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THAILAND

CARE FOR RESCUED ELEPHANTS IN KANCHANABURI IN THAILAND

Grab this opportunity to work with rescued elephants in the stunning location of Kanchanaburi. The elephants are mainly injured, sick and elderly elephants which have been relocated to the Sanctuary where they are cared for and given a better quality of life. You’ll work hands-on with them, including swimming and taking mud baths with them, mucking out their enclosures and, most satisfying of all, ensuring they live in a happy, comfortable environment!

If you would like to do this project for one week, you'll start your programme immediately at the Elephant Centre, working with these magnificent animals. If, however, you're lucky enough to be there for 2 weeks or longer, you'll start with a Cultural Activities Week that will immerse you into the fascinating culture of Thailand. This week includes a number of exciting activities, such as Thai language and cooking lessons, visits to temples, and generally exploring and experiencing the region. This week will help to make you feel completely at home during the rest of your stay. Your Elephant Programme will start in Week Two.

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price: Elephant Project without Cultural Activities as Week 1:
£995 (approx. US$1,280) for 1 week. This is a one-week only programme and can't be extended.
OR
Elephant Project WITH Cultural Activities as Week 1:
£1,295 (approx. US$1,665) for TWO weeks. This is a two-week only programme and can't be extended.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
Duration: Fixed-length programme of 1 week if you're doing the elephant project only and it can't be extended, and a fixed length programme of 2 weeks if you're combining it with the 1 week cultural activities first, and can't be extended. Subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates and Availability: Projects start every weekend and end on a Saturday, all year round - you choose your start and finish dates. Arrival should be before 4.00 in the afternoon.
Requirements: Minimum age 17, if travelling alone, but 13 upwards if accompanied by a parent or guardian. No qualifications or experience required, but you must have lots of enthusiasm and initiative, and a great love of elephants and their well-being.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation
Food
Meeting you at Bangkok Airport
Transfer to the Project location
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Food whilst in Bangkok, return transfer to the departure airport.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
Suitable if you want to learn about nurturing, rescue and rehabilitation of elephants, plus animal care with elephants, voluntary work with elephants, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or a short break activity.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping injured, orphaned and displaced animals to give them a much better quality of life, and knowing that you made a difference to them
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
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Two elephants wallowing in the river in the Elephant Care project in Thailand
These two elephants were thoroughly enjoying themselves wallowing in the river!
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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

If you're doing this project for one week only, you'll start your programme immediately at the Elephant Centre. If you're there for 2 weeks, you'll start with a Cultural Activities Week and your Elephant Programme will start in Week Two.

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES WEEK:
Monday: Discover the village of Tha Kham and Wat Phikun Thong. In the afternoon you will visit Singburi Town to buy anything you require, and then off to a local handicraft shop. In the evening there's a welcome party where the local school children will perform a traditional Thai dance for you, but be warned, they will expect you to join in with the dancing!

Tuesday: A day in the Historic City of Ayutthaya (Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya), with its many ancient ruins and works of art, then onto a special visit of the "Elephant village" followed by a wonderful riverside dinner.

Wednesday: Your day begins with Thai lessons and follows on to a cooking lesson where you'll learn to make your own lunch and understand why Thai cooking is famous. In the afternoon a trip to town, where you can relax in the swimming pool, check your emails at an internet cafe or explore the market stalls.
Tonight you experience a Thai Style BBQ restaurant, a unique experience.

Thursday: Visit one of the local schools where you will meet the children and even try your hand at teaching or playing a few games. *During school holidays (from mid-March till mid-May and the month of October), when the schools are closed we may visit an English camp or the Queens Project located in the many nearby rice fields.
You’ll then journey to some of the beautiful monuments and famous Buddhist temples like Wat Phra Non Jaksi Woravihan (A huge reclining Buddha image) and the Khai Bang Rachan a hero monument.

Friday: Today is an exciting and action packed day of visiting several sightseeing locations within the Saraburi and Lopburi provinces. Some of the highlights are: The famous Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Phra Ram (Monkey temple) and Wat Phra Phutthabat Temple (Buddha's footprint).

Weekends: are always free after the Siam Culture program to use as a time of relaxation or to expand your sightseeing within the central province or even a trip to Bangkok city.

