IN & AROUND WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK
PMGY Sri Lanka Elephant Conservation volunteers are based on the outskirts of the beautiful National Park in Wasagmuwa. The National Park is situated in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts.
Wasgamuwa is one of the many magnificent National Parks of Sri Lanka and is famous for its large number of elephant herds. Not only is the Wasgamuwa National Park rich with these graceful giants, but it’s also is home to over 20 species of mammals. Among the commonly spotted creatures are the purple-faced langur, toque macaque, water buffalo and Sri Lankan axis deer. It is also identified as an IBA (Important Bird Area).
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
Located in the centre of the island, surrounded by green hills, Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka and there is a direct bus from the local town. The city hosts the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site. The picturesque central lake on the other side of town offers a more relaxed feel than the busy town centre. Kandy has quite a lot to do. The cultural dance shows are worth seeing, particularly combined with an evening view of the Temple of the Tooth Relic or Botanical Gardens.
KANDY – ELLA TRAIN
Named globally as ‘the most beautiful train ride in the world’, the Kandy to Ella train takes you high into the mountains, through dense forest & vibrant green tea fields, over bridges, through tunnels, local villages and beside smiling faces. The train journey is a day out in itself, a form of transport not only taken by tourists but locals as well. The journey takes approximately 7 hours from Kandy to Ella. If you want to break up the trip you can consider a stop to hike the famous Adams peak or get off in the beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya.
Dambulla is a short bus ride from our local town of Hettipola. Dambulla is famous for housing the Golden Temple and Cave Temples – the largest, best-preserved, cave-temple complex in the country. Also known as Golden Rock Temple, this World Heritage Site comprises of a cave monastery and five sanctuaries. There are plenty of sights to explore in Dambulla such as the Rose Quartz Mountain- the largest in South East Asia, Iron Wood Forest and if you are a cricket fan they have the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium.
Sigiriya is a small town, much quieter than Dambulla, home to the well-known, Sigirya Rock. ‘The Mount of Remembrance’ – a royal palace built in the sky on top of a giant rock, is Sri Lanka’s single most extraordinary site. Only a 30 minute bus from Dambulla, this 660-foot column of rock is in the middle of a thick green tropical forest and is locally known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, nicknamed ‘Lion Rock’ and is a magnificent fortress and temple complex atop a high volcanic plateau.
For those who would like a beautiful view and a less challenging hike, Pidurangala rock is for a traveller on a budget. Many volunteers also chose to hike both Sigiriya and Pidurangala rocks in one morning. Half an hour along steep steps and boulders rewards you with sweeping views of the surrounding area and the best view of Sigiriya Lion Rock. Walk through the dense forest and an ancient Buddhist temple gives you the opportunity see Lions Rock from a viewpoint. A sunrise hike is recommended for breath-taking views and a tranquil setting.
Located on the east coast of Sri Lanka and surrounded by wildlife, hilltops and rock formations is the beautiful coastal town of Trincolmee, nicknamed Trinco. Around 4 hours from the Volunteer House via two buses. Based on a quieter coast than the south, the city possesses golden and palm-fringed beaches making it the perfect place to unwind and relax. Snorkelling and diving are some of the top things to do here with an island nearby perfect for a day trip; Pigeon Ssland is one of the only two marine reserves in Sri Lanka.
Anuradhapura was the first Capital city of Sri Lanka and is named by the Sri Lankan people as the capital city of North Central Province. Its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization gave the city its title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore the Ruwanwelisaya – Buddhist stupa built in 140 BCE or visit Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, which is said to be the southern branch from the historical Sri Maha Bodhi in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.