Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: CULTURAL ORIENTATION WEEK
LOCATION: KANDY, SRI LANKA
START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)
ACCOMMODATION: VOLUNTEER HOUSE (SHARED ROOMS)
MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK
MIN AGE: 16+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: N/A
PROJECT COSTS: From US$295 + APPLICATION FEE
Volunteer in Sri Lanka with IVI! Before your project starts, why not join us on a week of adventure?! You will explore some of the countries highlights, as well as learn about the local customs and culture. This is a great way to be as prepared as possible before your project starts and to get comfortable with your home for the next few weeks.
Sri Lanka has a rich history, culture and traditions, as well as some stunning landscapes. The orientation week is spent in Kandy, a mountainous city packed with tea plantations and palm trees. First, we will have a welcome meeting and explain to you the do’s and don’ts regarding safety (including women travelling alone), transportation, and the rules of the local culture. We learn more about Buddhism, mysterious mythology behind the culture and visit several temples, including Kandy’s most visited sacred ‘Temple of the Tooth’.
You will have language lessons and get to practice by talking with the locals, you’ll have a traditional Ayurvedic massage, watch a traditional Kandyan dance performance and have a Sri Lankan cooking class.
Kandy, is an amazing destination high up in the hills approx 3 hours drive from Colombo with incredible views, dense forests and a buzzy atmosphere with locals and tourists. Kandy is the last royal capital of Sri Lanka and is famous for it’s culture and temples such as Temple of the Tooth and plenty of others. The city has bustling markets with all kinds of interesting and diverse goods and services from unique handicrafts, exotic foods, arts, music and dance. Kandy has a really cool vibe and is somewhere you can happily explore for an extended period of time.
- To become familiarised with the local surroundings and your new home for the next few weeks
- To explore some of the local sights and cultural heritage
- To learn more about the ‘do’s and dont’s’ and to learn the local language
Food & Accommodation
Accommodation is included for the duration of your volunteer program. The volunteer house is conveniently located around 2 km from Kandy and about a 15 min walk to the nearest supermarket and ATM. You’ll share rooms with 4-6 other volunteers of the same gender with a shared toilet per room. A fridge, safety deposit boxes, lockable rooms, hot showers, bed linen and fan are included with volunteers expected to bring their own towel. Laundry facilities are available at a small fee. The centres do not have Wi-Fi. Most volunteers will purchase a local data plan and connect this to their personal devices.
3 meals per day are provided during weekdays and 2 meals per day on weekends. Safe filtered drinking water is provided along with tea and coffee. You can expect meals with rice, coconut, spices, roti, lots of vegetables & sparing amounts of meat.
If you want to gain a head start on your projects and feel comfortable in your new surroundings, before you begin, this week is a fantastic way to do just that! It gives you time to adjust before your project begins, to explore the local area and to learn more about the culture and customs. This can greatly help you to communicate with the locals on your projects.
- 3 meals p/day weekdays / 2 meals p/day weekends
- Arrival airport transfer (Sat/Sun arrivals)
- Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea
- 1 day orientation
- Daily transportation to project
- In country 24/7 support & emergency assistance
- Fundraising support
- University course credits (where applicable)
- Certificate of Completion
- Travel Insurance
- Tours, Souvenirs & spending money
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kandy. Your Program Fee includes accommodation on the Sunday night before your program orientation. An arrival airport transfer is included from Bandaranayake International Airport on Saturday or Sunday free of charge. If arriving on Saturday, you can book an additional nights accommodation for US$50 including meals.
The transfer coordinator will meet you at the designated point which will be clearly described in your welcome pack which is provided after final payment is made pre-departure.
After a welcome meeting and collecting the necessary documents, we have a basic language lesson. After lunch you will have a cultural lesson before a tour around Kandy city. Later you will watch a colourful cultural show and have a delicious dinner afterwards.
After a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast, we visit a herbal and spice garden, where we will discover natural spices and traditional remedies. We then visit a factory and gem museum in Kandy (Sri Lanka is famous for its blue sapphire). In the afternoon, we take a relaxing boat ride around the beautiful Kandy lake.
Today you have a traditional Sri Lankan cooking experience, a fun experience where you can taste what you cook! We also visit a temple to learn some of the Buddhist religious rituals practiced by Sri Lankans. Get in touch with mind and soul with a soothing meditation session.
Today we have an early start to visit to a family practicing traditional Batik painting. Here, you’ll take part in a fun-filled, creative workshop and challenge your artistic thinking, making an original Batik design of your own. You will be creating your design using vibrant colours, techniques, tools and dyes. We then have a traditional lunch with the family.
Today we explore some of the surrounding temples, one being a sacred temple in a small forest and the other, a holy Hindu temple. An Indian lunch awaits you in Kandy city, followed by a soothing Ayurvedic massage later on.
Here are a few things you can do in Sri Lanka!
