Freedom Project

We are situated in Sri Lanka and are trying to improve the life of captive elephants. As animal lovers we didn't like witnessing the hardship we were seeing; day in, day out the same suffering and nothing we could do about it. We strive to create an environment without the usual abuse and hardship that goes on so often.

We started thinking, what if we could create a place where the elephants don’t have to work? What if we could start a project where the elephants are free from being ridden and being a tourist attraction? What if we can have a place where they are happy, walk around freely, drink when they want, can play, get excellent care and all the love we can give? These are our goals, however our road is very difficult with many set backs and we are far from where we would like to be. We are still a very young project, we have just opened October 2013 and are very determined towards change and with your help we are slowly -but steadily- getting there!

We are the only place in Sri Lanka that tries to improve the lives of privately owned elephants without offering rides or any other elephant entertainment. The Elephant Freedom Project is the alternative to all these places where elephants are still used as a tourist attraction usually accompanied by animal cruelty.

Start Dates

One day minimum with no maximum. The longer you stay the less it costs.

Costs / Benefits

Included in your regular volunteer project fee
- A shared room at the homestay
- Three meals a day Monday to Friday (weekends are free for volunteers that like to explore the island)
- Transport from and to the airport
- Full orientation on your first project day
- Visit the nearby rice fields and waterfall
- In-country support and 24h emergency assistance
- Assistance for visa renewal
- Travel advice and help in arranging trips

*the above is subject to change


Love animals and be ready for an amazing time. We welcome anyone of any age. Groups are also very welcome.

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