Elephant Freedom project

Check Elephant Freedom project on the Sri Lanka map

Wash, feed and walk with elephants at the unique Elephant Freedom project in Sri Lanka. A great place for a one day visit or longer with the option to stay overnight. The project is open from 9 am till 5 pm for one day visits.

 

The Elephant Freedom project is a sanctuary where much has been done to improve elephant welfare: No riding, protection from the sun, natural food elephants can eat when they want, elephant enrichment games, lots of playing and socializing time and most of the time the elephants are unchained..

More improvements are planned to create an area where the elephants can roam free day and night so they won't need any chaining anymore, have a constant supply to drinking water and have the life they deserve.

At current we got two adorable baby elephants. With us they have a great life and don't have to perform all sorts of tourist attracting, unnatural, tricks to earn money for their keeper and owner. Instead they will be able to roam the project grounds free without chains and enjoy a wonderful life.

Day visits and volunteering for one or more weeks will help us raise the funds to keep the elephants and improve the grounds. Please come join us to enjoy quality time with happy elephants.

 

At the elephant freedom project you look after the elephants.

  • Bathing and feeding are basic activities.
  • Join on great walks with the elephants through the surrounding area, enjoying paddy fields, jungle area and the local village.
  • Play enrichment games in which elephants have great joy discovering new toys.
  • Help clean the elephant beds and keep the elephant area clean to ensure a great and safe place for our elephants.
  • Play education games with kids in the village
  • Grow food for elephants in the eco - garden
  • Learn how to cook Sri Lankan food.

Prices:

Adult - 1 day visit  105$

Child 6 to 12 - 1 day visit  102$

Child under 6 - 1 day visit 8$

             

 

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 8 h


Tourist reviews about Elephant Freedom project

A very worthy cause!
Suzanne P [TA], ,

If you are an animal lover you will be avoiding the likes of Pinnawala and looking for the most ethical way to see elephants up close. We didn't want our trip to Sri Lanka to be ruined by witnessing distress and cruelty which is why we chose Elephant Freedom Project and we weren't disappointed.

The new manager at the project, Nadia is passionate about the welfare of the two elephants who currently live there - she was always on hand and we enjoyed talking to her about her vision for the place. The owners and other staff members were also incredibly friendly and make you feel at home from the second you arrive. The accommodation is basic as you would expect in Sri Lanka but comfortable and you will never go hungry!

I have to be honest and say I still didn't like seeing the elephants in chains (very lightweight) and being controlled by a Mahout. Though the Mahout is not allowed to hit the elephant, it will always be a better experience to see the animal in the wild. For these elephants, who have been captive most of their lives, this is the best alternative. They get to wander and just 'be' unlike other elephants who are forced to work in horrific conditions. You will get to feed and wash an elephant but THEIR welfare is the most important thing for this project and for that I cannot recommend this experience highly enough.

A magical day with Seetha
s0phieell... [TA], , Sheffield, United Kingdom

One of the most memorable experiences I have had! A magical day spent in the presence of a wonderful creature, and a truly unique elephant experience in Sri Lanka. These guys are clearly working hard to improve the lives of captive elephants in Sri Lanka and make you feel like you are contributing to a worthwhile project. The service was excellent and I felt very well looked after - but still I felt that the elephants were their first priority with us tourists in close second.... just how it should be!

Disappointed
hazelemer... [TA], , Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom

Very touristy, not really what we were expecting. Non of us liked it very much. Like seeing elephants in UK, except when they went down to the river.

Elephant freedom project. A must do experience
Wendy D [TA], , Luton, United Kingdom

Went to this wonderful place with my 2 adult children. What a lovely hands on experience. My son got to be a mahout with the lovely gentle see ta.
Bathing her was an experience never to be forgotten. The lunch was delicious.
The visit to the elephant dung paper factory was interesting.
Lovely people running a really fabulous project trying yo give some of these intelligent animals a better life.
It is deffinitely a must do.

Great initiative by the government and well kept to ensure the elephants live in their natural habitat
Priya V [TA], ,

A must visit place, especially to educate your child on wildlife in their natural habitat and the repurcussions on human invasion in the jungles

Can't find a better place
Lucialea [TA], , Munich, Germany

Volunteering at the Elephant Freedom Project was the best decision and one of the most wonderful travelling experiences I have ever made! This is an organization which really cares about the well-being of elephants and doesn't see it just as a business idea like many others.
There is a basic programme which you follow every day (feeding, walking and washing the elephant) but the host family does everything possible to offer you different activities if you stay for several days.
The hostfamily is so welcoming and warm, we spent hours talking and cooking together- which is the real experience for me!

Caring for the elephants was a dream coming true and my expectations were 100% fullfilled.

Very Humbling and Fun
Andy J [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

So enjoyed this unique experience for us as a family of 5 to spend so much time with 2 wonderful elephants. We have 3 children ages 13, 11 and 8 and they loved it all from cleaning out the dung, to feeding and walking the elephants, helping prepare our lunch. Finally they got up close and personal to clean the elephants in a river. A great family experience!

Money Scam
Todd N [TA], , Oxford, United Kingdom

The Elephant Freedom Project

Both my girlfriend and I spent many nights looking for a place to have a positive Elephant experience while travelling Sri Lanka, we stumbled upon The Elephant Freedom Project and believed that due to the heavy price tag of £65p/p we would have a non tourist, educational and enriching time. Sadly it felt more business like than ever, although all of our email exchanges were with a pleasant gentleman Tim, on arrival he was nowhere to be seen. We were instead met by an all be it pleasant Sri Lankan family. It was the youngest girl of the family that led our day around 16, she spoke great English but failed to give us any real information on the elephant other than the fact that they rented the elephant from a logging company. We spent the early morning clearing the elephants dung then walked behind her for an hour, later on we helped make a Sri Lankan meal and sat down for lunch. Later in afternoon the elephant goes down to the river where we had a chance to clean and had minimal interaction really, they cut this experience shorter than we liked to take us to a school far away on the bus in which we sat and spoke English to the students, this is obviously a deal they have with the school and makes you feel quite uncomfortable.
The idea of this place is better than the experience and it's hard to know where the extremely costly ticket fee goes. At the end of the day this elephant is no more free than any other and if anything is a whole lot more lonely.


Conscience clear amazing elephant experience
ClaireDCa... [TA], , Cambridge, United Kingdom

Having done lots of research on the best way (for us and the elephant!) to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals we decided to visit the Elephant Freedom Project. The host family were welcoming and the accommodation may be basic but it was very comfortable; a clean bed and private bathroom with western toilet and shower. Great home cooking, plenty of Ceylon tea, really enjoyed the cooking lesson - aka preparing lunch! The family kindly let us cool a few beers in the fridge after our long journey from the airport. Manika is a beautiful animal and clearly loves her new found freedom. Our hosts from the project were very enthusiastic and took lots of pictures for us as we spent time in the river with Manika. We had stopped en route at Pinnewala and found it very distressing to see young elephants there chained by two legs and unable to move more than a step in each direction, some showing stereotypical behaviour. We saw other places where you could ride elephants where the conditions looked very poor. We were so glad we chose this experience where they clearly put the elephant first. Would highly recommended for the scenery, home cooking, enthusiasm and of course, Manika. Keep up the good work!

Enjoyable day trip
sgillis83 [TA], , Dublin, Ireland

A really enjoyable day trip from Kandy. The Elephant Freedom project is a lovely way to spend a day with an elephant without feeling like you are exploiting the animal. The company is very professionally run and all staff are very friendly, especially Nishan who accompanies the group on the walks and when washing the elephant in the river. We had no issues with payment or communication before arriving and I found Tim very easy to deal with.

The scenery is beautiful on the walk and the lunch which you help prepare is delicious. My Girlfriend and I really enjoyed the day and everyone in the group was very nice. highly recommend

Just an amazing and unique experience!!!
Shaqx [TA], ,

We booked this place in advance and lucky we managed to reserve a place.

What an amazing experience. Really. We wanted to be able to meet an elephant in Sri Lanka for an up close experience. We gathered that the elephants in some of the other sanctuaries were actually kept in chains and kept in check with bull hooks being jabbed at them, from reading reviews. This project however is trying to change things. They sent a pack of information detailing the activities of the day.

We were lucky on the day as it was just my wife and me who had booked. We met an experienced and knowledgeable young fellow named Nishan who did a fantastic job at giving us an in depth background about elephants and the freedom project. We learnt about Manika, the beautiful 40 year old Asian elephant there including her past and current lifestyle there, the do's and don'ts.

We started off the day literally shovelling poo from Manika's poo spot to the legendary 'Poo mountain' where my wife got a tad bit lost. We freshened up after this and went for a walk with Manika around the local area and into the hills. She is escorted at all times with her mahut. Take an umbrella and some water if you can.

We came back to rest and later prepared a delicious lunch which we later ate together with Nishan. It was a great way to learn about Sri Lankan cooking and some of their basic cooking techniques.

Later on we got a chance to wash this incredible animal in a close by river, scrubbing her back in the cool waters. Take some spare clothes with you in case you fall in the river (or the Poo mountain!). They have an option of staying at the family home, which itself was a nice place, we were not to far away in Kandy (45min-1hr away). All in all, a fabulous experience which we hope can be shared by as many people as possible.

Elephants terms!
Catherine... [TA], , Oslo, Norway

A great experience, at this place you don't ride elephants or overfeed them with fruits for your photo ops like in Pinnawela or Millennium. Stay away from those .At the time of my visit they only had one elephant, Manika, but since we only were a group of 5 visitors that was fine. Accommodation is very basic, host family friendly, and they also offer transport.

Unique experience
Hail9 [TA], ,

My partner found this great elephant project on trip advisor. We decided on staying 1 night here also. We loved the fact the elephants are not ridden and chained up, which when you see this in Sri Lanka it is very sad . It was also is so nice to see a rescued elephant getting a much better environment and treated better than its previous home.

We were happy as soon as we arrived at the house. The family who owned the project were very hospitable offered us tea whilst we waited for the rest of the group
to arrive. We had only 6 people in our group for the day which was great as you get more of an hands on experience.

Our guide for the day was Nishan a lovely guy who could speck good English and answer a lot of our questions.

We started with walking the elephant, there was only one female elephant at the project at the time. We then did some elephant housekeeping and joined the ladies in the kitchen to help make a delicious lunch of curries, popadoms and fried rice.

In the afternoon we washed the elephant in the river and then took her on her final walk ( this could of been a shorter walk!).

In the evening the family cooked an amazing dinner for my partner and I, and then we played board games with their daughter. The accommodation was fine just what we needed for the night.

All and all we would recommend this to everyone who is going to Sri Lanka. The project is so well organised and they are doing a great thing for the elephants.

A memorable visit for many reasons
MikeCoutt... [TA], , Durban, South Africa

My girlfriend and I recently spent two nights at the EFP. We were greeted with tea and a big smile in the very comfortable home of the family whose property on which the project runs.

The accommodation is simple and comfortable. Filtered drinking water is available and we were offered tea many times thought our stay, small things which make the overall experience comfortable.

We met Tim who was very friendly and refreshing to talk to. Our guide on the day, Nishan, was very passionate about elephants and the project in general, speaks wonderful English and really made our time there a pleasant experience.

I would advise everyone to read about the project before you go so that you understand what it is trying to achieve and the obstacles that make this difficult. We happened to be joined by a couple of holiday makers who left halfway because it wasn't the contrived photograph and riding opportunity they so clearly wanted.

Washing the elephant in the river is a fantastic experience and unfortunately something the impatient tourists missed because they left in a huff immediately when found out that the coordinators couldn't change the elephants routine to meet their very important schedule they had to stick to.

The cooking lesson at lunch and supper with the family at night were both really cool and a chance to hear about Sri Lanka from Sri Lankans outside of a typical tourist environment.

So if you are prepared to read and understand the project and what is sets out to achieve then I would highly recommend it! It was a highlight of a three week trip.

