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The Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Project Thailand

This wonderful elephant project is a sanctuary where old, sick, disabled, previously abused or illegally-owned elephants now call home. Here, we work for the elephants, not the other way around. This means there will be no elephant riding in the program. 

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However, you will get the chance to experience and bond with these gentle giants by swimming with them, bathing them and preparing their food, which typically comes in the form of Bana grass, sugarcane and banana plants.

 

The elephants freely roam around the sanctuary by day, and then are taken to the forest in the early evening.

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You will be spending time alongside experienced mahouts, who invest their entire lives gaining an understanding of the elephants and how best to care for them.

The project is based in Kanchanaburi, which manages to have a delicate balance between tradition and tourism. It's surrounding limestone hills create and an unimaginably beautiful landscape enhanced by its numerous bamboo-style buildings, stunning meandering rivers and unique temple caves. 

Kanchanaburi is truly one of Thailand’s natural gems and the perfect place to indulge in nature and spend time with elephants in our project.

Aims of the Sanctuary

The aim is to relocate elephants that have been injured, that are ill, that were previously abused or illegally owned into a sanctuary, where they are well looked after and taken care for, and replicating their natural environment.

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Here's an example schedule:

Monday
  • Breakfast
  • Introduction meeting to get you acquainted with the program
  • Feeding the elephants
  • Walking next to the elephants to the river
  • Sticky rice cooking lesson
  • Lunch
  • Elephant bathing (think massive mud bath)
  • Preparing food for the elephants and feeding them
  • Bring the elephants home (to the forest)
  • Welcome Thai ceremony
  • Dinner
  • Thai culture class
  • Watching a Thai elephant documentary

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Tuesday
  • Head to the forest to bring the elephants to the sanctuary grounds
  • Breakfast
  • Cleaning the sanctuary
  • Preparing food for the elephants, this will include picking up banana grass as well as planting new ones
  • Lunch
  • Boat ride over Kwai River
  • Free time to relax and enjoy your surroundings
  • Dinner
  • Watching a Thai elephant documentary
Wednesday
  • Go hiking to the top of a mountain
  • Head to the forest to bring the elephants to the sanctuary grounds
  • Breakfast
  • Prepare fruit and clean up
  • Lunch
  • Go to Erawan National Park, where we will witness breath-taking emerald green ponds and waterfalls
  • Dinner
Thursday
  • Biking in the village
  • Breakfast
  • Elephant food planting
  • Lunch
  • Cleaning bathing area
  • Bonfire
  • Nature tour around the forest
  • Setting up the campsite and collecting firewood
  • Dinner
  • Campfire party & experience exchange
Friday
  • Bird watching
  • Forestry efforts and creating mineral licks for wild animals, which are places where animals go to lick essential nutrients from salts and other minerals
  • Head back to the sanctuary
  • Breakfast
  • Feed the elephants by the river
  • Washing the elephants
  • Lunch
  • Sugarcane/grass cutting for elephants
  • Boat ride over Kwai River
  • Free time to relax and enjoy your surroundings
  • Dinner
  • Farewell party, where we will have fun with karaoke and we will receive a certificate

Saturday
  • Breakfast
  • Depart from the Elephant Sanctuary

***This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Program participant criteria

  • A caring and compassionate attitude towards animals!
  • Responsible traveler - you will not get to ride elephants - this is not that type of project
  • Additional equipment
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty

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Accommodation & Meals

  • Accommodation is provided in a spacious, idyllic bamboo bungalow which will be on a minimum of 2 person, single gender basis. Showers, bathroom, mosquito nets and a comfortable decking are all provided.

  • You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends. Meals are typically Thai and vegetarian-friendly.
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Check out the Volunteer Projects prices and dates

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I feel like I will return to my home away from home at least one more time. and who knows again… and maybe again… because I fell in love with this place, it’s people and the life it offers. If you consider volunteering for a month, I can assure you, you won’t regret it. Big hug to all of you and especially to my fellow elephant lovers can relate to (some) of this…Rosalinde Spitters

 

This place lives each breath with the intent to help out another species that should never have been subjugated in the first place. When you get to know Elephants personally as a volunteer, you’ll know what I mean. The Elephant Sanctuary is like a huge billboard to nature saying “I’m sorry, we’re sorry, and we’re trying to make it better.” It is going out of its way to correct the mistakes that history has made before its existence. Chris Hetke


 
 
 
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