THE ELEPHANT PROJECT - WORK CONTENT:

After the culture immersion week you will have a weekend to relax in Singburi or sightseeing, you will then be transferred to Kanchanaburi early on Monday morning. The project is located on a beautiful lake and offers the unforgettable experience of being able to spend time and bond with the elephants whilst they’re in their natural habitat.

The aim of the sanctuary is to relocate elephants that are injured, ill, previously abused or illegally owned to a place where they are well looked after in an replica of their natural environment. You'll learn about the elephants of Thailand and truly experience Thai culture, while working closely with the mahouts who dedicate their lives to gaining an understanding of the elephants and how best to care for them.

You will help by planting food for them, spending a lot of hands on work with the elephants like joining them for their regular mud baths – what fun! The programme also allows for some exciting local activities and a typical schedule is as follows:

Monday
Introduction, feeding the elephants and taking them to the river, bathe with them (mud bath!), prepare their food, feed the elephants and then bring them back into the forest. In the evening there is a Thai welcome ceremony, followed by dinner and a Thai culture class & Thai elephant documentary.

Tuesday
You'll go to see the elephants then its time for mucking out and general cleaning. Afterwards you will prepare food for the elephants, help with bana grass or tree cutting, plant banana grass and then spend some time relaxing floating on the river Kwai. After dinner a Thai elephant documentary will be arranged.

Wednesday
A lovely hike to the top of a nearby mountain and a visit to the elephants will start your day before breakfast! Today you will be preparing fruit and cleaning the fruit shop and mud bath. An afternoon is planned at the stunning Erawan waterfall.

Thursday
Before breakfast a bike ride around the village is arranged and then its time to plant food for the elephants. After lunch you’ll help clean the bathing area, and take a bamboo raft and nature trail to a setting in the forest where you will set up camp for a wonderful evening with your fellow volunteers.

Friday
You start the day making salt lick for the wild animals, feed the elephants at the river and wash them! After lunch you will cut sugarcane or grass cutting for the elephants. In the evening there will be a farewell party followed by karaoke!

Weekends
If you are taking part in the cultural week, then before starting your project in Kanchanaburi, you will have the weekend to relax in Singburi or you can choose to expand your sightseeing and visit the many more sites in the central provinces or go into Bangkok. Our friendly staff are always there to make your choice easier with advice.

On the Saturday after your elephant project finishes, you will have breakfast and then depart from the elephant sanctuary. You will be taken to the bus station in Kanchanaburi and from there you will make your own way back to Bangkok, or on to your next destination!

Please note that this schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

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Volunteers giving an elephant a good  scrub and rub-down on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
These Volunteers are giving an elephant a good scrub and rub-down. The elephants love it. Elephant heaven!
Elephants enjoying food collected by volunteers on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
It's uniquely satisfying to watch elephants enjoying the food that you've collected for them!
Open-top truck that transports volunteers and mahouts around the project site on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
This is the open-top truck that transports mahouts and volunteers around the project site. One of the purposes is to collect food, for example.
Giving medical attention to a wounded elephant on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
This poor elephant had been wounded and is receiving medical care to clean out and treat the wound.
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ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation during the Cultural Activities Week will be at an Eco House near Singburi. There are 3 houses in total and all are located by the riverside in the village of Tha Kham. All the rooms in these houses have 2 bunk beds and are shared on a single gender with a maximum of 4 people per room. All the rooms have a private western style toilet and cold showers (refreshing in the heat of Singburi).

The doors and windows are fitted with mosquito screens and there are 2 fans in every room. Although not directly on site, there are laundry facilities offered by locals or otherwise you can easily wash your clothes by hand. The houses have a communal area where you can eat, relax, meet fellow participants or use the free Wi-Fi.

Accommodation at the Elephant Sanctuary is provided in a spacious, idyllic, bamboo bungalow which will be shared with up to 7 other volunteers of the same sex. Showers (cold), bathroom, mosquito nets, fan and a comfortable decking are all provided.

The centre is situated 32 kilometres north of the city of Kanchanaburi. The nearest town is Lad-Ya, which is approximately 15 kilometres from the centre and here you can find internet, ATMs, a post office, supermarkets, local markets and a hospital. Closer to your accommodation there are a couple of small shops where you can buy some food and drinks and also credit for your mobile phone.

At both sets of accommodation bed linen is provided but you will need to bring towels.

FOOD:
Food is included during your stay. The meals will be of typical Thai origin, including plenty of rice dishes. Three healthy and delicious meals will be provided each day, carefully balancing Thai food for the Western tongue.

