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“Love every moment of it”

Elephant Freedom Project
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Kegalle
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Sorry, no admission without prior booking via the website only. One day visit minimum, only online booking possible: see our website. The Elephant Project with only love and care. Interact with our saved elephants in a respectful way: wash, feed and walk with them at the unique Elephant Freedom project in Sri Lanka. Their welfare is our number 1. Why this place? We don't allow riding or any other abuse and mistreatment of our elephants. Unlike any other place, our elephants roam free inside our special enclosure. This simply is the best place for both the elephants and you. A great and affordable place for a one day visit or a much longer experience.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Love every moment of it”
Reviewed 15 July 2014

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!

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Alva C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tim_Beltman, Owner at Elephant Freedom Project, responded to this review, 17 July 2014
Hi Alva,
Time went so fast, the week was over before you knew it. You were such a fun girl and I'm happy you liked our place that much. And of course I hope to see you back here next year but only if you take a longer holiday. More than 20 hours flying just to see us is amazing and I'm happy you did but only 1 week in Sri Lanka is not much after such a long journey. Me and the family liked your company a lot though. Thanks! Tim.
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Hobart, Australia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“The complete elephant experience”
Reviewed 12 July 2014

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.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank Heidi L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tim_Beltman, Owner at Elephant Freedom Project, responded to this review, 17 July 2014
Hi Heidi,
We love to see you back here! We already miss your cakes and desserts (and we miss you too ;) ). It was great to have you with us for 4 weeks and I really loved the way you described your time here in your review. It shows exactly what you can expect when staying at our project. Hope to see you soon again! Bye, Tim.
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Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Fantastic time”
Reviewed 6 July 2014 via mobile

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!

Helpful?
1 Thank Sophie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tim_Beltman, Owner at Elephant Freedom Project, responded to this review, 17 July 2014
Hi Sophie, thank you and your friends for spending the day with us. It was no problem that you arrived so early, we love to welcome visitors to our place! I'm glad you enjoyed seeing our 2 happy elephants. Bye, Tim.
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Kuala Lumpur
Level 5 Contributor
36 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Can't Help But Smile! :)”
Reviewed 14 June 2014

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!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank smellyocheese
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JR_Beltman, Owner at Elephant Freedom Project, responded to this review, 15 June 2014
You bring tears to my eyes with your kind words and praise! Thank you sooo much for joining us for just 1/2 a day. I'm happy you found your way by bus from Kandy just fine and that you had a fantastic time at the project.

We wish you a fantastic time on the remainder of your Sri Lanka trip and are keeping a close eye on your Facebook :)
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London, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Beautiful project”
Reviewed 10 June 2014

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.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Poe1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JR_Beltman, Owner at Elephant Freedom Project, responded to this review, 15 June 2014
Thank you for your review :). Yes we are, as far as we know, the only place in Sri Lanka operating in this way. Our main objective is to give elephants the best life we can. We are still small, but are thankfully making a little difference already, especially for our two beautiful elephants Washtu and Sujee.

The team in Sri Lanka enjoyed your company very much and we loved chatting to you on Skype :)

Wishing you a great time and hope we may keep in contact.
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