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One Week in an Elephant Sanctuary

January 2019

Help improve the plight of the Asian elephant! This project offers the opportunity for conservation work with an endangered species at a sanctuary and nature park for rescued elephants. The park is home to disabled, blind, and orphaned elephants that often have a history of abuse as working performing or street animals. You will be actively improving their lives and the conditions in which they live. The park also gives sanctuary to dogs, cats, birds, buffalo, and many other rescued animals.

Volunteering at the park will be a life-enhancing experience. You will have the opportunity to engage directly with the animals, help with conservation efforts in Northern Thailand, and leave with a sense of accomplishment knowing you have done something great for the animals and their environment.

Your volunteer experience will cover six nights at the sanctuary. Volunteers will feed and bathe elephants on a regular basis, while learning more about the care they need. When you're not working with elephants, there will be time to enjoy cultural lessons and walks. 

Getting There

You will arrive in Chiang Mai, where you will be picked up from the airport and transported to your accommodations. The next day you will have free to sight-see or take a tour. The following morning you will be picked up and taken to the sanctuary, where you will have lunch and take a tour; the volunteer work will begin the following morning.

At the end of the project you will be dropped off at your hotel, where you can choose to stay in Chiang Mai for tours, travel to Phuket with the optional Phuket beach package, or be dropped off at the airport the following day for your flight home.

What will I be doing?

Breakfast is at 7:00 am, lunch at 11:30 am, and dinner is at 6:00 pm daily. Each day consists of preparing the elephants’ food, feeding them and spending time with them as they bathe together in the river, witnessing how they behave in their natural habitat. During your stay you will see for yourself the challenges facing elephant conservation in Thailand and the part that this project plays in the preservation of their herd.

Other duties will include preparing the elephants’ bathing site, cutting food from the plantation and helping with maintenance tasks around the park. This will be a great way to understand and participate in all parts of the conservation mission while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

Elephant volunteer activities include some or all of the following:

- Area introduction and meeting with the staff
- Experiencing the dynamics of elephant families and social interactions
- Learning about the problems facing elephants in Thailand today, and how this project is helping to address those problems
- Feeding, bathing, and cleaning up after elephants
- Preparing elephant food
- Constructing & maintaining mud pits, helping out local villages
- Caring for other animals in the sanctuary
- Meeting volunteers, visitors and park staff from around the world

In some cases, volunteers may be asked to look after our recent rescues and may be sent to different areas of the sanctuary.

Accommodation and Food

You will be living on-site in comfortable accommodation shared with (at least two) other volunteers. Here you will fall asleep to the sounds of elephants calling. The food is excellent, with a large buffet-style lunch and dinner with many different dishes to choose from. Vegan and vegetarian food is always available and all dietary restrictions are catered to.

What is provided in this package?

- Round-trip flights to Chiang Mai
- Accommodation in Chiang Mai before and after the project, and accommodation at the project for 6 nights.
- Three delicious meals per day (meals outside of the project will not be included, but food is extremely cheap in Thailand)
- Volunteer fees (these help the project keep going and often help locals learn about and practice conservation methods)
- Free Wi-Fi (available at the project and at our lodging)

What do I need to Bring?

- A passport valid for the duration of your stay
- Insurance covering the duration of your stay
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Hat and sunscreen
- Warm clothes
- Close-toed walking shoes and sandals/flip-flops
- Swimwear and towel
- Gardening gloves
- Flashlight and/or headlamp

It should be warm in November, but you never know when you will feel a chill. Bring a light long-sleeve shirt and a pair of light pants that you can work in. Otherwise, plan on packing shorts and t-shirts and other warm-weather clothing. Bring a light raincoat or rain poncho in case of sudden rain.

Thailand requires cash on hand of at least $300 (US) upon entry, although this is not always enforced. A visa is not normally necessary if you are a US or European citizen and your stay in Thailand is less than 30 days. No compulsory inoculations are required, although it is recommended that you check with your doctor to make sure your standard vaccinations (polio, typhoid and hepatitis A/B) are up to date.

What else do I need to know?

At the project you will be perfectly safe, but while in the city, keep in mind that traveling with cameras and other expensive-looking gear can sometimes make you a target for theft. Don’t wear jewelry or other easily pick-pocketed items. Keep money and possessions close to you at all times.

On my first volunteer trip, I made the mistake of packing too heavily. I was stuck in a steaming-hot tropical city with 3 suitcases to lug around everywhere. Please pack as lightly as you can. Though we have taxis and vans for transport, you will need to carry your stuff a few times. Make it easy on yourself!

There will be many highlights on this adventure. Working with one of the smartest and largest endangered species on the planet, caring for the well-being of a magnificent animal and contributing to the plight of elephants in Thailand, watching their natural behavior on a daily basis, and helping future generations enjoy the same privilege is a unique opportunity. The project hosts its own bar on-site, and you will have the chance to socialize with locals and other volunteers from around the world while working in a relaxed and beautiful setting - all while playing an active part in making a real difference. It's great!

Price: Starts at $2900 (Including Airfare)

Prices are based on flights from Western USA and are subject to change based on location, airfare and exchange rates.

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