If you want an elephant to sit or stand exactly where it's handler tells/smacks it to for your perfect holiday photo then maybe try somewhere else.

Great day!
hotfudgem... [TA], ,

My girlfriend and I spent 1 day (and 1 night) at the Elephant Freedom Project and we had a truly great day!

We have arrived early in the morning from near Kandy (2-2.5 hour drive). We were served coffee and tea and met a few more travellers who were there for the day. Then we went for a nice walk along the rice patties with Manika (the elephant). This was followed by a relaxed cooking class and lunch and then we went down with Manika to the river where we all bathed her together! Finally we all took the local bus to an English language school to have conversation with local kids which was also a great experience (I understand this is only done on Tuesdays).

The accommodation was simple but nice and clean and we left the next morning. Accommodation is usually only given if you stay more than 1 day but we have arranged the accommodation for the night anyway (by email, in advance) because the project is relatively remote. The accommodation was very reasonably priced. The landlord can help you arrange a driver for the next day if you need it. I did find it a bit pricey (but negotiable) so you may be better of trying to find a driver in person if you are visiting nearby towns (Kandy, Kegalle, Pinnawala etc) and booking a pick up that way instead.

I would truly recommend visiting the project, it is a great thing to do for couples / friends / solo travellers. I would suggest that 1 day is enough.

I heard horrible things form other travellers about the nearby elephant orphanage (where they keep elephants heavily chained for be entertainment of tourists) but the Elephant Freedom Project is all about caring for Manika and giving her a good life so this is a great place.

Money Making Place
Joy T [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Using Elephants to Make Money & nothing than that.
The real freedom for elephants is in Jungle . So stop spending money here as volunteer means everything should be free.

Unique and worthwhile experience
miss_rebe... [TA], , Brisbane, Australia

The wonderful people at the project are trying (and slowly succeeding) in changing local and tourist attitudes about the treatment of these marvellous creatures. So, don't expect to ride and elephant or watch them do tricks here. They only allow 7 people maximum with each elephant.

There was one elephant, Manika, with her mahut. He had a bull hook with him (from 30 years of using it on her) but he did not use it once, a huge achievement considering Manika and the mahut had only been there for 4 months. Everything we did gave us an appreciation of what it means to look after an elephant. The day started after greetings and a hot tea, with cleaning the enclosure. Shovelling elephant poo into buckets - I'm sure that they made it easy for us as it was all already in one pile! This really took no time at all between 6 of us. We took Manika for a walk (or rather, she took us) and for a but of food. We had the chance to help prepare a traditional Sri Lankan lunch, which was absolutely delicious. After lunch we washed Manika in the river, then took her for another walk.

Nishan, our coordinator and guide for the day was knowledgeable and clearly passionate about elephants.

It was an incredible day and I would highly recommend it. Please don't go to places like Pinnewalla or Millennium - the "orphanages" often mean that the baby elephants have been forcibly removed from their mothers. Do your research and you will end up at the Elephant Freedom Project.

Go here over any other elephant tourist spot
Aimee194 [TA], , Brisbane, Australia

The team here are doing well to improve elephant welfare in Sri Lanka. Would recommend. Great cooking lesson too!

EFP is a remarkable achievement
SoloKH [TA], , Manchester

My husband and I enjoyed almost two whole days and an overnight stay in the company of Manika (a mature female elephant), Tim and the local family where the EFP is based. Our own arrangements meant that we were late arriving the first day and missed most of the first walk but were soon joining in the preparation of lunch. Sri Lankan food generally is too spicy for us but all of the dishes we ate were delicious and we even tried some of local ones. In the afternoon we followed Manika and her Mahout to the nearby river and after careful guidance we spent time ‘washing’ Manika with coconut husks as she lay contentedly in the shallow water, occasionally flapping the ear that was not submerged in the water. Manika’s skin has large areas of pink colouration and it took me a while to realise this as I was trying to wash the ‘sand’ from her back. After a while we stood back as the Mahout called Manika to stand up in the river and turn on her other side and the washing continued. The Mahout, who has been with Manika a very long time, was easily able to get her to raise a leg or trunk so that he could continue washing her.
After her bath in the river Manika collected food from a nearby store and was guided back to her enclosure for the rest of the day. After a welcome shower, we ate again with the whole family in the evening and slept well under cover of a mosquito net.
After breakfast the next morning we took Manika on another walk, roadside at first and then into the local countryside (jungle?). Manika was allowed to drink water from an outside tap at one house where the owner was known to EFP and along the way another family brought out large leaves for Manika to eat. We stopped at several places amongst the shade of the trees so that Manika could eat the foliage and during these stops, and for that matter for most of the walk, we were able to learn much from Tim about elephants generally, elephants in Sri Lanka more particularly, and especially his ambitions for the EFP and the welfare of elephants in Sri Lanka.
Later in the afternoon we accepted Tim’s invitation to take a bus ride to a local school where we sat with children and young adults so that they could practice their English language skills and we could learn more about Sri Lankan life.
Tim is earnestly and deeply committed to the welfare of elephants. The EFP is a remarkable achievement and it was a privilege to spend time in the company of this naturalist. If you believe that elephants are sentient creatures and deserve our respect, then go to the EFP and take the time to walk slowly with an elephant, talk to a superb naturalist, and engage with the friendly and welcoming local family who are also committed to the EFP – you won’t be disappointed.

Don't bother
Giralang [TA], , Jerusalem, Israel

We made the mistake of taking a day out to drive up to the sanctuary and see the elephants. Not sure how much of an orphanage site it is. Some elephants are walking around but still many of them were chained up to a very small area. While we were told that is all about training them to be less hostile after coming in from the wild, it just did not add up.

Happy elephant, perfect day
Jodie S [TA], , Poole, United Kingdom

We spent one night and one full day at the Elephant Freedom Project and what a day! After searching through different elephant orphanages and not feeling quite right about how they were treated - we finally came across this wonderful project. At the moment they have just one elephant - Manika due to the many complications of the elephant owners only wanting to rent their elephants out for working purposes only. Manika is 40 years old and has spent the first 30 years of her life in the logging industry as a machine. You can see how much happier she is now she is at the project - we spent our day going for a walk alongside her (no riding!) and then bathed her in the river followed by a second walk later in the day! Absolute recommended - the people who run the project are passionate and loving towards these wonderful creatures.

An amazing and worthwhile project to be part of!
Saoirse_K... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

I visited the elephant project for a weekend at the end of July 2015. Arriving on a Friday evening, I stayed there for 2 nights and two days - and every moment was fantastic. After doing a lot of research on Elephant sanctuaries./projects in Sri Lanka, this was the only one that I was comfortable visiting due to their values and respect for the incredible animals. The host family were so welcoming and did everything they could to make us feel welcome in their home - the rooms were perfect and the food was amazing! Tim, who runs the project clearly feels passionate about the care of the elephants in Sri Lanka and was clearly very knowledgable about the treatment of elephants in Sri Lanka - he kept us informed of anything we wanted to know. While I was there, Raja (a beautiful male elephant) was the only elephant at the project and it was incredible being able to go with him on his walks and help wash him in the river. He was just beautiful and seeing him being treated with respect and dignity was just incredible. We passed one of the other so called elephant sactuaries when we visited the elephant dung factory (Millennium) and without entering the complex, it was evident these elephants were being kept in horrible conditions and treated awfully. We saw poor elephants with up to 4 people on their backs and even saw one elephant being forced to pull a stuck truck out of mud - it was appalling! The elephant freedom project is a world away from these other horrible places that have no consideration for the way the elephants are kept. It is admirable what the people at EFP do and I would wholeheatedly recommed this place for anyone who wants help towards the better care for these beautiful creatures in Sri Lanka. Our guide was amazing and, like Tim, told us anything we wanted to know. During my stay we also visited the elephant dung factory down the road which was an interesting experience.

Honestly, I feel the Elephant Freedom Project is the only Elephant project in the country that is ethical and does everything in it's power to ensure that the elephants are treated with the respect that they deserve!

It may be more expensive than the other places but that's because they aren't in this for profit unlike the likes of Pinnawala and Millennium Foundation. It is worth every penny and if you want an experience you never want to forget then this is for you! Their cause is amazing and it is completely worth it!

Thank you for an amazing experience and please carry on with the incredible work you are doing!

Once in a lifetime
Nicola R [TA], ,

Well worth a visit- we were put off by going to Pinewalla due to bad reviews so I searched and found EFP. Well I'm glad I did- the interaction we got with Manika was second to none and the memories I will take away. The whole set up was great- we were slightly late due to travel time and they were fantastic with us- we got to visit the local school which was also great- but this is a good bus journey away which we didn't expect but worth the visit!

A wonderful project to visit! Worth the time and the money!
AliceErik... [TA], , Australia

We stayed here for two days and one night in September. Once I had read about the project on trip advisor I absolutely had to visit and I am so glad we fit it into our Sri Lanka trip!!!

We arrived around 8.30am on our first morning and were greeted by the ever friendly and cheerful coordinator, Nishan. We had a cup of tea and dropped our bags off before heading out the back to help clean the elephant enclosure. Then we went with Manika and her mahout for a walk up into the hills. It was beautiful to see her wandering around enjoying snacking on the trees and walking on her terms and time!

We came back and learnt how to make a delicious traditional lunch before heading out to give Manika an afternoon bath in the nearby creek. We spent the afternoon at a local school helping the students to practice English.

It was beautiful to see the love and passion that everyone at the project has for the elephants and was great to get more insight into the way elephants are treated in Sri Lanka. It is also a great opportunity to gain a more realistic insight into life in Sri Lanka as you are a bit away from the more tourist-driven places.

A wonderful opportunity that doesn't come around too often. Absolutely, 100% recommend!

Worth every penny
Jordan K [TA], ,

After doing alot of research only to come to find out most of the "elephant orphanages" are actually just zoos. We finally found this place! this place was such a great expeirience. You actually get to interact with the elephant and they teach you about where every dollar goes to take care of this animal. They have the nicest staff who were able to answer all of our questions. The cooking class was also amazing we already used our skills we learned wiht cooking at our other accommodations. If you truely an animal lover and want to support the right company GO HERE!

Fantastic volunteer project
Alicia_18... [TA], , Deal, United Kingdom

After spending a long time on the internet trying to find a place I could visit elephants in Sri Lanka with my boyfriend which did not promote elephant riding or performing and was not filled with tourists, I came across this volunteering project which is fantastic. We are both extremely enthusiastic about conserving animals and the welfare of elephants. The elephant freedom project sounded like exactly what we had been looking for. We arrived at 08.30 and were given an introduction to the project and a cup of tea, we then met Manika the elephant for the first time and took her for a walk, she is truely beautiful! After the walk we had a cooking lesson and learnt how to make several traditional Sri Lankan dishes, these were all served to us at lunchtime and were incredible! After lunch we took Manika to a creek and washed her which was amazing, she seemed to enjoy every moment. Unfortunately a huge storm decided to drench us and we had to cut the afternoon short but we spent time talking to Tim and Nishan about the project, you could see how passionate they are about providing captive elephants with a life away from riding places and logging and enabling them to live happily in a natural environment. Although Manika will never be in the wild again she seemed content and is treated incredibly well.
I would highly recommend this project to anyone who truly loves elephants and who would want them to be treated well rather than like money makers.
I would've loved to have been able to spend longer volunteering here but due to being on a backpackers budget this wasn't possible.

Amazing experience with a wonderful project
Steph G [TA], , London, United Kingdom

We were toying whether to go to pinnewalla or not as we'd read bad reviews about how they treat their elephants and we stumbled across this project. We're so glad we did because we had the best day.

Nishan was our lovely coordinator and stayed with us all day, we walked with the elephant, washed her in the river and he told us about elephant welfare and how they were trying to change opinions in Sri Lanka. We also did a cooking lesson where we made traditional curries in house the project is based at and we visited a school.

