Volunteer in China and experience the rare Giant Panda
Volunteering at the Panda Reserve offers you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the Giant Panda - both the baby pandas and the grown-ups!
The project is located within the beautiful mountain region of the Wolong Nature Reserve, 150 kilometres from Chengdu City, (the capital of Sichuan Province).
This project is the largest Panda Reserve in China, and the care you provide will genuinely help the Panda Reserve to protect these animals from extinction. In the last 2 years, the volunteer work at the Panda base has meant that the panda population has doubled, which is an amazing achievement.
In January an outbreak of distemper forced the closure of the Panda volunteer programmes but the great news is that they are well but as a precaution this is currently the only project permitted to send volunteers to work with the Pandas.
As a volunteer you get to tour the Panda Reserve for free. The reserve contains panda raising, breeding, rare wild animal rescue and educational facilities.
Daily activities while on the project will include cleaning the living areas, preparing food and feeding the panda. Full training will be given.
You may also be asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, so that we may extend our knowledge and how to better care for this highly endangered species.
You'll also get lots of free time to explore the area and learn the local language.
The focus of the project is volunteering to work with Pandas at the Ya’an Panda Base. The Pandas were relocated there from Wolong Panda base, Xinjing which was devastated by an earthquake in 2008. Since the move, the panda population (in care) has more than doubled, not least thanks to the efforts of volunteers, and the Panda Base is at last in a position to think about fulfilling the ambition of releasing them back to the wild. The project is in the early stages of making this a reality.
Your work will involve being with the Panda as full time carers. You will be preparing food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, carrots – and of course their favourite – bamboo, serving them the food, cleaning their enclosures, and ensuring they are safe and secure.
Occasionally volunteers are asked to participate in research about the pandas and to help in providing medical care. You will also have time to watch and photograph the pandas.
In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the Panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population - which is an amazing achievement. The numbers are now such that the Panda Reserve can at last experiment with returning them to the wild.
The Panda reserve, which you can tour for free as a volunteer has panda raising, breeding, rare wild animal rescue and education facilities. Typical daily activities you will be involved in include cleaning the panda’s living areas, preparing food and feeding them. You may also be asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, so that we may extend our knowledge and caring activities for this highly endangered species. If you are interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity to learn about something unique to China – the Giant Panda.
After daily duties have been completed, there is a fair bit of free time. After all, pandas, being wild animals also like their own space! In brief there are several activities and facilities for leisure purposes, such as;
- Table Tennis
- Chinese Chess
- Free pass to access all areas of the Panda Reserve
- Volunteer Centre - this is a general area where most volunteers will take time to relax, chat or eat ice cream!
- Free Chinese language lessons from 4pm-6pm daily
How long can I volunteer for?
This is a one week programme. (If you're wanting longer to explore China & want time with the Pandas, we'd suggest the 28 day Road Trip China which includes 3 days at the Panda base). Otherwise if this is a big volunteer trip for you, we'd suggest doing this on your way to Africa or during your time doing any of the other Asia/Pacific volunteer adventures. We can easily arrange all your transfers.
Airport pickup from your English speaking guide and transfer to the volunteer Hostel
Visit Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Center
Chengdu city-walking tour (Tianfu Square, People’s park, Kuanzhai Alley)
Welcome Dinner at a local hotpot restaurant
Transfer to the Panda reserve
Lunch at the Panda Base Hostel
Meeting at the activity room
Brief introduction at the panda center and collect your uniform and card
Valley hiking to see the waterfall
Welcome party & Panda documentary screening
Wednesday to Friday
Cleaning, preparing food, chopping and carrying bamboo
Preparing food, chopping and carrying bamboo
Chinese lesson (optional)
Calligraphy lesson & Culture lesson & Paper craft (optional)
You will transfer to Chengdu city/airport. Late afternoon flights are recommended to be on time!
When can I start the programme?
Programmes start weekly throughout the year. However please apply at least 4 weeks in advance to guarantee your booking.
What is Included in the Price of the Program?
- Airport pick up at Chengdu on arrival on Sunday.
- Transfer to Panda Base.
- All accommodation and food (3 meals/day) whilst on the programme.
- Internet/Wi-fi access at many hostels.
- Assistance with Chinese visa renewals/extensions (any associated costs are the responsibility of the participant).
- All photographs except those listed.
- 24/7 support during your programme.
- 24/7 emergency phone line.
- Saturday 8.00 a.m. transfer from the Panda Base to Chengdu airport on completion of the programme.
- Arriving at the airport at approximately 11.00 a.m. Those with later flights may choose to take this transfer to Chengdu city - also included in the cost of the programme, but subsequent costs of getting to the airport are not included.
What is not included in the programme fee?
- International flights and Insurance (although we can help you organise these easily at no extra cost to you)
- Visa application(s), renewals/extensions & associated costs.Insurance.
- Extra activities not listed in the programme.
''This week has been amazing!! I love the pandas - they are so cute. I can't believe how fast the week has gone though, everybody's so friendly and the pandas can be so funny. It's a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget''. Fiona, Scotland.
''I had three amazing weeks at the panda base... an incredible experience. You were able to get to know the different personalities of the pandas you were working with and had access to the whole panda reserve''. Lisa, Norway.
''During the four weeks I fell in love - with a panda!'' Lena, Norway.
''I enjoyed my time at the panda base... having fun with the other volunteers. Although four weeks might seem a long time, it passes quickly. This trip was definitely worth it!'' Ashira, Belgium
''It has been a most amazing experience. Not just meeting and working with the pandas, but learning about the culture and society of China. The volunteers are friendly and fun to hang out with, so evenings are pretty great. I think it's fair to say that I've had a few culture shocks, so much here is different from my home in Sweden, but I've had a great time discovering these differences. I definitely want to come back someday!'' Lynn, Sweden
''From the pick up at the airport everything has been great and working so closely with the pandas is truly amazing'' Mikael, Sweden
“Our English speaking guide is amazing”
“They are amazing -- and the food is sooooo good honestly”
“Best experience of my life ever. I've peaked at 21. It's not gonna get any better than this" - Hannah Foreman, Auckland, NZ.
Minimum age - 12
Maximum age - 65
This program includes a lot of walking and hiking, the panda base is located in the mountains therefore is often rainy so roads are slippery. Due to the amount of physical activity on this project, for safety reasons we cannot accept volunteers above the recommended age.
Get in touch with us if you'd like to organise a school or University group trip.