Vegetarians can also be catered for.

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Accommodation on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
The volunteer accommodation building and surrounding grounds.
Accommodation on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
One of the bedrooms inside the volunteer accommodation.
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Your Arrival: When you arrive you'll be met by the Project staff and taken to the project site. You'll have an English speaking Thai co-ordinator present with you throughout your stay. ATM and amenities can be found in close proximity to the project location.

On arrival there you'll be introduced to all the other volunteers and the local project team. Then you get to meet the elephants! Your adventure has begun :-)

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Cooking mash for the elephants on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
Volunteers around the outdoor stove cooking up mash for the elephants.
Elephant rubbing his head against a tree on the Elephant Care project in Thailand
This awesome elephant spent quite a lot of time giving himself a good rub against the tree.
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OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Diam Culture Week in Thailand

1-WEEK SIAM CULTURE IMMERSION PROGRAM:
Price: £295 for 1 week
includes food and accommodation.

“Sa-wat-dee” - Hello and welcome to Thailand. Travel with us to the Land of Smiles and become immersed in this wonderful culture and magnificent land. This amazing Siam Culture week will give you a taste of why Thai cooking is world renowned and why Thailand is so fascinating, while giving you a glance into the Thai culture and language, often described as addictive.

This is a fun introduction to life in Thailand and the perfect way to prepare for your volunteering project!

AN EXAMPLE OF A CULTURE WEEK:

Monday: Start your day with a Thai breakfast before discovering the village of Tha Kham and Wat Phikun Thong. In the afternoon you will visit Singburi Town, to buy anything you require, and then off to a local handicraft shop.

Tonight you are the special guests of a welcome party where the local school children will perform a traditional Thai dance for you, but be warned, they will expect you to join in with the dancing!

Tuesday: A day in the Historic City of Ayutthaya (Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya), with its many ancient ruins and works of art that can be seen across the city. The Ayutthaya historical park is the ruins of this former capital of the Kingdom of Siam (Movie: Anna and the King for a look into the past), which is also recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then onto a special visit of the "Elephant village" followed by a wonderful riverside dinner.

Wednesday: Your day begins with Thai lessons and follows on to a cooking lesson where you'll learn to make your own lunch and understand why Thai cooking is famous.
In the afternoon a trip to town, where you can relax in the swimming pool, check your emails at the many internet cafes or even try out your new Thai language skills with some shopping at the market stalls.
Tonight you experience a Thai Style BBQ restaurant, a unique experience.

Thursday: In the morning, you’ll visit one of the local schools, where you will meet the children and even try your hand at teaching or playing a few games.
*During school holidays (from mid-March till mid-May and the month of October), when the schools are closed we may visit an English camp or the Queens Project located in the many nearby rice fields.
You’ll then journey to some of the beautiful monuments and famous Buddhist temples like Wat Phra Non Jaksi Woravihan (A huge reclining Buddha image) and the Khai Bang Rachan a hero monument.

Friday: Today is an exciting and action packed day of visiting several sightseeing locations within the Saraburi and Lopburi provinces. Some of the highlights are: The famous Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Phra Ram (Monkey temple) and Wat Phra Phutthabat Temple (Buddha's footprint).

Weekends are always free after the Siam Culture program to use as a time of relaxation or to expand your sightseeing within the central province or even a trip to Bangkok city.

*** Note: Thailand is a tropical country with occasional violent storms, heavy rains and floods. During such times, the above schedule may be subject to change.

Laaeo Phohp gan mai - See you later!

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Elephant Conservation in North-East Thailand

1-WEEK CARE FOR ELEPHANTS TASTER:
Price: £645 for 1 week
£895 for 2 weeks
includes food and accommodation. Can be done either before or after your main project.

Work hands-on with elephants, giving them lots of care, and also be helping to improve the living conditions of captive elephants in Thailand. You'll work with around 12 elephants, but you'll be surrounded by up to 200 elephants. The experience of being in the middle of such a huge number of these majestic creatures is awesome!

You'll work closely with mahouts, helping to change the practice of using elephants for street begging and circus shows to providing an alternative for their elephants that is more natural, less stressful, and is sustainable.

During your work, elephants will be allowed to freely interact socially and you'll participate in basic elephant care.