I've done these kind of excursion days before where you are thrust upon locals who don't really want to talk to you and the whole thing is based on making money from tourists. This was something completely different everyone we met was lovely and welcoming and the founders are so passionate about elephant welfare, it's not about making money at the animal's expense. We would highly recommend this experience.

Hang out in the river with the elephant
Troy D [TA], ,

Very good experience. Helping bathe the elephant in the river was fun and cooking the meal with the locals and learning about Sri Lankan cuisine was very informative and delicious. Completely raw and fresh ingredients. A good and noble operation, visit this place and support the good cause of giving elephants a better life. The guide was very knowledgable and extremely friendly. Played UNO with us during the breaks and shared good conversation. The elephant trainer was very kind to the elephant and has complete confidence with his skills. Very kind people, you won't be disappointed.

Unique experience
JulesCros... [TA], , Leeds, United Kingdom

The Elephant Freedom Project is a once in a lifetime experience. Bathing the elephant, walking with her and helping with the upkeep of her enclosure is wonderful, but learning more about life for elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka and the bigger picture is very insightful. I'd say keep an open mind, there are two sides to every story, but this is certainly the most personal experience you'll be able to get with elephants in Sri Lanka, I'm sure.

Being with the elephant was fantastic but over lunch, you get the opportunity to cook a traditional Sri Lankan curry with a Sri Lankan family and that was also an experience I'll never forget. We were made to feel so welcome in the family's home and the food was fantastic. Tim even emailed me the recipes afterwards which was very kind.

More expensive than other elephant experiences but worth spending the money, just keep an open mind.

Most amazing, do this instead of the other elephant trips.
Patches14... [TA], , Stevenage, United Kingdom

Myself and partner arranged this before our holiday on the advise of a friend who had done both Pnnawala elephant orphanage and Millenium - and said that the Freedom Project was by far the best option - and i'm so glad I paid a bit more money and did this. You can only book direct and before hand.

Yes it is more expensive, but i'd pay again if I go back. Especially after doing a little reading on the treatment and welfare of elephants in others parks/attractions in Sri Lanka.

We and 3 others (5 in total) had a whole day at the project - no one else. We arrived and were given a nice cup of tea in the family home and chatted with the family and our guide for the day. Then we went and cleared a little dung up, followed by a long walk with a female elephant. We walked for i think around 2 hours around the local hill village, our guide gave us so much information about elephants and the local area - he was fab.
Then we helped make lunch in the family kitchen and sat together and enjoyed great and plentiful food - we also all had a game of Rummykub whilst chilling for a bit:)

Then we walked her to the river and helped wash and clean her for about 45 minutes, just us the guide and the mahoot. Lots of opportunities to take great photos and get up close with the elephant.

Then the rest of the group went of to a school for an hour to chat to the local kids, I had a bad bite on my leg from the day before so decided to stay and the house and chill with a book on the front porch and I nodded off, it was so peaceful. We then said our goodbyes.

The mahoot clearly was in charge of the elephant, but also clearly really cared about her. No bullhook was used throughout our visit and the elephant was clearly enjoying her time at the project and is treated very well. The elephant was not "made" to perform anything for us, we were not allowed to ride it (quite rightly), and I would say this day is for people that want to be with an elephant for the day rather than taking cute photo's of it whilst it's being made to perform.

Thank you for fab experience, you are a lovely welcoming family and i hope to come back some day.

Absolutely Incredible ;)
Matej A [TA], ,

We have spent only one day at this project and it was realy worth it. We are recommending it to people who would like to spend some time close as possible to an elephant and donate the money for the wellbeing of this beautiful animals.

We felt very special to get so close to the magnificent Manike, especially to bath with her.

Thank's for a great experience.

Hope we come back soon ;)

Matej & Andreja

Fantastic
Simon A [TA], ,

We searched for an elephant tour and this stood out from the crowd.

If you dig a little deeper, the majority of the other venues are akin to donkey rides on Blackpool Beach, where although the animals appear to be looked after, it's only one step away from a circus life and I'm not keen on any type of activity that could lead or encourage cruelty, just to satisfy either greed and or a tourist's photograph.

What we wanted to experience was an elephant who was living life to the full and one who was cared for by the owners. We wanted to interact with it, take it for walks and spend a day relaxing in its environment. The Elephant Freedom Project allowed us to do this.

It was a unique experience, free from packed crowds and tourists. We even helped prepare our lunch and got totally immersed in all the good work that the Project does. While more expensive than the other places, there is a good reason for this and that was because of the high costs of rental of the elephant.

As close as you will get to living life with an elephant - I loved every minute, it was a great birthday present and I'll never forget the memories.

unforgettable experience
ilsina [TA], , Tyumen, Russia

We spent almost three days in the project and definitely so happy choosing this place to introduce ourselves to the life of an elephant. Even though spending time with Raja was very memorable and heart warming, our brightest memories are about people who are involved in this project. It was extremely interesting to live in a family and feel part of it. Mr Ananda and his family are amazing people who will always be in our hearts.

Also there has been always positive, always smiling and never tired Gayan, project coordinator, who seems to have bottomless energy and love for what he is doing.

If you want to meet passionate people and learn more about elephants and their sometimes difficult life in Sri Lanka its definitely a place to visit. Just want to wish patience and luck to Tim and everyone who works hard to make our world at least a little bit better every single day.

Ray and Ilsina

Absolutely Amazing
Jo L [TA], , Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom

We volunteered at the project for one week and can honestly say it was a fantastic experience. Everyone in the project, including the coordinator, owner, family and helpers were so welcoming and did everything to ensure our experience was the best it could be. Staying in the family home and eating (and learning to cook) home made dishes was part of what enhanced our time. We really recommend going when there is a school visit, as you can have very interesting and fun chats with the students. Raja the elephant was beyond description and will always stay in our hearts. Getting to go out with him and see how he is relaxing into the retired life of luxury, and enjoying giving him baths in the afternoon are memories that we will carry forever. We do not have a single bad word to say except how gutted we were to leave! 1000 stars :)

A highlight of our trip in Sri Lanka
EBSimpson [TA], , Ilkley, United Kingdom

We decided to visit the Elephant Freedom Project rather than one of the larger local projects as it was important to us to spend our money somewhere that prioritised the elephant's welfare. We spent a full day at the project, as recommended, and stayed overnight before getting the train from nearby Rambukana back through Kandy and into the hill country.

Our day involved joining Raja the elephant on his morning walk, helping prepare lunch, and bathing Raja in the river. Usually, there would be a second walk in the afternoon, but as Raja had an injured foot, this was cancelled so as to better rest it. We also had the opportunity to learn how to weave palm leaves together to make a cover for Raja's water trough.

Visitor numbers are limited, which meant the whole experience felt much more personal and relaxed. It also meant we could all get involved washing Raja at the same time - and that there were never other people in the way of our photos! Staff were very patient and friendly about our constant photo-taking, and were happy to take photos for us with Raja the elephant. Gayan, the project coordinator, was especially helpful. He could answer all of the hundreds of questions we asked him about Raja and elephants more generally, and he even helped us get the bus into Rambukana at the end of the day and took us to the train station to get our tickets for the next day.

The food we had at each lunch and dinner was some of the best we've had in Sri Lanka, and our accommodation was clean and comfortable. Our whole stay was enjoyable and informative, and we would recommend it to anyone. Our one concern - that elephants are sociable animals, and Raja was by himself - was shared by staff, who explained that they were in the process of finding another elephant to join Raja (who himself had only been at the project for about two weeks when we visited). We were satisfied that everyone at the project was doing their best to provide the best life for Raja that they could.

Other than that, we would just have loved a recipe for the lunch we prepared together, as we would like to make it again! If it were possible to offer interested guests a printed or email version of a recipe, that would be great.

Out of this World Experience!!!
JaneM8780 [TA], , Singapore

Everything about my experience with the Elephant Freedom Project was Amazing!!!

A big thank you to all the people of EFP for making my stay a memorable one!

- Mr Ananda, Mali, Ammah, Shashini , Devika, Gayan, Tim!!!
- Mr Chirantha & Gunarathna (Elephant Mahouts)

Not forgetting my four-legged friends :
- Bilky, Tina and the STAR of EFP RAJA.

Meeting all of you has been a blessing and the best thing that happened to me.

You guys have no idea what you have done for me and to what extent :)

I have also penned down my amazing experience with you.

Have a read if you like :

http://janem80.blogspot.sg/2015/07/raja.html

We'll meet again and I guarantee it! :)

Such an amazing experience with a elephant that is cared for so well!
Jameesara... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

I cannot recommend this project highly enough!! Raja the elephant, the lovely family, the cook, Tim, the mahouts and most especially Gayan the coordinator all made my time here so memorable! I stayed for 2 weeks and each day was given the opportunity to get more involved in the project, as well as getting a real insight in to life in Sri Lanka. The food was delicious - and learning to cook it all was a highlight, visiting the local english school and speaking with the children was a great experience, and of course getting to spend so much quality time with a beautiful elephant that is cared for so well was truly amazing! This is a project that i'm sure will continue to grow as tourists continue to educate themselves more on the alternatives to the cruel riding places and choose to visit a true elephant sanctuary. If you are an animal lover this is the only place you should visit!

Amazing experience!
JJParmar3... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

I stumbled upon the website for this project when researching a place to experience elephants in a happy environment where they're not exploited for tourist purposes and are treated well. The place definitely delivered on all of those things- there is currently one male elephant Raja at the project and although our group was big on that day (I've heard it's unusual to have such a big group) everyone at the project ensured we all got involved. First we took Raja for a walk, the only time we saw him in chains but that was for safety purposes and wasn't around his ankles or anything- didn't look uncomfortable at all. Then we learnt how to make Sri Lankan food which was a good cultural experience :) after this we were able to wash Raja which was such an amazing experience, loved it! We were with Gayan a volunteer who had a lot of knowledge about elephants which very nice :) everyone in the group was very friendly. There are no riding facilities because it is unethical to ride elephants and this is explained to you at the project. Unfortunately we had to leave early as we had a long drive ahead of us so didn't have the full day there but I would love to volunteer there for a few weeks!

1 night stay
Gary F [TA], ,

Great place to get close to elephants (in our case elephant - only one elephant at the project when we arrived but this didn't detract from the experience at all) which are being treated well and ethically. Family you stay with are lovely and Tim the owner is very helpful. Accommodation is basic but overall a good experience.

Not to be missed!
JitkaEtm [TA], , Kent, United Kingdom

My two teenage children and I spent a week at the project and left with many amazing memories. This is a unique place that profoundly understands and truly cares about elephants and its manager Tim is very passionate about changing the lifestyle of elephants used and abused in the logging or entertainment industries.
We had a unique opportunity to get close to two grown up elephants by helping to clean them in the river, accompanying them on walks through the jungle and cleaning their enclosure. The project coordinator who was a local was very knowledgable about elephants as well as life in Sri Lanka and filled in the gaps in our programme with teaching assignments in a local school, cooking lessons, a visit to a local Buddhist temple and elephant dung paper factory, a lesson in his native Senhala and taught us how to weave palm leaves for a roof shelter.
The accommodation was very comfortable and clean and the food fresh and delicious. The host family was extremely welcoming and we had a unique opportunity to experience how Sri Lankans live.
The whole experience was priceless and was definitely the highlight of our time in Sri Lanka. If you like elephants, this is the place to be!