Royal Botanical Gardens
The Botanic Gardens are situated around 5. km to the West of Kandy. Once being only for the Kandyan royalty, they are now open to the public to wander around at their leisure. There’s 60 hectares of beautiful garden to explore, where you will see a huge Javan fig tree, pretty orchids and even monkeys!
Knuckles mountain range
This stunning mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts many walking trails. You will find small villages, beautiful waterfalls, numerous native wildlife and rice fields. This is the perfect place for people who love the outdoors and adventurous hiking trails.
Sigiriya (Lion Rock)
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, this ancient rock is situated around 91km North from Kandy and is very popular with tourists, who can climb up to the top for some seriously stunning views. Along the way you will see antient rock carvings and paintings on the walls of this sacred rock. It will take roughly just over an hour to climb up.
Yala National Park
Located on the South coast of Sri Lanka, this stunning park hosts one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Not only that, you can also spot elephants, monkeys, birds, buffalo and more. There are numerous tours in Yala, from day tours to over several days of safari.
Around 91km South of Kandy you can climb to the top of this sacred sight, just as the locals do for pilgrimage. It’s a bit of a trek up in the dark but totally worth it to see the sun coming up over the clouds, mountains and lush forest. You will be greeted by stunning views to reward your efforts!
Hortons Plains National Park
You can trek through this beautiful national park to ‘World’s End’, a 9.5km round loop trail, taking around 3 hours. This is a pretty easy walk, but you will be greeted with amazing views out over the countryside and above the clouds! It’s best to visit here early (before 10am) as the clouds can roll in after that and block the incredible views.
Udawatta Kele Reserve
Situated near the Kandy lake, this nature reserve is complete with monkeys and birds- fantastic for wildlife and nature lovers. Here you will find wooded forests, over 400 species of plants and 70 bird species. You can trek through the forest for a relaxing break away from the city.
Kandy and Nuwara Eliya are both popular places to visit a tea plantation, for a refreshing taste of some of Sri Lanka’s best fresh tea! Not only do they produce great tea, the landscape is stunningly green, with endless hills rolling off into the distance.
- Volunteers below the age of 18 should have parental consent.
- Volunteers above the age of 65 should have medical clearance.
- Hiking Shoes
- Modest clothes for temple visits
With a population of 20 million, the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka, formally known as Ceylon is a tear drop shaped island off the south eastern coast of India. Steeped in over 2000 years of history, the culture is unique to Sri Lanka and known for it’s export of tea, holistic medicines, cinnamon and gemstones including a unique blend of music, dance and visual arts.
Colinised by the British, Dutch and Portugese, there is a multi-culturalism with distinct Sri Lankan flair that feels similar to India, only a whole lot more chilled out! Sri Lanka, better known as the “nation of smiling people” is predominently buddhist (approx 80%) with some Hindu, Muslim and Christianity.
Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and given it’s size it’s easy to experience them all in a short period of time. From the world’s oldest living tree in Anuradhapura, to the colonial architecture of Colombo, to the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, to lush natural forest, picturesque cities, thousand year old temples, and ancient civilation ruins there are really so many reasons to visit this amazing land.
Sri lanka has a tropical climate with distinctive wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary and it can get much cooler in the mountains than it can on the beach.
On average temperatures in Sri Lanka vary from 28- 32 degrees, but in the mountain regions this can go to as low as 16 degrees.
From mid-April to September the Southwest moonsoon rains come, affecting the West, Southwest coastline and the Hill Country. On the East coast, the monsoon rains start from November to March but are not quite as severe.
December to March are the best months to visit the West or South coastline and the Hill Country. For the East coast or the North, the best time to visit is from April to September.
Sri Lanka and known for it’s export of tea, holistic medicines, cinnamon and gemstones including a unique blend of music, dance and visual arts.
Colinised by the British, Dutch and Portugese, there is a multi-culturalism with distinct Sri Lankan flair that feels similar to India, only a whole lot more chilled out! Sri Lanka is predominently buddhist (approx 80%) with some Hindu, Muslim and Christianity.
There are many festivals in Sri Lanka. Here are the dates for some of them!
- January: Duruthu
Celebrates the Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka. During Duruthu, thousands of people attend colorful parades, which consist of three processions on the nights before the full moon. The processions consist of fireball performers, drummers, dances, decorated elephants and the most important – a gigantic tusker treading a white carpet.
- April 13th or 14th: Avurudda (New Year)
Avurudda celebrates the Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka. According to Sinhalese astrology, the new year begins when the sun changes from Meena Rashi (Pisces) to Mesha Rashi (Aries).
- June: Poson Festival
Poson Festival takes place on the full moon day of June and celebrates the arrival of Buddhism, which occurred when Arahat Mahinda, the son of the emperor of India, converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism.
- October or November: Diwali (Festival of Lights)
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival that signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, and good over evil. It is celebrated with millions of lights shining over houses, temples, and buildings.
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IVI is an Australian charity & non profit organisation founded in 1989 and is one of the pioneers of overseas volunteering successfully placing over 20,000 volunteers globally.