ELEPHANT VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE
Spend two or four weeks on our most popular project helping Thailand's majestic elephants!
Starting with a weekend in the country's buzzing capital, Bangkok, we'll then take you to the north-eastern province of Surin where locals and elephants have lived together for hundreds of years.
During the project you'll be getting up close and personal with the friendly giants themselves and living amongst the beautiful people that call this place home; gaining a true insight into the rural Thai culture and lifestyle. Helping out with micro development projects and agricultural projects which benefit not only the welfare of the elephants but also the local communities that protect them, you'll leave with an unforgettable experience and new-found friends for life! [Read below for more info ↓]
Locations: Bangkok, Surin
Experience Length: 2 weeks (with an optional 2 week extension)
Work Type: Mostly based on community development projects with various tasks that are aimed at increasing the well-being of the elephants and their surroundings. Also inculded are agricultural projects.
Arrival Airport: Bangkok International Airport (Code: BKK)
Finish Date: The program will end in Surin on the Friday either two or four weeks after your start date (depending on the duration you book). We can help arrange onward travel but it isn't included in the price.
Recommendations: Healthy, Minimum age 18, unless accompanied by an adult. Aged 17 is acceptable only with signed consent from a parent or guardian. Open-minded and willing to be accepting of a very different culture.
With 15 persons per group MAX! The exact cost of the 2 week experience is US $1350 but if you register in the next 7 days we can squeeze it down to US $1250 which comes in at about US $89 per day. The two week extension is US $750.
This goes towards covering everything from in-country transport and accommodation to project fees and staff support. Please note that your international flights are not included in the above price.
To secure your spot you pay a deposit of US $250 (you can then pay the rest in weekly instalments or in full a couple of months before you travel). We also provide you with a comprehensive travel guide which covers everything from what to bring, to travel insurance and international flight recommendations.
Located approximately 450 kms from Bangkok is the province of Surin. Home to over 1.1 million people and over 500 elephants, Surin is often referred to as 'The Elephant Province'. Elephants here have co-existed with humans for hundreds of years. Originally used like tanks for the numerous wars with neighbouring Cambodia, then used as heavy farm machinery, particularly with logging, these elephants now find themselves redundant.
In Surin we work with three communities located approximately 1 hour north of the main provincial city. These three communities have kept and cared for elephants for generations, with them being treated very much like a domesticated pet or even as one of the family.
Elephants are extremely expensive creatures to care for. Full grown males eat upwards of 300kgs of food daily - something that a traditional farming family cannot afford to purchase on their meagre income. Because of this huge additional expense many of the elephants owners (known as Mahouts) were forced to put their elephants into tourism-related activities, into poorly maintained zoos, or to take them out to walk the street selling photo opportunities to tourists.
Bamboo have agreements with three local village communities whereby we will financially support the communities if they agree not to put their elephants into any form of tourism that would harm the elephants in any way. This agreement has worked fantastically well for many years; the elephants are living a comfortable lifestyle, receiving professional health care, regular exercise and more love than they could have expected!
As a volunteer on this project you will have daily interaction with the elephants. You'll learn the history of elephants in this region and how we are all working towards a better future for these majestic animals. You will get a real insight into life in a traditional thai village.
The elephants in these villages are domesticated elephants (not wild elephants that have been captured; our elephants and their ancestors have been living with humans for centuries and are very much part of the family) they all have varying cheeky personalities but are equally loved. Our aim is to ensure that these elephants can stay living with their owners and families. Without our financial support the majority of these mahouts would have to sell their elephants to circuses, riding camps and other exploitative activities. By signing up to this tour you are directly ensuring that these elephants can remain in a safe and loving environment. Your contribution helps to secure regular health checks, the right amount of the best food, a safe environment and supports efforts to keep them away from those who may not have their best interests at heart.
This is a fantastic project that has many goals, some of which have already been achieved and will soon be rolled out to other villages in an attempt to offer a very bright future for the elephants and also for the mahouts who have devoted their lives to the care of their elephants.
On the weekends you are free to relax or travel solo, why not visit the magical Siem Reap, Cambodia which is just a few hour drive across the board, home of the incredible Angkor Wat. (To visit Cambodia you will need to obtain a Visa at the border which will cost $35) Our coordinators can give you other suggestions and help book things but the cost does not cover weekend activities.
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Every day on this project is unbelievable and unforgettable - guaranteed! We've packed so much into this that you'll be exhausted! Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite.
- If you arrive into Bangkok international airport between 6am and 8pm on the official arrival day, we'll arrange for you to be met and transferred to the guesthouse to start your adventure.
- Daily support from our experienced team of coordinators
- Two nights bed and breakfast in one of the most exciting areas of Bangkok.
- In-depth orientation in Bangkok
- Guided experience of the some of the most beautiful sights of Bangkok and a traditional Thai welcome meal.
- Accompanied coach or train transfer from Bangkok to Surin.
- Accommodation in our self-contained volunteer house when not in the elephant village.
- Return transport from the volunteer house to the elephant village.
- All accommodation in a traditional homestay in the elephant village.
- All meals during your time in the elephant village.
- All activities in the elephant village.
- All volunteering project materials and guidance.
- Fully supported throughout your stay
- Detailed pre-departure information to help you prepare for your time with us
BANGKOK: Guesthouse accommodation in the heart of one of Bangkok's most popular areas. Breakfast included. Free WiFi, western bathroom, hot water, A/C, TV and fridge. Twin or triple share.