A truly amazing day
deborah s [TA], , Huddersfield, United Kingdom

Both myself and husband had yearned to visit Sri Lanka for quite a long time.The main reason I must say was to see and experience the elephants.I always thought that as a lot of people do that we would visit pinewali.But once I began looking into it more closely I quickly changed my mind.Reading various reviews I realised that pinewali wasn't really quite the place I thought it was.perhaps it could be described as more of a money spinning excessive rather than what you could call a sanctuary.I was so happy when I stumbled upon the efp on the Internet ....It just sounded amazing and definitely sounded like something more of what we wanted to experience.Well I'm very very happy to say that the day we spent at the project was truly outstanding and completely lived up to all our expectations....well if not more so !!!We spent the day with Raja a 50 year old elephant who had only a week earlier been working in the logging industry.It was lovely to see how he was being cared for and how after an extremely hard life he was enjoying his retirement.It's clear to see Each and everyone of the people involved in project are extremely passionate about the welfare of the elephants and love what they do.Having the privilege of washing Raja in the river was definitely the highlight of the day but it was also great to be able to help prepare lunch with the family too.This place is unbelievable and well worth a visit if you really wish to see how an elephant should be cared for....no chains or bull hooks unnecessarily and no riding just lots of love,compassion and respect.exactly how an elephant should be treated.truly an awesome place !!!

Best way to see elephants!
Beth G [TA], , Essex, United Kingdom

We had a great time with the lovely staff here! Walking around with the elephants was amazing and being able to wash him in the stream! They truly respected the elephants and treated them correctly, without using bull hook unnecessarily! Our stay was great too, having a cooking class with delicious food and comfy surroundings. Would recommend to anyone wanting to see elephants in Sri Lanka in a humane way!

100% once in a lifetime experience
Alixcm78 [TA], ,

Having read the reviews for all the local Elephant Sanctuary's, we were pleased to find a place more interested in welfare than income. The experience was one we will never forget as we actually got to work with the team as opposed to sit back and take pictures. The day was varied and the group small enough to enjoy one on one time with a beautiful animal. The welfare of the animal and his handler was admirable along with the Dutch coordinators understanding of local culture and the need for tradition.

Amazing
Leisa_shi... [TA], , Kandy, Sri Lanka

We stayed at he elephant project for one night. The two days here were some of our favourites in Sri lanka. The family that own the home are one of the nicest families I have ever met and you can tell how much they enjoy helping run the project. They make you feel part of the family as soon as you arrive. The food is amazing and so is the tea. The elephant raja is treated excellently and everyone at the project has a lot of knowledge about elephants so will be able to answer any questions you have. I can only expect that this project will continue to thrive and get even better (if that's possible) when raja has been at the project longer (he had only been there less than a week when we visited) and they hopefully have another elephant to keep raja company. I will hopefully come back soon and spend longer than the two days. Keep up the good work :)

A Great Experience!
khelke [TA], , Patchogue, New York, United States

In March 2015 we brought a group of students to Sri Lanka for a school trip and had wanted to have a humane educational experience with elephants, so we booked with the Elephant Freedom Project (EFP). It was an excellent choice. The elephants are treated fairly and fed well (especially compared with other elephants in Sri Lanka) and the staff are very friendly and helpful. EFP was happy to accommodate our large group for a day and we enjoyed helping prepare lunch as much as we did feeding and washing the elephants. Overall it was a great experience and we were happy to contribute to a humane elephant project.
Our only gripe was that the employees weren't able to answer a lot of our questions about elephants. Being a school trip, most students had a lot of questions about elephants in general (such as "Why is riding elephants bad?" or "How many teeth/stomachs does an elephant have?") that our guide couldn't answer. Since two of the chaperones had already been to another elephant project we were able to answer most of these questions, but it was a bit dismaying to see that the guide could not answer our questions despite the presence of an elephant information wall outside of the project home.
We were also disappointed that during the morning excursion we were sent with a volunteer who was obviously on a gap year and didn't have much of a clue about elephants, let alone how to find her way out of a box. EFP should refrain from allowing unknowledgeable volunteers from leading group excursions with the elephants.

An amazing experience!!
Leigh W [TA], ,

The Elephant Freedom Project is completely different & unique (I visited one of the nearby Elephant Sanctuaries on a previous trip to Sri Lanka) The elephants here are well looked after and not ridden or left chained up all day in the sun!! I spent 2 days up close with the Elephants; walked with them through the village & through the nearby paddy fields a couple of times a day & washed them down in the river. It was an amazing experience & I'll definitely return to see Sujee & Wasthu again in the the future! Gayan the co-ordinator was very friendly & informative & the family I stayed with were very welcoming. Tim who runs the project is doing a great job!!

Two very happy Elephants and one very happy volunteer!
rosie s [TA], , Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

I didn't know quite what to expect when I arrived for a fist time solo traveller, volunteering for 3 weeks with elephants, but having since returned back home i can already tell you that I'm planning my next visit to The Elephant Freedom Project!!!

I have SO much love for the project, the two cheeky and beautiful elephants Sujee and Wasthu, the two great Mahouts Thilanka and Nishante, Tim the project founder and my Sri Lankan family Ananda, Malie & Shashini who are ever so friendly and welcoming from the moment you arrive, i could not ask for better hospitality and felt like i was one of the family! I can't forget Devika the amazing cook (I'm missing your dual and roti's mind!) and Gayan the friendly project Co-orindator who will now always be a friend of mine.

The experience of volunteering daily with the elephants was both amazing and personally rewarding. To be up close and personal with Sujee and Wasthu will be etched forever in my mind. Learning about their individual characters and habits, getting to walk with the elephants, enrichment activities, feed them and help bath them in the river were definite highlights for me, even cleaning out their enclosure of dung! They are treated VERY well and provided the best environment which mimics their life in the wild as close as possible. You work around the elephants, they don't work around you, if your late for a walk you best get running to catch them up! Not only was it a special experience to get to interact with elephants and their mahouts so closely, but I left feeling inspired and determined to spread the message as to how we can help improve elephant welfare, minimum use of chains or none at all if possible and no riding!

I met some volunteers who still questioned wether riding an elephant was ok…. Safety, care and respect for these elephants is hugely emphasised at TEFP project, by the end of those volunteers experience here i can tell you they never questioned it again after Tim explained why. Elephant riding is not on offer at this sanctuary, riding elephants shouldn’t be on anyone’s bucket list, if your want to ride an elephant then this project is most certainly not for you!

I learned more than I could have imagined during my 3 weeks volunteer stay at TEFP and shortly exploring the Kegalle area with help from Tim and the family and only hope i will be able to return to volunteer again to relive my experience!!

Thank you Tim, ol Forest of Dean girl here will be coming back :)

My kids enjoyed the safari
Reen1508 [TA], , Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

My kids enjoyed the elephant ride and bath with elephant. There was a sign not to tip the staff, however the staff keep on asking for tips.

I love the Elephant Freedom Project!
Bryony B [TA], , Tokyo Prefecture, Japan

I have had the privilege to visit the Project twice and I can not express how much admiration I have for the Project and the people who make it special. Not only are they encouraging fairer treatment of domestic elephants in Sri Lanka, they also offer their volunteers an unforgettable experience. They are changing the mind set of tourists and Sri Lankans alike by demonstrating a successful alternative to the cruel and degrading riding facilities. If you want to see some beautiful, happy elephants then this is the place for you. If you want to be welcomed into a lovely Sri Lankan family then go and spend some time at the Project (Ananda, Malie & Shashini are so wonderful!). If you are interested in improving the lives of elephants then go and meet Tim - one of the founders of the Project, who is truly a great man with such passion for elephants! It is an amazing place with a heart warming motivation behind it and you will not regret it if you go there!

Please support this project
jellybean... [TA], , Richmond, Canada

I spent a day and a night at the Elephant Freedom Project. The elephants are in as natural environment as possible without being in the wild. They are not ridden and they don't have to work. Walking the elephants into the rice paddies, seeing them rolling in the mud, scrubbing their backs in the river was an absolute joy - the elephants loved it too! I urge you to visit especially if you are staying at near by Kandy - it is a cheap tuk tuk drive and well worth the effort. You can visit for the day but it is worth the extra expense to stay overnight.

You must go !
kim p [TA], , Chichester, United Kingdom

We spent one day here and had an amazing experience. Tims passion about the welfare of the elephants is wonderful to see and we had a day we will always remember walking and bathing the elephants in the river. It was lovely to see them treated with such respect by everyone. The cooking class was also a highlight of the day and we were embraced as part of the family. It made our holiday in Sri Lanka very special thank you ! Kim x

Please go....!
Jane K [TA], , Brighton, United Kingdom

This project is wonderful. Its about elephant welfare and educating tourists. The owner Tim's enthusiasm is infectious and passionate and it was such a pleasure to support his efforts. They only allow very small groups so the elephants don't get stressed. To spend your day walking through little villages with these extraordinary creatures felt like such a privilege. Local people and children came out and waved...they obviously support the project too. Then to wash them in the river and see how relaxed and content the elephants were was a joy. Please don't go anywhere else in Sri Lanka to interact with elephants. Please, please don't ride elephants. Go and meet Tim, Sujee and Wasthu...if unfortunately elephants cannot be in the wild they should have the best possible life they can get. Special thanks to the family who taught us wonderful Sri Lankan cookery and Guyan and Rosie for spending the day with us. x

Great experience
Rach32308 [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

We spent 2 nights at the project with our 2 year old & 4 year old children & had a fantastic time! We were travelling with another family who also had children the same age so we did arrive with a lot of luggage & noise! We were instantly made to feel welcome by Tim & the Sri Lankan host family. We dropped off our bags & we went straight out to see the elephants. The children were able to go into the enclosure & hide food for the elephants which they loved doing & then watch as the two elephants searched for their lunch. We had missed the morning walk as we didn't arrive until lunch time so next stop was a lovely Sri Lankan lunch back at the house which we all thoroughly enjoyed after a long night travelling. The children got stuck into the Sri Lankan food too which was great.
The project did a great job at tailoring our itinery to such a young age group & allowed us to do a very short walk with the elephants in the afternoon (as our children just couldn't manage a long walk after a night flight & having such little legs!) They organised the elephant washing activity in the afternoon after giving us time to let the children have a nap! It meant they were really able to enjoy the activity & we have some great photos of our 2 year old washing the elephants in the river! Amazing experience for all of us.
The next day they organised a visit to the local English speaking school where we were able to get involved with their lessons & speak to the students. We all really enjoyed the morning & they organised some great games for us to play with the children. After the classroom activities we all went outside & played a game of cricket with the cricket set we had bought along to give the school. Great memories!
The Sri Lankan family whose home we stayed in were such lovely people & so great with our children. The food was delicious too & we enjoyed helping cook the evening meal on one of the nights & being shown how to make some of the delicious Sri Lankan food.
We were pleased we made the decision to visit the project after questioning whether it would be too much with such young children! It turned out to be a great success & we'd love to go back!

Amazing Experience
mayyouch [TA], , Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

We spent a day at the Elephant Freedom Project last week. It was amazing to see those elephants enjoying their daily rituals and get to be part of the whole thing. We loved the cooking class and our child had a great time helping in the kitchen and bathing the elephants down the river. What a great job those guys are doing! We hope to be able to go there again sometime in the future and maybe spend a night or two there.

A forward-thinking, totally fulfilling day out.
Charlie E [TA], ,

The aim of the project is really two-fold. First to provide the best possible home for it's 2 resident elephants, and secondly to educate people on the correct handling and treatment of elephants in captivity. The day is run in small groups of no more than 10 and includes walking with the elephants, a traditional Sri Lankan cooking lesson which you then get to eat, obviously, then we bathed the elephants and finally we took a trip to a local school and met some of the kids there who were learning English. This was a nice touch and added to an excellent, wholesome overall experience.

We shared our group with 2 families, another couple and solo travellers and it was an excellent friendly mixture.

Whilst not as cheap as the other elephant places you could go, the Elephant Freedom Project not only provided us with one of the our favourite and fulfilling experiences of Sri Lanka but it is also an extremely worthwhile cause with a long way to go. It would be lovely to come back in a few years and see the project owning more elephants.

Wonderful day with truly kind hosts
Dion D [TA], , London, United Kingdom

The idea behind the freedom project is to put the well being of their two young elephants first, too right as well. Elephants should not be made to carry people for rides or do tricks to entertain. They are beautiful, gentle but still wild animals.