  • You'll feed the elephants and generally have lots of hands-on work with them. Elephants love people and they love social interaction. They can be very playful.
  • You'll normally help to take the elephants out on walks with the mahouts about twice a day across the local rice fields and forests, and down to the local reservoir for clean up.
  • Another areas of assistance include helping to restore the natural habitat that has been destroyed by over-logging, planting grass and other vegetation that helps to feed the elephants, plus some community development work that helps strengthen ties within the local community.

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Cookery Class in the Culture Week in Thailand
Cookery class on the 1-week immersion program
Washing elephants on the Elephant Taster Programme in Thailand
Washing elephants on the Elephant Taster Programme in Thailand

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.

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LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

LOCATION:
This location is rural north eastern Thailand: a beautiful and peaceful setting to see the elephants enjoy their natural habitat. During this programme, due to the nature of the resort and what it has to offer, most people tend to stay and enjoy their immediate surroundings. For those who want to explore further afield, however, there are a number of waterfalls not too far away, including Poy Waterfall (9km) and Kaeng Song Waterfall (19km).

ABOUT BANGKOK:
Bangkok is not for the faint hearted! This is South East Asia’s largest, most frenetic, over polluted, traffic congested capital city. But don’t let that put you off! This will all become part of the charm.

By day and night, Bangkok is fast paced - this is a city for indulgence and fun, with action at all hours. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of this country is to live and breathe it:

  • Visit the traditional floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok, where traders sell their wares from wooden boats, weighed down by kilos of bananas and other exotic fruits as garlands of jasmine hang off the boats stern.
  • Walk through China Town early in the morning and watch stall owners carry boxes of merchandise that tower over them, weighing two or three times their body weight.
  • Snack on some fresh pineapple or watermelon carefully sliced by a roadside vendor as you soak in the sights and smells of the city before the midday heat encourages you inside to air conditioned safety.
  • Watch tuk tuk’s laden with people screech past, weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Enjoy some freshly cooked Pad Thai from a street vendor. This is a mixture of noodles and bean sprouts stir fried with an egg and served with a generous portion of chilli sauce, or for the brave, a heaping of additional dried chilli.
  • Take in sunset from a river cruise and marvel at Bangkok’s diverse skyline, from modern gleaming skyscrapers to the pointed gold roof’s of glittering temples.
  • Visit the Grand Palace, a decadent spectacle which used to be residence to the King of Thailand and now has a temple for the Emerald Buddha.

The grand palace is one of the most striking pieces of art in Thailand, with gargoyles, dragons and warriors incredibly re-constructed in glittering mosaics.

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

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Volunteers sightseeing in Thailand
Volunteers sightseeing on one of the trips arranged during the 1-Week Immersion Programme
Volunteer being nuzzled by an elephant
Volunteer being attacked by an elephant - a friendly nuzzle :-)
Volunteer group visiting Angkor Wat
A group of volunteers visiting Angkor Wat - one for your bucket list and definitely not to be missed!
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REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

SASKIA OTTE
Belgian
Care for Rescued Elephants in Kanchanaburi

What was your most memorable moment on the Project? The most memorable moment was bathing with the elephants. It is great to have such close contact with them. Being able to touch their skin which feels funny and hearing them make those loud elephant sounds was amazing. I wasn't expecting to get so attached. The staff working at the sanctuary were really friendly and caring too.

What do you think your biggest achievement was on this Programme? Travelling on my own and meeting people from around the world who share your passion.

What Positive Impact do you think you made to the Project? I think contributing to the program financially and physically made a difference. I didn't really understand why the project was so expensive, but once you see what it takes to take care of the elephants you understand. The sanctuary needs the funds to survive, so it felt good to help them and I was glad my money got well spent.

Any other comments? Everything was great ... the staff was amazing. I didn't expect to meet such nice people. I wouldn't change anything about them. And Travellers organized everything wonderfully.

VICTORIA LAMB
British
Care for Rescued Elephants in Kanchanaburi

The first week was my cultural week, which was enjoyable due to easing me into travelling alone as I met some great people ...

The next two weeks at the elephant sanctuary was amazing. I enjoyed it so much working so closely with the elephants, being able to feed them, wash them and generally hang around them.

I loved elephants before I went away, however, I love them even more now. They are so calming and amazing animals, I didn't want to leave.

The sanctuary was set up nicely, food was reasonable, buffet style, and the accommodation was good, too (no air con so did get hot).

Would definitely recommend going - I wanted to go back as soon as I left.

PHOTO GALLERY: Care for Rescued Elephants in Kanchanaburi