SURIN CITY: Comfortable houses rented from the local community. Each house has several bedrooms sleeping up to 4 per room in single beds. Several western bathrooms in each house. Fully equipped kitchens and in close walking proximity to restaurants, shops, markets, bars and more.
ELEPHANT VILLAGE: Live in a traditional Thai homestay from Monday to Friday. All meals included. Bedrooms are basic but comfortable with Thai style mattresses on the floor sleepin up to 10 people per room. WIFI is NOT available in the village. Bathrooms are bucket flush western toilets with cold showers. There is NO hot water or air con in the village however you will be equipped with mosquito nets and a fan. There are also small shops in the village.
- Minimum age 18, unless accompanied by an adult. Aged 17 is acceptable only with signed consent from a parent or guardian.
- Enthusiasm and flexibility - schedules can change without notice due to uncontrollable factors.
- Willingness to get your hands dirty and work as a team.
- An open respect for other cultures and customs.
- Travel and medical insurance.
- All accommodation
- All in-country transport
- 24/7 support from our guides
- All tour activities
- Heaps of meals!
- Project donation and supplies
- International flights
- Spending money
- Travel visa - if required please check with the Royal Thai Consulate or Embassy closes to you. Visas cannot be obtained in Thailand.
- Meals and drinks other than those stated in the above descriptions.
- Travel and medical insurance
- Transport away from Surin at the end of your placement
- Weekend activities
Elephant Volunteer Experience (14 days)
US $1250: US $89 per day
Elephant Volunteer Experience 2 week extension
Please note that your international flights are not included in the above price.
To secure your spot, you pay a deposit of US $250 - you can then choose to pay the remainder in weekly instalments or as one lump sum a couple of months before the experience starts. Once you have made the deposit payment, you will receive a comprehensive experience guide which covers everything from what to bring, to travel insurance and international flight recommendations.
There are great online resources for finding cheap flights, such as www.skyscanner.com or www.google.com/flights. If you would like to speak to an agent you can use our preferred agent by clicking on this link STA Flights.
Please book a flight that arrives in to Bangkok's main international airport (named, Suvarnabhumi or airport code: BKK) on the chosen arrival date. If its between 6am and 8pm one of our team will be there to meet you. If you arrive after 8pm we can arrange for an airport hotel to collect you from the airport and you'll spend that night with them. The following morning we'll have a driver collect you and transfer you to the guesthouse where you'll meet up with the other volunteers.
If you arrive in Thailand before your chosen arrival date then you will need to make arrangements for your early accommodation but just get in touch with our team who can give you more details.
When you have your flight booked you must send to us the flight number (usually a code consisting of two letters and three number. For example; BA009) and the arrival time. Without this information we cannot collect you from the airport and that would just suck!
It's also a great idea if you can send us a number for a mobile or cell phone that you plan to bring with you so that we can try to contact you if for some reason we're unable to locate you at the airport.
Due to the wide of array of destinations accessible from Surin, and that not everybody wants to travel back to Bangkok, it's far easier for our team to just let you choose where you're heading once your placement has ended on the Friday, 2 or 4 weeks after you begin. Of course our team will help you to organize tickets and a schedule but you will need to pay for your onward travel yourself.
Thailand uses a monetary system called 'Baht'. At the time of writing the exchange rate is $1 = 33 Baht or £1 = 44 Baht. It's a very helpful idea to bring some with you if you can get it. If not, there are heaps of ATM's in the airport and on almost every street corner in Bangkok.
General day to day living in Thailand can be very cheap with meals costing as little as 35 Baht, a beer for 90 Baht, bottled water for 5 Baht and upwards. The further you are from Bangkok, the cheaper day to day living costs. It's highly likely that you can live on as little as $10-$15 per day but if you like to shop or party then you need to budget accordingly.
As we're not medical professionals we're not permitted to give medical advice. However, most travel clinics suggest having the following vaccinations; Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Typhoid.
There is no malaria in either Bangkok or Surin but if you're travelling before or after joining us you may want to check if any of the areas you plan to visit suffer with malaria. Please note there is rabies in Thailand.
Please do seek medical advice from your GP or local medical travel advice clinic for absolutely up to date information.
To confirm your place on the program we just require a deposit of US $250. This is by far our most popular program to ensure that you confirm your placement we suggest sending this deposit as soon as possible. Once we have received your deposit your placement will be confirmed by email. If you haven't received that email in 48 hours, please check your spam/junk folder, or contact our bookings team at [email protected]
We require your placement to be fully paid a couple of months before your confirmed arrival date. We can set you up with a weekly payment plan if you prefer. Just contact our team to make that happen.
Throughout your project you will be accompanied by an experienced team of coordinators. They are there to help you understand the Thai culture and customs, to help you with arrangements, answer any questions that you may have and to ensure that you enjoy your time to its fullest. If at any time you feel unsafe, either in general or on your placement, we expressly urge you to speak to your coordinators immediately. In almost all cases whatever the issue is can be resolved quickly and with minimum effect to your placement.
We have been operating for over 15 years, have placed over 25,000 people and have an experienced team with a wealth of knowledge and passion! But don't just take our word for it - if you visit our website verification page where you can see our accreditation and view over 1000+ reviews.