The days requires booking in advance amd groups are small. Includes a few hours walking with the elephants, preparing a Sri Lankan lunch together and bathing the elephants in the river. We travelled with two young children and Tim our host could not have been more kind and considerate toward them - a heartfelt thank you!

if you are after a low cost ride on an abused elephant do not come here. If you care about these beautiful beasts a want to help raise the standard of care for the elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka in the company of people who love the elephants then definitely book a day (or longer) here.

Best Project
Deanna [TA], , San Diego, California

This review a little over due, but I cannot express how much I love this project. I have been to elephant orphanages in Thailand and Africa, this is by far the best experience. The elephants are treated kindly and provided the best environment which mimics their life in the wild as close as possible. I loved both the elephants and Sujee is especially gentle and kind. Everyone seems to know and understand their personalities well and it makes for incredible experience. My only regret is I wish I had spent a more time volunteering there, one day was not nearly enough time. If I ever find myself back in Sri Lanka this projects will be a must!!

Respect for Elephants
Kgiallon [TA], ,

Please!!! Educate yourselves on the treatment of the elephants before you visit anyplace featuring the sentient beings!!! They are not to be ridden on, or do tricks for us!!! There are excellent facilities that are respectful and caring to the elephants!! FIND them

LIFETIMES MEMORY'S
ForeSurre... [TA], , Surrey U,K.

The entire experience, brilliant to also meet people that are TOTALLY dedicated to the Elephants welfare and a great shame that they have to rely on charity.
A pleasure to see the volunteers working and playing so hard.

awesome experience with an excellent project
KmTres C [TA], , Andorra

I was pass one of the most incredible experience in my life. No only for the elephants, wash them, walk with them and help them... but also for the excellent propose of the project and the people how lives in the house of the project. Thank you very much

Best Day Ever!
Cindy G [TA], , Halifax, Canada

What a great project! The entire goal is to help the elephants and in the process we, as visitors, get to contribute too, while getting close to these beautiful animals. They have an environment that keeps everyone safe, including the elephants. In addition, you have many opportunities learn and see more of this beautiful country. I will definitely go back for more than one day :)

A unique and memorable experience with room to improve
Dima O [TA], , Beirut, Lebanon

We are very happy to have stumbled on this unique initiative. Our one-day visit to the project was overall a very good one as one gets an up close experience in the daily lives of these beautiful creatures (Wasthu and Sujee). The coordinator, Chaminda, is at the heart of this project, for he transmitted his passion and vast knowledge of elephants and the surrounding nature, and made sure that we felt welcomed and ready for an action-packed day. He also managed to fit in a visit to the Spice Garden, which is a must-see and which was not in the original schedule. He was always patient, attentive and friendly with us.
Back in the Project House, the lunch prepared by the host family was traditional and exceptionally delicious and included many vegetarian options. Wifi was also available, but the space lacked a common bathroom for one-day visitors.
As for the overall value for money, the fee was rather expensive for a one-day visit, so adding breakfast or snacks could be a suggestion. We were surprised and felt uncomfortable when the owner of the project approached us towards the end of the day requesting a donation for the project to cover running costs. To our understanding, these costs were already covered in the fee. We would have gladly contributed to this wonderful project if this donation was communicated in a more formal way through the website or a donation box. To add to that, the payment options are also limited, as we come from a country that does not process PayPal payments and had to rely on wire transfers which are cumbersome when away from country of origin.
That said, this is a project that we support and would love to visit again for its uniqueness and potential to grow further.

Marya and Dima

Wonderful time with the elephants
Colin S [TA], , Woking, United Kingdom

My wife and I spent two nights at the Elephant Freedom Project and had a fantastic time. Accommodation is fairly basic, but the hospitality is superb, the food excellent and the area beautiful. Tim, who runs the Project is passionate about elephants and this was clear in the way the elephants were kept and treated compared to the other elephant encounter locations in the area - this in itself may be the reasons for selecting EFP. The guide we had, Chaminder, was superb. He spoke great English and was just a lovely person. The same can be said for the family that own the house - truly lovely, always smiling and they made you really feel that their house was also yours during your stay - wonderful people.

We were asked a couple of times at the end of our stay what could be improved? The answer is "not much". Ideas for consideration were:

Better guard against mosquitoes - perhaps nets over windows. We got a couple of bites, but nothing bad.
An information sheet/guides for guests to local walks and attractions.
Ensuring where possible the elephants are kept together - minor but one became distressed when it was left on its own. Tim was concerned about this, but it is the way the Mahout who look after the elephants do things.

These are small points. We really enjoyed our stay and would thoroughly recommend it to travellers who want great value for money.

Thanks to the team for a great stay! A fabulous close encounter with well treated elephants.

Unique experience!
Femke V [TA], , Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We were so glad we found out about this project! The organisation is very kind and has its heart at the right place. They truly care about the two beautiful elephants: Sujee and Wasthu. We volunteered just for one day, but already felt really engaged. We cooked with the family, walked with the elephants, fed them, washed them and made a ball as a toy for Wasthu. It's so special to be this close to these majestic animals, in a non-exploiting way. This is what makes the project unique. Sujee and Wasthu have a large enclosure which is made as natural as possible and they are not chained (only at night).

The advance booking and payment requires some patience, but it's totally worth the effort.

We hope this starting project will grow and believe the highly committed team will always strive for the wellbeing of elephants of Sri Lanka. We highly recommend it!

A very good close up Elephant experience
Stavanger... [TA], , Stavanger, Norway

We had a lovely day together with the elephants on our day visit! I truly believe the elephants are among the happiest in the Pinnawala area. The intentions for this place is so good and there is no doubt that Tim has a big heart where "his" elephants are in focus! I just hope that he will be able to achieve what he is intending to :) To be frank, Tim does not know so much about the wild life in Sri Lanka apart from the elephants so we were very happy that he had such an excellent helper, a man who could tell us about the plants and wildlife as well as guiding us in the kichen for the cooking lesson (earlier working for Canon Asia). We had two walks with the elephants, one in the morning and one in the afternoon- through a local village which was very interesting and nice. After the afternoon walk we were scrubbing the elephants with coconut shells in the river. Amazing. The only drawback is that this trip is very much more expensive than the other places (where most of the places are not very elephant friendly at all) around Pinnewala. I really like and support the idea behind the Elephant Freedom Project but are worried that only people that are extremely convinced that all the other places are bad places where they abuse the elephants will bother to pay the trippel amount of fee (or even more). Anyway, we wish the elephants the best and hope for good luck in the project!

Felt like home
Susie_lou... [TA], ,

I stayed with Tim and the inspiring family for 3 nights in October 2014 and wish I stayed longer, I can not stress enough if you want to see happy elephants close up- this is the place to go, or see them in the wild, no where else. The elephants are so cute, well looked after and loved by everyone including the locals (they little celebrities- the local people come running out to see them when you walk with them), it's great to stay and volunteer as then you get a real idea of what they are like, what its like for the local people and also you get to spend quality time with an amazing Sri Lankan family, I can not stress how lovely they are. You also get to do lots of other things like cooking classes (the food is AMAZING), school visits, spice gardens, tea plantations etc. I booked a yoga class whilst there and the mum and daughter joined in with me which was a lot of giggles. The dad has a great personality too always chatting and making me laugh. He and Tim helped me plan my next part of trip which was so helpful. I want to come back and stay longer!!! Miss you all, Susie xxxx

Amazing experience!
Georgia H [TA], , Dorset, United Kingdom

Tim and the lovely family had provided me and a friend with such an amazing experience, we stayed for 10 days, and were sad too leave.
Each day, they kept us busy and entertained, with activities such as, washing, feeding and walking the elephants, we also had the amazing experience to go down to a local school and speak too the children that were learning English.
The family that we stayed with were all so welcoming and lovely. This project is an amazing thing for the elephants, I seriously recommend coming here if you only want too see the elephants being healthy and free, not if you want too ride the elephants.
I honestly could not thank the whole project enough for making us have the time of our life. We will defiantly be returning next year.

Great experience
boop2008 [TA], , london

Went for the day here instead of going to Pinnawela elephant orphanage after reading some of the reviews, and we were not disappointed. If you are looking for elephant riding, this is not for you. If you are hoping to see 70 elephants taking a bath, this is not for you. If however you want to get up close and personal with 2 baby elephants, learn more about the,, touch them, bathe them, walk with them and see the ongoing project Tim and his team are working on, this is the experience to go for. Tim is very knowledgeable and engaging and answers all questions candidly, and in a very interesting way. We saw how he also got other guests' kids engaged in the experience and we left the place extremely delighted we made the right choice. Highly recommended.

If you care about the Asian elephants it is well worth a visit!
natg03201... [TA], , Melbourne, Australia

My kids and I are Ambassadors for Elephant Nature Park in Thailand and the Asian elephant so we really wanted to see what was happening in other projects. Because this one was the only one in Sri Lanka that offered a volunteering experience that did not involve riding elephants we chose this one. We are so glad that we did.
While far from ideal when you compare it to something like ENP, which the project founders one day hope to emulate, it offers the two elephants who live there a taste of freedom which is otherwise non-existent for domesticated Sri Lankan elephants.
Volunteers get to walk with these two young elephants twice a day for up to 2 hrs through spectacular countryside in which many different types of wildlife are encountered. Each day volunteers can help wash the elephants in the river and entertain them during their play time.
Unfortunately they have had to be chained in their enclosure during the wet season due to the risk of slipping in the mud (we actually saw Washtu slip over when we came down the hill from a walk but fortunately he did not hurt himself) but while we were there a drain had been dug and this week they were hoping to lay the concrete so that the chains could come off for good. I have to add here that Tim had fashioned garden hoses for the chains to sit inside to make it less uncomfortable for the elephants.
Apart from being around the elephants and watching them be elephants, which obviously provides for great photographs, volunteers also get to go and visit a local English Language school and help the students practise their conversation. This is a really fun activity.
Tim is passionate about his dream for the future of these elephants but he is also open and frank about the uphill battle he faces as he deals with Sri Lankan culture. The project really does rely on the help from volunteers.
If you want to help the Sri Lankan elephants and be a part of the development of this great project then I really urge you to visit. You will come away with a real appreciation for what's involved and obviously with greater understanding and love for these wonderful animals.

Amazing Project!
Natalie W [TA], , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

I stayed at the project for 2 weeks in July and had an amazing time! You can tell the elephants are well cared for, healthy and happy. In a country such as Sri Lanka where these magnificent creatures are often mistreated and exploited it was such a relief to find this project which genuinely has the animals' best interests. I think it's really important to engage with Tim and the other workers to make the most of the experience. The project is doing so much good for these elephants in a country where it is often difficult to do so. It was incredible to be able to see them walking without chains, grazing the land and just being elephants!

Would highly recommend staying at the project so you can experience the food and family feel of the place but also visit a local school and the disabled home which were real highlights for me. Don't expect to be riding the elephants though, they're wild animals and the project tries to enable them to be as natural as possible with the facilities they have.

Love it!
Olivia G [TA], , Melbourne, Australia

When we arrived they already had made us lunch. Are beds were made and the family we stayed with were so nice. In the morning you have breakfast and then take the elephants for a walk where you get to see amazing things. Then you head back and take the elephants to the river. Then it is lunch and after that we take the elephants for a walk again and then back to the river. You also help with food and cleaning enclosure.

Fantastic
Louisesam... [TA], ,

I visited the elephant freedom project for a Week in late September, and had a fantastic time everyone was really friendly and made me feel very welcome and the elephants were just amazing I didn't want to leave. It was a trip of a life time and would love to visit again

Wonderful Experience!
plicetplo... [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

What a beautiful day we spend here!
Welcome in a gorgeous Sri Lankan House, we spend the morning for a walk with the Elephants, then cooking class ( a great experience!!) and then another walk in the afternoon followed by washing these beautiful animal.

If you are animal lovers, this is were you should go, you will be close to them, and enjoy fully the experience. We were lucky to be only 2 couples there during this day so could enjoy even more !

Thank you JR for your help before the day for all the arrangements, thank you to the family for they warm welcome and thank you Tim for your time and explaining the project.

