IN & AROUND AMBALANGODA

PMGY volunteer in Sri Lanka participants are based in Ambalangoda, which is a lively oceanside town situated on the South West Coast. Our Volunteer House is located just outside of the town centre but still in close proximity to shops and the local beach.

 

It is traditionally a fishing community but is famous for being the major production centre for demonic wooden masks. The traditional masks were originally designed to be worn by performers in kolam and other southern Sri Lankan dances, but are now mainly used as souvenirs. Many families hang a mask on their front door to ward off evil spirits.

 

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 you get involved in. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transportation and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core programme.

Hikkaduwa beach one of Sri Lanka's most popular spots

HIKKADUWA

Hikkaduwa has long been among the most popular of Sri Lanka’s beach spots. It has a lively and fun vibe – definitely a backpacker town. It is also your best bet for evening drinks and meals out during your time with us. Furthermore, the surfing in the Hikkaduwa region is quite well known and gets the best surf during its dry season, November to March. Hikkaduwa was affected substantially by the 2004 tsunami caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake. Many of the families who had lost everything were given sewing machines as part of the relief operations.

BENTOTA

Bentota is a good option for those looking for a relaxing weekend by the beach. The name of the town is derived from a mythical story which claims a demon named ‘Bem’ ruled the tota or river bank. It is one of the more established beach resorts on the west coast of Sri Lanka with a number of activities available to you. You can go on a river cruise, visit a turtle hatchery, check out Sri Lanka’s tallest Buddha statue or try out some of the many water sports available. There are also plenty of affordable guesthouses as well as beachside bars and restaurants to keep you entertained.

Bentota beach resort - perfect for a relaxing weekend
UNESCO World Heritage Galle Fort

GALLE

Galle is always a favourite of ours. The UNESCO World Heritage protected Galle Fort is an 18th-century Dutch walled town with chic shops, grand colonial houses and beautiful beaches. Unawatuna beach is the place to be for a lazy weekend by the sea. There are plenty of places to stay, of differing price and quality. Unawatuna has a good nightlife and a number of activities you can get up to – jet skiing, scuba diving, glass boat cruises and even surfing (although you may need to head a little further up the coast for this to the town of Habaraduwa or Ahangama).

Volunteer in Sri Lanka

FURTHER AFIELD

KANDY

Located in the centre of the island, surrounded by green hills and full of cultural significance, Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. 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. There is also a huge botanic garden just 15-minutes out of town by bus.

Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka
One of Yala National Park's many wild and exotic species

YALA NATIONAL PARK

If you’re looking to witness some wildlife during your time in Sri Lanka then we recommend heading over to Yala National Park, on the southeast coast. It is home to the world’s highest density of leopards, as well as a wealth of other species – from elephants to birds. There are numerous hotels and guesthouses you can stay at if you wish to do a longer 6-hour safari as opposed to the 3-4 hour safari. We recommend you catch the sunrise safari in order to have the best chance of seeing all the animals!

ADAM'S PEAK

Sri Lanka’s highest mountain is deeply ingrained in Sri Lankan folklore. Also known as Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint) because of an indentation at the summit. Adam’s Peak is a sacred spot for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The 4,800 steps to the top are trodden by people of all ages. It’s best to trek Adam’s Peak by night as its much cooler and allows you to witness the awesome sunrise. The ascent takes around 2-3 hours. If you plan to do this trek you should bring some comfortable shoes, clothing to cover up at the summit (as it’s a religious site) and a torch!

Adams Peak, Sri Lanka's highest mountain
Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka's top surf spot

ARUGAM BAY

Lovely Arugam Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft sand, is home to a famed point break that for the surf enthusiasts, makes this the best place to go. Travellers head to this spot on the south east coast specifically for the surf and to hang out in the laid-back atmosphere. Surfboards can be rented from surf schools and guesthouses on the beach. It’s a tiny place, with a population of a few hundred, and everything is dotted along a single road which parallels the coast. So in other words, the epitome of the laid-back beach scene that first drew surfers and sun-seekers to Sri Lanka.

THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE

If you are keen to learn more about Sri Lankan history and have some free time to explore Sri Lanka, then it is well worth heading north. The famous cultural triangle stretches from Kandy to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura to the north and Polonnaruwa to the east. These ancient ruined cities contain some fantastic monuments from the golden age of Sinhalese civilization. Furthermore, the extraordinary cave temples of Dambulla, the hilltop shrine of Mihintale, and the awesome rock citadel of Sigiriya, make the long journey all the more worthwhile.

Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka
Volunteer Sri Lanka

PMGY ORGANISED WEEKEND TRIPS (AMBALANGODA PARTICIPANTS ONLY)

PMGY operate a number of amazing weekend trips in Sri Lanka. Everything is planned for you and the group is accompanied by a PMGY member of staff who knows the country inside and out, which is the ideal way to travel. As with everything in life though it pays to be organised, so if you have your heart set on any of the trips below and would like to be guaranteed a place please book well in advance of travel. Please note these trips are only available to participants based in Ambalangoda and not Wasgamuwa National Park.

 

If you’ve already signed up to one of our programmes and would like to book, click the book button below. If you haven’t signed up already, you can add the weekend tour onto your trip during the online application form. Please note places on weekend tours are non-refundable and non-transferable.

ADVENTURE, HILL COUNTRY & SAFARI WEEKEND TRIP - $240pp

INCLUDES - PRIVATE TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, ALL MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES

The Hill Country of Sri Lanka offers you a scenic experience that can only be summed up in one word – magic. This adventure weekend will take in striking colourful scenery, cascading waterfalls, rolling hills, breathtaking mountains, tea plantations and so much more – the Hill Country is a world away from the hot and humid coastal lowlands.

 

As a group you’ll trek to Worlds End in Horton Plains National Park, witness some mesmerising waterfalls, visit a tea plantation and see some of Sri Lanka’s amazing wildlife in Yala National Park. Famously known for the highest concentration of Leopards in the world, Yala National Park boasts an array of fantastic wildlife such as Elephants, Sloth Bears, Sambar and Spotted Deer, Jackals, Mongooses, Wild Boars, Wild Buffaloes, Langur and Macaque Monkeys…so you’d need to make sure to bring your camera!

CULTURAL TRIANGLE & ELEPHANTS WEEKEND TRIP - $240pp

INCLUDES - PRIVATE TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, ALL MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES

Located around the central region of Sri Lanka, The Cultural Triangle is the focal point for any visit to Sri Lanka and a treasure trove of ruins, rocks and wildlife. Although we won’t be visiting Anuradhapura and Polonnarawa due to time constraints, you will still experience 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Sigiriya ‘The Mount of Rememberance – a royal palace built in the sky on top of a giant rock, its Sri Lanka’s single most extraordinary site; Golden Temple of Dambulla – one of the words most acclaimed cave complexes complete with a magnificent Buddha image and the Temple of the Tooth proudly home to Buddha’s tooth, kept in a shrine resting on a solid gold lotus flower.

 

Throw in some spice plantations, herbal massages, Kandyan dancing, not forgetting a jeep safari at either Minneriya National Park or Kaudulla National Park and you’ve got the makings of a pretty special weekend.

MALDIVES CHILLOUT WEEKEND TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - $525pp

INCLUDES - AIRPORT TRANSFERS, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & RETURN FLIGHTS

We can’t imagine anywhere more spectacular to chill out for a few days than the gorgeous Maldives. The 1,192 islands conjure up images of pristine beaches, azure seas and tropical reefs.

 

You’ll be based on the gorgeous, cosmopolitan island of Maafushi for 4 days and 3 nights, right in the centre of the Maldives’ independent travel scene. It’s all about chilling out on this weekend so having a foreigner beach there, means you can wear a bikini and soak up the rays. If you have the energy to roll out of your hammock there is snorkelling, scuba diving, spas and even a spot of fishing if it took your fancy.

 

The PMGY team will arrange your transfers, flights and accommodation but please note this trip is unaccompanied and is an opportunity for some independent travel.

DUBAI RETURN STOPOVER TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - $330pp

INCLUDES - PRIVATE AIRPORT TRANSFERS, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & ACTIVITIES

If your flight itinerary includes a stop in Dubai, then grab an opportunity to spend 4 days and 3 nights in this powerhouse of a city with both hands.

 

Your trip includes a city tour, so you don’t miss any of the best bits as well as an exhilarating 4×4 excursion across the deserts of Dubai. You’ll be sandboarding down huge dunes, taking a camel ride and getting a henna tattoo! The day is topped off with a delicious barbecue dinner under the twinkling Arabian stars while watching a traditional tanoura dance performance.

 

The PMGY team will arrange your city tour, desert safari, transfers and accommodation but please note this trip is unaccompanied and is an opportunity for some independent travel.

 

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