An incredible experience
Sri Lanka

An eye opening adventure

I volunteered on the Sri Lanka Experience Programme in August and was there for about 3 weeks. It was my first solo trip outside of the UK; I was 21 with no idea what to expect and a suitcase packed for every eventuality. Thankfully, I couldn't have chosen a better company to start my adventures with. By volunteering with The Mighty Roar, I already had a head start on all my security concerns; I knew that I'd be in good hands and make friends that I could the country explore with.

"My overall experience was incredible; you really won't believe how quickly the time goes. "

During my time in Sri Lanka, I was able to get involved with so much. We visited markets, met local people and did other touristy stuff - like relaxing on the beach and visiting city hotspots. My first few days in Akurala involved lots of new faces, food and experiences. 

In the daytime, we got well-acquainted with the beach. In the evening (after volunteer work), we explored the area, finding a lovely bar with straw topped umbrellas and local beer. A second option being to grab a beer from a local liquor store and join one of the wonderful weekly campfires on the beach.

My time volunteering was split between Teaching, Childcare and Sea Turtle conservation. The children at the Summer school and playgroup were so lovely and really wanted to learn as much as possible. They would often bring us flowers picked from the gardens, which was really sweet. Beach patrols and releases of the sea turtles were genuinely magical; there's nothing as surreal as seeing a baby turtle take its first steps across the beach and into the ocean. I was also grateful that Charith took the time to teach us about the types of local Sea Turtles and why it was important to help in their conservation.

Following the volunteering, we set off to travel the country, and I have to say Sri Lanka is truly beautiful. Not a single picture will do it justice. So much was done in those following weeks; whilst in Kandy, we saw the Esala Perahera festival, Sri Lanka's annual Buddhist festival, and in Galle Fort, we managed to see a live cricket game! We tried stick fishing in Mirissa and surfing in Weligama. We visited an Elephant orphanage to see the animals feed, and I experienced my first safari in Udawalawe. We had a friendly game of water volleyball with some locals at one of the hotels and had a bit of a pamper at Luckyland Spice Garden. We took an iconic ride on the blue train and equally iconically watched it cross the Nine Arch Bridge. We visited Little England with it's red bricks and mini Big Ben, saw Waterfalls and hiked to World's End. We sampled tea and discovered intricate temples with incredible architecture and centuries-old cave drawings. One of my favourite experiences was watching the most incredible sunset on Pidurangala rock, following a day trip to Sigiriya rock. It was like the Lion King scene, when Mufasa and Simba look over the entire kingdom - really a 'pinch me' moment!

I also extended my trip to include The Maldives weekend - it was a no brainer. Here I swam with nurse sharks, rays and turtles, and got involved with some water sports; jet skiing, parasailing, and, of course, I had a go on the banana boat! I also (not-so-willingly) shared a cup of tea with a cheeky parrot that landed on the table and felt like sharing.

For the duration of the trip, the local team were absolutely incredible. The other volunteers were super friendly, and although there was a spectrum of ages, our unified penchant for adventure brought us together. The accommodation we stayed in was sometimes basic but always clean and with western bathrooms. Thrown in were a few surprise luxury hotels which we made the very best of - late-night silly salmoning in the pool upon arrival! In 3 weeks, I learnt so much and opened my eyes to what travel can truly be.

My overall experience was incredible; you really won't believe how quickly the time goes. It's has been a year and a half since my trip, and I still talk about it all the time. I've been inspired. In fact, writing this review and looking at pictures has got me so nostalgic. If you're thinking about it, just go. Book the trip, book the flights and go - you won't regret it. 

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