We highly recommand all elephant lover to spend a day or a week or more there and help to develop this project!

Happy Elephants
Greenaalm [TA], , Singapore, Singapore

We visited in October with our boys aged 10 and 12, having arranged at short notice as we were trying to switch from a pre-booked visit to another establishment. We were originally told by our Tour Operator that Elephant Freedom Project was no longer active, and had taken their word for it. We wanted to see happy elephants, and were looking for something special, not your run of the mill tourist/elephant interaction. The cost was significantly higher than for visiting other elephant establishments, but the experience you get is really so different. This place is run for the elephants not the tourists. We went for a long walk (7km) with the elephants through beautiful countryside and chatted the whole way with a group of local students who were keen to get some English practise. They were very engaging and enthusiastically pointed things out along the way and being able to chat to some local people contributed a lot to our enjoyment of the day. We found it particularly funny how some of them were so frightened of the elephants they would not go near them, but learnt the reasons why this attitude is common among locals. We then came back for a lovely home cooked meal which we were meant to help prepare but our walk over-ran as we had to take a longer route than planned. We didn't mind this in the slightest as we still got to eat the yummy food and rest our legs a bit before the next activity which was taking the elephants on another walk down to the river to bathe them. Tim was most helpful throughout and most interesting to talk to about the Project and the plight of elephants in Sri Lanka in general. Thank you so much for enabling us to come, we will always remember Sujee and naughty little Washtu! Good luck for the future.

Genuine project to help elephants and the local people
LiddyL [TA], , Cologne, Germany

My husband and I were looking for a place we could get close to elephants, but where the well-being of the animals was put first. We found a couple "elephant orphanages" online, but reading up more closely, we didn't feel comfortabel with how the elephants were treated there. Then we found out about the Elephant Freedom Project, run by two Dutch guys and a Sri Lankan family.
This place was exactly what we were looking for. Apart from being close to two sweet little elephants, we had the opportunity to meet the local people of the village which was another highlight in itself. The warm hospitality of these people and the sweet curiousness of the kids was very heart warming and humbling at the same time.
Our coordinator Amarasiri was wonderful and helped us learn more about elephants and the local life. The lunch we cooked together with the family was delicous and we felt very welcomed by everyone.
We wish we had more than just one day to spend there, but even for a day we took home an amazing experience, walking with elephants, watching them play and washing them in the river - will stay for us forever. Next time we come to Sri Lanka we will be back here, and then for a longer time!
If the well-being of the animals is your main priority, then this is your place to go - Sujee and Washtu are two happy little elephants and you can see it for yourself!

Unforgettable
trinny201... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

I stayed at the Elephant Freedom Project for a month in July and had a completely amazing experience that will last with me forever. The work that is being done at the project is of a monumental significance to the elephants there... They are extraordinary creatures and it was incredible to see them being able to grow and mature and play together. I have a huge amount of respect for everyone who has made the project what it is, and really miss being there!!

As many of the other reviews have probably mentioned, The Elephant freedom Project is unlike any other organisation in the area in the sense that it is wholly and positively concerned with the welfare and happiness of the Ellies. There is no riding and the elephants are able be exactly what they are, elephants. They are happy and healthy.

I would recommend The EFP to anyone that is passionate about these amazing creatures as it is a truly worthwhile and meaningful cause. I wish the team all the best and sincerely hope that they will be able to change the lives of many other elephants in the future, as there are a lot more out there that aren't as lucky. Hello Mr Ananda, Mali, Shashini, Amarisiri, Davika, Tim, Nishante, Telange and uma!!

I love what they're doing
bradfrank... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

great model to change the way elephants are treated in Sri Lanka. Its difficult with so much competition and everyone wants to ride an elephant but we need to change the way people think and inform them about what is going on - the elephants are chained all day, no interaction with eachother, little food and no shelter, not to mention no rest...give your money to this cause not the others.

Inspired
Christine... [TA], , Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Hospitality was second to none and experience humbling. Everyone here is passionate about the well-being of Sujee and Washtu and all are working hard to make a difference in the way elephants are viewed in society. Would recommend to any and all

The best part of our trip to Sri Lanka!
AFurman [TA], , Fanham Common

Wonderful place to work with the elephants, Sujee and Washtu. Accommodation is very basic - but we enjoyed our stay here more than at the beautiful hotels we stayed in. Tim and his team are so caring. The other volunteers made the experience so much fun. We did not want to leave!
We went to Pinnewale for an hour - it was very distressing - if you care about the elephants, choose somewhere they are not chained all day! We taught at the local Englsih school - one of the highights of our trip - wonderful children, who were so happy to have us there.

Magical special time had...never want to leave
samib36 [TA], , HUDDERSFIELD

It is hard to not fall in love with the values and love shown by the project team, the family you live with and the experience encountered in Sri Lanka overall
I have spent 2weeks living breathing, giggling and totally loving the whole time I have had here.the elephants, the family and the days full or not so full list of activities( if you so wish)
IT is very much your holiday to select what and how much you want to experience, and the team go all out to make sure your trips, or arrangements or general advice and needs are met

iVe particularly enjoyed the cooking classes, seeing the Ellie's relaxed and having fun as much as possible, the daily walks in the paddy fields make for amazing photos and my time in the schools over the past 2weeks

all meals are taken with the family, other volunteers ...and are an amazing experience...I am a convert...Sri Lankan food is just the best!!!

this place is truly unique, and one of a kind from any elephant experiences I have witnessed in other countries
you will not regret the choice of living with the family and sharing the elephants daily antics....

Unforgettable Experience
Veronica... [TA], ,

I stayed at the elephant freedom project for 2 weeks and had one of the best experiences in my life.
An amazing experience working with 2 young elephants Sujee and Washtu, living with the locals.
The family i stayed with were so lovely and welcoming, it was so hard to leave this beautiful project.
The priority of this project is the welfare of the elephants and they are working very hard to get it.
I really recommend this project to anyone.

Everyone should come and experience this!
SharWa [TA], , Harelbeke, Belgium

When you participate in this project you really get to experience 2 happy elephants and you realise how lucky Sujee and Washtu are: they are free and not exploited by using them all day for tourist rides! When you visit Sri Lanka, you unfortunately see some other situations as well...
We recommend this project to everyone that cares about these wonderful animals and wants to get to know them better. If you want to do something meaningful, this is the place to be!
Besides the project itself, you also get to meet some amazing people! Tim, Amarasiri, the family, the mahouts and the other volunteers... they all make the project an unforgettable experience! We can't wait to go back :)

A 'must do' experience in Sri Lanka
johnpb78 [TA], , UK

We were a bit wary on arrival, as we went for a walk up the hill to find the two Elephants chained in their enclosure for the night. However it was obvious that this was due to the door of their enclosure not being ready yet, so we overlooked the point in view of the good things we saw during our 24 hours at the Project.

We arrived in time for dinner, and were served a beautiful Sri Lankan meal and enjoyed the company of the diverse group of others staying at the project.

I slept on the top bunk in a shared room, and admit that despite coming from a climate hotter than Sri Lanka's, I did struggle as the fan on the floor was making no difference to those on the top bunks, and the fan in the opposite corner of the room was too ineffective to reach the top bunks - but I did manage a few hours sleep. Toilets and room were spotlessly clean.

In the morning, after a nice Sri Lankan style breakfast, everyone literally 'mucked in' to clean out the Elephant enclosure of dung, which surprisingly was largely odour free and not as unpleasant as expected!

After this, we walked through the village, paddy fields and river for nearly 3 hours, where the two beautiful Elephants enjoyed eating what they could from the roadside & the fields, finishing off playing in the river. I spotted Wastu steal a banana from a shop as we walked past which was cute and seems that it may have become a ritual, one of the staff told us that if there had been no bananas there at that particular shop, he would complain loudly!

We then spent time in the kitchen preparing lunch which was as enjoyable as it was informative, lunch was almost certainly the best meal I had in Sri Lanka with several meat and vegetarian dishes, there was plenty to keep everyone happy.

In the afternoon we joined the elephants around their enclosure to play 'enrichment games' - which involved the increasingly frustrated Wastu trampling on the empty boxes whilst Sujee seemed to find the lions share of the boxes containing fruit.

Final activity of the day was to take the elephants down to the river and watch/participate in washing them. Even though everyone helped out, the mahouts ensured that they personally cleaned every inch of the elephant, which left some feeling inadequate, but it was good to see them taking such meticulous care over the elephants' welfare.

For us, as 24 hour 'volunteers' we were there to take part in the daily life of the Sri Lankan domestic elephant and we got out of it exactly what we wanted and expected. The timings were relaxed, so the day was totally stress free and ample time to chill between activities. However the longer term volunteers did mention issues with a lack of variation of the schedule, and as Clare in the previous review said, education about the life, care and plight of elephants in Sri Lanka may make the experience more engaging, but the project is small and evolving and I'm sure these things will be taken into account for the future.

I will definitely return here in the future and wish everyone at the project well for the future.

Great
Clare2138 [TA], , Sri Lanka

Went to the project for three days, had a fantastic time from all points of view. The elephants have a good life not being mistreated at all plenty of food and great volunteers who clean after them every morning. I am waiting to see pictures of the gate being finished so they will never see a chain again! Great hosts, one immediately feels at home. The food is excellent and cooking with Mali is the best. One should know that we slept in bunk beds in shared rooms! And that there is only cold water for showers.
I recomend that they should add some learning time both about elephants and Sri Lanka

Elephants the way its meant to be
Louise C [TA], , Sydney, Australia

Oh wow. What an experience taking two elephants for a two hour walk through a village. The elephants - unshackled and free to eat what they want and wander where they want, and then give them a wash in the river. This was a wonderful wonderful experience. It all about the elephants welfare. If you want to ride an elephant and lots of 'razzle dazzle' then this is not the place for you. If you want an intimate, natural interaction with this magnificent animal then this place is a must. Everyone is very hospitable and passionate about what they do. Its still early days for the project and kinks are still being ironed out. This should not deter anyone who really cares about elephants and who really supports their welfare. I think its a pity that there are not more places like this in Sri Lanka.

The best experience ever!
karinebru... [TA], , Montreal, Canada

This project is amazing!! You can pass a day with the 2 wonderful elephants and juste share great moments with them! The most important thing is that the elephants can just enjoy their lifes without any exploitation conditions! They look really happy and healthy! You really have to go there if you have the chance!!

magical day
Ruth W [TA], , Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My younger daughter's favourite animal is the elephant, and after a tough year for the family, I planned our first trip to Asia around a day's volunteering at the Elephant Freedom Project, having been put off visiting Pinnewala through reading reviews on Tripadvisor. I couldn't have chosen a better place! I and both my daughters had a truly wonderful and unforgettable experience on 15 July, and it not only met, but exceeded our expectations. The five volunteers who were staying for a longer period of time were all really friendly and welcoming. The hosts were equally hospitable and nothing was too much trouble, including a nut free alternative to the delicious lunch we all helped prepare. The elephants were magnificent and it was a true privilege to spend the day in such close proximity to them. Erin particularly enjoyed helping to wash them in the river at the end of our day there. Thanks to everyone involved in the project - this is great work and the way forward - I will keep spreading the word about you!

Love every moment of it
Alva C [TA], ,

If you're an animal lover and you truly care about the welfare of elephants, then this is the right place for you! At this place, you will see happy elephants with smiley faces who are not chained up, not used for riding or entertaining tourists, but are simply enjoying themselves in a loving and caring environment. The project founder Tim is a real elephant enthusiast and started this project hoping to improve lives of domestic elephants in Sri Lanka. Lots and lots of elephants in Sri Lanka (and other countries) are being taken away from their families, abused, harshly beaten, and forced into carrying tourists and performing tricks. Please do not go to riding places or any other elephant orphanages as this contributes to the mistreating of elephants. At this project, visitors and volunteers learn that we don't need to ride elephants to enjoy them. It is a much more rewarding experience to watch them roam freely without chains, play in the mud, and walk with them in the neighborhood. I stayed there for one week as a volunteer, and the experience is memorable for a life time!

The complete elephant experience
Heidi L [TA], , Hobart, Australia

Wow. I cannot rave about this project enough. There was nothing bad about my experience at the Elephant Freedom Project. I loved every minute.

When deciding to volunteer in Sri Lanka with elephants, I did a lot of research to make sure I chose the right location. And I’m so glad I did. Sujee and Wasthu, the gorgeous elephants here are well treated and very happy. They live in their enclosure at the back of the house where they can happily roam around without chains, bathe in the mud, eat lots of food and participate in lots of enrichment games.

Sujee and Wasthu have a great life (they are one of a few in Sri Lanka who are well treated and enjoy freedom). If they are not in their enclosure, you can find them enjoying a long daily walk around the neighbourhood, where they visit paddy fields and laneways where they say hello to passer-byes and munch on lots of fresh food. Or they might be in the river enjoying a wash or splash.

As a volunteer here, you get to live in the house and be a member of the family. It is a very comfortable house with spacious bedrooms, beds that have mosquito nets and a well-equipped clean bathroom.

Being a member of the family you get to eat the food they are eating (which is absolutely delicious), participate in their daily conversations, learn how to cook Sri Lankan food and learn Singalese if you wish. I felt like a part of the family already after the second day!

I was so happy working with the elephants. You get to bathe and walk with them, develop enrichment games for them and clean their enclosure. But I was so surprised that the volunteering experience was much more than that. I also visited the local English speaking class where I talked to the students, the local disabled home where I helped with craft projects and local businesses where for example, I was shown how paper products can be made from elephant dung!

I was most impressed that all the people involved in the project (ie the owners, project coordinator, family and mahouts – elephant carers) are caring, kind and totally committed to the cause of improving elephant welfare in Sri Lanka. It was especially great to see that the mahouts genuinely care about their elephant and treat them with love, respect and kindness.

I felt blessed to be accepted as part of the family and local community. I learnt so much, not just about caring for elephants but also about the culture and life in Sri Lanka. And I can’t wait to come back! And hopefully when I do, there are more people treating elephants with the love and respect they deserve.

Fantastic time
Sophie G [TA], ,

Came here with 3 friends, all girls in our 19's/20's, we had booked in to so the elephant wash at 3pm but as we had never caught a bus before we over estimated how long it would take and got there at 11am, despite this we were greeted by mr Ananda with a very warm welcome! We were quickly taken to view the elephants with Tim as he explained all the ways that efp are trying to ensure that these elephant are treated fairly and looked after in a stimulating environment with lots of socialisation. As we were so early we took a walk down to the spice garden (roughly a 5 minute walk) and were taught all about the herbal remedies used in Sri Lanka and some Sri Lankan history, they also have us some amazing complementary tea and massage which you should tip for, however they will not ask for a set amount, the hair removal cream is fantastic I now have a blob of smooth on my arm where I asked them to demonstrate. We then came back for lunch cooked for us by the family, this was a traditional Sri Lankan curry which was delicious, are with Mr Ananda and his family which was lovely! We then went down and spent time washing the elephants before returning back to mr Anandas for our evening meal and bed for the night. The elephants here seem to be very happy they are free to roam during the day, they currently have to be chained at night in order to prevent them hurting themselves as the their enclosure is not finished. This is a much better option for travellers who actually care about the welfare of the elephants and is a stark contrast to the treatment of the elephants at other so called rescue centres where they're forced to carry people from 8am till 4pm every day and aren't allowed to socialise with each other!

Can't Help But Smile! :)
smellyoch... [TA], , Kuala Lumpur

I didn't have that much time in Sri Lanka but I'd wanted to spend some time with elephants. I was disheartened when I saw that many well-known places were tourist-driven and don't actually treat the elephants well. Luckily, I came across the Elephant Freedom Project. After going through the website, the Facebook page and the reviews on Trip Advisor, I knew this project was for me.

Tim was very helpful in answering all my queries as well as making a special arrangement for my half-day visit.

Following Tim's directions, I took the Colombo A/C bus from Kandy and a short tuk-tuk ride to the project. My morning started with breakfast and I was joining 2 more volunteers for the day. Sujee & Wasthu greeted us at the door, all ready for their morning walk. It's such a refreshing change to see them having the chance to walk without restraints while being under the watchful eye of their mahouts. They were so adorable! They'd get distracted by all sorts of yummy plants while we walked so we're really following their pace. We spent a good amount of time watching them wander around the lush paddy fields. It's so heartwarming to see them happily flapping their ears while I got beautiful photo opportunities. Sujee is so gentle, sweet and a tolerant big sis to Wasthu, the cheeky little boy who is so entertaining. After the walk, we took them for a swim and they were truly enjoying themselves! I don't think I've ever seen elephants having so much fun.

During my short but very sweet time at the Elephant Freedom Project, not only did I got to spend quality time with the elephants and learn more about them, I've also gained new friendships through the great conversations we've had. My time at the project ended with a delicious homecooked Sri Lankan lunch.

I had a great time at the Elephant Freedom Project and I'm very proud of Tim and his team for the wonderful job that they're doing. It's not an easy task and it takes a lot of support and educating the public. Well done and keep it up!

Beautiful project
Poe1 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

The Elephant Freedom Project is doing some amazing work. This is, we understand, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.

My wife and I volunteered there for a couple of weeks between us and we experienced how much love and care is being shown to these elephants.

We also helped by digging soil, planting grass and feeding, walking and washing the Elephants. Sujee (5 year old female) and Washtu (4 year old male) were so sweet, sensitive and intelligent.

The Sri Lankan people we met were good hearted and generous and the project provides several jobs to the local community. We also accepted the kind invitation to visit a mentally and physically challenged home with wonderful residents and a local school to meet and talk to the enthusiastic children. This project is helping both the elephants and the local community.

The project is relatively young but has a beautiful vision, intent and heart. More support from volunteers and tourists would ensure that this kind of project expands and replicates itself across Sri Lanka which would be a great thing.

Love to Sujee, Washtu and all involved at the Project.

A great place for elephants!
brandon_q... [TA], , Minneapolis, Minnesota

We volunteered for one full day at EFP and couldn't be more pleased with our experience. After learning more about elephant tourism and the abuse they can encounter, we were happy to dedicate our time to a project that helps elephant welfare. It's clear that they treat the elephants with respect and give them the attention and love they deserve! They are a beautiful species and Tim and the rest of the staff were notably passionate about them! Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a great way to interact with elephants and support the project!

Excellent project
SharonACB... [TA], , Brighton, uk

Amazing day volunteering with 2 young elephants, Sujee and Washtu. The elephants seem to be genuinely happy and Tim and his team are doing all they can to allow them a free existence. Bull hooks are not used and chains are only used on 1 foot whilst walking through the town until the elephants get used to the route then they wont be used. They still have freedom to lift and lower their heads for food and there were no sores, scratches or any foul play at all!!!The new home for them is certainly roomy and boy do the elephants love to play in the bath. We shared an experience with them in the river that made me laugh for hours, the little one loves piggybacking the bigger one, hours of fun. Whilst playing in the river they are completely chain free, no hooks or stick prodding them. Enrichment is provided daily . We met some amazing villagers who gave us apples and mangos to feed the elephants, they certainly like to eat. Tim's team are extremely knowledgeable on which plants the elephants can and cant eat, was a pleasure spending time with them. Much much better place than Pinniwala and Millenium. This is certainly not your typical tourist attraction and you dont have to tip the mahouts to take a photo, the interaction with the animals is very personal and hours of fun to be had. We also got to make a beautiful Sri Lankan curry with a really lovely family. Tim certainly puts the elephants first and cares hugely about their welfare. This is not a large commercial outfit which is great, unique in its existence and certainly the best elephant project Sr Lanka has on offer.

Just how it should be
TheTorrin... [TA], ,

We decided to visit EFP after not feeling comfortable with the some of the reviews on here about Pinawalla and MEF. I couldn't give my money and time to project's that I felt weren't putting the elephants first so after reading the great reviews about EFP we went there.

It was my son's birthday and he got to sit in the river whilst the elephants were having a paddle. He then got to stroke them and feed them some food. Tim informed us all about the work the EFP are doing to create a natural environment for the animals to live in and experience on a day to day basis. No riding is allowed and the elephants are not chained or prodded with sticks. In short the elephants come first and profits afterwards.

Initially you are disappointed with how little you get to touch them or the fact they don't do rides but this isn't Disney. No tourist conveyor belt and commercialism. Its about educating people and protecting elephants. Well worth a trip and if your not filled with admiration for the 2 Dutch brothers who have invested all their money into this project for the love of elephants then I'll be amazed.

Keep up the good work.

An elephant sanctuary for the elephants!
Elistaph [TA], , Newcastle, Australia

This place is a fantastic , an elephant friendly alternative to pinnawala or millenium foundation. Currently 2 young elephants reside here - Sujee and Washtu. The elephants welfare is foremost. Tim and his team have thought hard about the best way to safely contain the elephants while allowing them freedom in the enclosure and space to pursue natural elephant behaviours such as dust baths and foraging for food. Walks, river baths and enrichment games enhance these elephants lives.
There is a no tips policy which is a pleasant change from the daily assault on the wallet that is expected in Sri Lanka.
Our girls were initially disappointed when we told them they would not get an elephant ride but after visiting elephant freedom project they understood the issues that make the lives of " tourist elephants" often miserable and were so happy to be up close and personal with well cared for elephants.
10 out of 10 Tim.

Happy Elephants make Happy Visitors
Vanuavixe... [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Me and my 8yr old son visited the Elephant Freedom Project in mid April. We had also visited Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage a couple of days previous. We'd read reviews of both places and I wanted to see the difference for myself. The Elephant Orphanage, whilst having loads of elephants is very faceless, commercialised and scheduled with very little time with the elephants and some practices which are rather questionable. In comparison, the Elephant Freedom Project was relaxed, personal and unhurried with a clear focus on the welfare of the elephants being the absolute number one priority. The elephants are well trained and respond to vocal commands, meaning they do not have to be hauled around with chains or prodded with pointed sticks. This makes it very safe for even children to approach them, pet them and feed them.
We started our visit with a 3 hours walk through the jungle during which we watched the elephants taking mudbaths and chasing storks and fed them mangoes and grasses as we ambled along. Then it was bath time in the river where me and my son were able to wash them clean of the very muddy mud! In the afternoon we played enrichment games, hiding fruit in their (very large and imaginatively designed) enclosure, which my son found great fun. We were sorry to leave. The volunteers and the family really care about these beautiful creatures and although there are currently only 2 elephants, they are both amazing personalities and the small size of the operation means you get a much more personalised and memorable experience than at the bigger operations down the road.

Why should you visit the Elephant Freedom Project? Ill tell you why…
Taisha_Mc... [TA], , Telford, United Kingdom

Get away from all the hustle and mayhem of the office, and take a walk in the majestic jungles of Sri Lanka. Channel your “Tarzan” or “Jane”, and enjoy morning and evening walks with the beautiful elephants. Breath in the Sri Lankan fresh air, feel the warm breezes, hear the birds singing, and village children playing…

My time in Sri Lanka truly was an unforgettable one. I’ve always being fascinating with elephants, but actually being able to bond with elephants on a one to one basis, truly was a dream come true.

One memory I will forever treasure, was my day at the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, we had the opportunity to meet and teach the younger monks. I can’t say enough how rewarding and humbling that experience was, and I will forever be grateful to the Elephant Freedom Project for giving me that experience. The monks showed us the upmost appreciation for our time there, which made my heart melt, and I was reduced to tears, because I don’t think they realised how much of a blessing it was to even be able to be in their presence.

The cultural experience alone is a reason to visit Sri Lanka, but the project offers so much more… It offers you a home from home. You are treated like part of the family, and shown so much genuine love.
I visited the project in October 2013, and I and Shashini (the daughter of the beautiful family) still stay in touch regularly thru email. I left the project with long lasting friends from Sri Lanka.


Life is too short not to live! See the world from someone else’s eyes, and come to Sri Lanka!


I've uploaded some of my personal pictures from my experience, so you can see :)



Taisha Mccoy.

What an amazing place
Ann R [TA], , Negombo, Sri Lanka

I have just spent two weeks in this amazing place being welcomed into the home of such a warm and delightful family. It has been a priviledge to spend time here in such close proximity to the elephants Sujee & Washtu, watching as the project evolves from its new beginnings. I plan to go back next year and see the progress. There is no greater experience than to see and hear the flap of a happy elephants ears, stunning :-)

Life changing :)
Ellie-Ros... [TA], ,

An amazing, life changing experience, not only to work for and care for these majestic creatures up close but to see first hand how they interact and live freely, learning and appreciating what the team at the elephant freedom project do and to be a part of that :) A must for not just animal lovers but for anyone looking for something fun and heart warming. The host family were full of love and welcomed us into their family like we were part of it, Tim and Amarasiri full of enthusiasm and inspiration for the elephants, their freedom and all those who wanted to be part of that. the whole family embraced our craziness with their arms wide open! :) Two weeks i shall never forget!

Ellie-Rose
England.

Unforgettable!
Hansu77 [TA], , Hyvinkaa, Finland

I joined Elephant Freedom Project for one week in March 2014 and it was my first experience with elephants. Project is well organized, all arrangements worked as planned, and our daily project activities (like walking with elephants and enrichment games) were highlights each day. Our project coordinator Amarasiri was very friendly, informative and helpful at all times, and he also took care of our safety when we were around these giants. Living with a lovely and welcoming Sri Lankan family was absolutely wonderful. Cooking and dining curries together with the family and learning about this rich culture was once in a lifetime experience.

My week was also very eye opening in many ways: in developing countries like Sri Lanka animal welfare is unfortunately unknown to majority of people. Town of Kegalle is the elephant riding capitol of Sri Lanka, and riding safaris is big business in the area. Sadly these riding safari places (of which some call themselves misleadingly "sanctuaries"!!) mean suffering through the torturous crush, health issues like spinal injuries, mistreatment, being chained for days and nights… It will take years to educate both locals and tourists, but luckily with EFP there is now an alternative to spend time with elephants without causing them further harm.

If you want to travel responsibly and also experience these giant creatures, join Elephant Freedom Project to witness happy elephants taking mud baths, walks on rice fields and meeting locals. Be part of the change and give your support to EFP. I too wish I can return here one day.

Great experience
selwolfz1 [TA], , Aloha, Oregon

I stayed at the elephant freedom project for 2 weeks and had one of the best experiences in my life. The elephant freedom project is very unique in many ways. When I first arrived I felt very welcomed by the host family. They are amazing people who are kind and loving, really made the experience so much better. This project is one the the few places you can volunteer with "happy elephants" and really get to spend time with them. We took them on walks everyday, washed them, fed them, and made enrichment activities for them. Being able to spend my days with 2 beautiful elephants was such an amazing experience.

Unique, welcoming place - a must for elephant lovers!
Finn_Muru [TA], , Helsinki, Finland

My friend and I stayed at EFP for a week mid-March. After having done extensive research on which elephant sanctuary/project to visit in Sri Lanka, we decided on Elephant Freedom Project, and it did not disappoint! Having visited BLES in Thailand, I had high criteria for how the elephants would be treated.

As far as we know, EFP is the only project in Sri Lanka where captive elephants are not used for giving rides to tourists, and spend most of their day (apart from the washing time) free to interact with just each other, not humans. It is not yet a true sanctuary (where elephants would be free to roam the land 24/7) but the project certainly aims to become one someday.
The project is run jointly by two Dutch brothers and a local Sri Lankan family of three. They essentially welcome you to their home, sharing meals, common rooms etc. You are provided your own comfortable room (2-4 people sharing + western-style bathroom). We loved the home-stay type accommodation: everyone is so welcoming and they couldn’t do enough for you. The best part, besides the elephants, was being part of the family and getting to know so much about Sri Lankan life, the local area, customs, culture, cuisine etc.

During the day, there is a project co-ordinator (knowlegable and warm Amarasiri) to guide the guest through the day’s activities. You will get to go on long walks with the elephants, give a hand in washing them if you want (personally I just liked to observe them), and prepare enrichment games for the elephants. You are not required to do manual labor but of course they welcome any help should you feel like getting your hands dirty! For example, we would help out in cleaning the elephant pens most mornings. We also visited couple of local schools for “English classes” – having no experience in actual teaching we just played games, and chatted with the kids. It was a lovely additional activity.

Whilst I have no personal experience on other elephant places in the area, a word of warning is in place: we met British people who were very unhappy with the projects they were “volunteering” at: the places were essentially riding businesses where elephants were treated badly, and their time with elephants was non-existent, despite the hefty fees they had paid upfront.

I would recommend Elephant Freedom Project to anyone who wants to spend time observing happy, relaxed domestic elephants, it is truly a magical experience. Additionally you will get a window into the modern Sinhala culture. You will come home or continue your travels relaxed and with a smile on your face. I hope to visit EFP again!

Amazing place, amazing time!
Ryan M [TA], , Welshpool, United Kingdom

I spent two weeks at this one of a kind project, from the time I arrived I felt most welcome by the family of whom I stayed with.
The time I spent with the elephants was sublime, from cleaning out the enclosure, to walking next to them, hand feeding and bathing them, it was a genuinely mind blowing experience and I would thoroughly encourage anyone to visit or even just donate to this awesome project

Will definitely visit again in the future!

Come here instead
Thatwild1 [TA], , Mumbai (Bombay), India

My boyfriend and I were evaluating which elephant orphanage to visit. Even though this one has only two (adorable) elephants we decided to come here cause of its reviews. Tim started this venture because he found that elephants were treated badly and trained to be tourist attractions in the other places. Here elephants are left to be elephants like they should be. Support Tim and his project, support the elephants welfare. Put your money into good use, spend it here instead.

Heart warming experience.
Coupe12 [TA], , Coventry, United Kingdom

I had a fantastic time working on the project. The family we stayed with were so welcoming and I was so sad to leave. We were very looked after. The experience opened my eyes to a new culture and has changed my view on a lot of things since my return. I would recommend this project to anyone. It feels amazing to have made a contribution that meant something and the people there work very hard on keeping the project going. I got to visit the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka and make memories of a lifetime. It's so hard to explain the experience as it touched my heart and will stay with me forever. You will get a great variety of things to do whilst there from working closely with the elephants to learning to cook Sri Lankan cuisine.

Fantastic experience with happy elephants!
Haziesky [TA], , Singapore, Singapore

Big thank you to everyone at EFP for a brilliant day from start to finish. The volunteers were are friendly, informative and genuinely cared for the elephants well being. Really special to see the life in the eyes of the elephants who were free of chains and able to roam around and have fun. Learnt a lot and really enjoyed being able to interact with Sujee and Washtu! Wish everyone at EFP success in your endeavours to raise awareness and improve conditions for elephants. Jamie & Hazel

Amazing experience
Nathan S [TA], , New York City, New York

The Elephant Freedom Project was an experience I will never forget. To get the chance to live, work and play with such beautiful animals was amazing. Learning about asian elephants and what the EFP is doing to protect these animals is so rewarding. Taking them for walks, feeding them first thing in the morning, taking them to the river for a swim, play and to clean them is so much fun. The whole experience in Sri Lanka was amazing. Having the delicious local cuisine prepared for you by a local cook was great and the family we stayed with were so hospitable, beautiful and welcoming. Other rewarding factors about the whole trip was visiting the local kids, playing cricket and games with them and also visiting a local disabled home was very humbling. Such beautiful people. We also got to visit local temples, and spectacular Sri Lankan sites and country side. An amazing experience working with the elephants, living with the locals and eating the amazing fruits on offer and cuisine. I recommend it to anyone as I would love to live in Sri Lanka for six months and immerse myself in the culture and the EFP to raise awareness for these amazing animals and this great cause.

EXCELLENT experience
kyle s [TA], , Sydney, Australia

My time spent with the elephants and team at EFP (Elephant Freedom Project) was by far the best volunteering holiday that i have undertaken.
I was surprised at how much time you actually get to spend with the elephants, working very closely with the elephants and learning as much as i can about Asian Elephants from the EFP team.
From the starting time of 9am to finishing time of 4pm your day is spent with the elephants and learning as much as possible, not only about the elephants but also about Sri Lankan culture.
The day is very well organised giving you enough time with the Elephants and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of Sri Lanka.

EFP offers so many great experiences other then working with the elephants. I went on weekend trips to other cities, visited the beautiful tourist spots Sri Lanka has to offer, spice gardens, massages, swimming, playing games with village kids, visits to the disabled home, cooking lessons and other great experiences.

Dont be fooled by other companies offering volunteer packages, where they say you will spend your time with elephants because its a LIE. Watching tourists ride elephants isnt spending time with elephants (it has happened to me).

If you want the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment you will achieve those feelings at EFP. It gave me the feeling like i was really helping and giving something back to the elephants and local community.
The EFP team are fabulous!! great people to work with and spend my 6 weeks with.

Come here for the elephants, help a little bit, and know that it's in progress to becoming something great.
Iamelaine... [TA], , Hoi An, Vietnam

Well worth the money you pay. This project is in its infancy and needs all the energy and help you can give. Not that there's specific tasks to do as of yet for volunteers... But that's more a custom of Sri Lanka and the fact that there's still big heavy work to be done by professionals. In the meantime, your time will mostly be spent assisting with the elephants (two so far) and keeping them active and happy until the day they can be fully released from chains. That was the biggest reason I went there, so for me, that was great.
The family and all the staff are great, warm and welcoming. Fantastic food, and activities to help educate about Sri Lanka. Weekends free to do your own thing and travel if you want to. The lodging is basic, but has everything you need, and be warned, only cold showers, and bring toilet paper with you!

I would go back if I had the opportunity as this project is very important to the thinking around elephant freedom and they (Tim) are working their butt's off to provide for the two lovely elephants they've got now. This place is focused on one goal, and that's elephant welfare, support it and have an amazing trip at the same time.

very enriching experience
Mary T [TA], , London, United Kingdom

I’ve just returned from a two week trip volunteering with the Elephant Freedom Project and I’ve had a really brilliant time. The most rewarding part for me was learning about the Asian elephants, the particular situation with elephants in Sri Lanka, spending time with the elephants up close. I think this project is doing something really great because there is no elephant riding (like in other nearby places)– something a lot of tourists don’t realize is detrimental to the health of elephants.

I enjoyed going on the elephant walks and watching them play happily in the river or in their enclosure where we set up enrichment games for them. Apart from elephant education there is so much else to do at this project – learning to cook Sri Lankan style, learn some Singhala, visit local Buddhist temples, have a yoga lesson with a master yoga teacher and visit the local school and a disabled home – all making for a very enriching experience and a true immersion in the Sri Lankan culture.

The food provided is very tasty and if you get tired of all the curry the local fruits are delicious – mango, pineapple, bananas, melon etc.
You’ll get to meet great people here not only with the organisers and host family but with the other volunteers who arrive from all parts of the globe. I recommend it!

Life Enriching
Nicole D [TA], , New York City, New York

Volunteering at Elephant Freedom Project, hands down, was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only do you have daily proximity and play time with the two beautiful elephants they have on premise but you also get a schedule packed with cultural exploration of the amazing country that is Sri Lanka. Visiting with local children and the town’s disabled home were true highlights of the week and I can’t even praise enough the warmth and generosity of the host family and staff. The only regret is that I didn’t stay for another week!

Amazing
zsyaaa [TA], , Shanghai, China

Walking and playing with big friends, visit to ancient temples & significant mountains, plus friendly people and tasty food. Just awesome!

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