Working as a volunteer, and interacting, with the majestic elephants in their natural habitat, through this 6-day project you will have the opportunity to participate in caring for rescued elephants at the country’s first elephant hospital. This is a unique opportunity to work alongside Mahouts in their various activities caring for the well-being of the elephants – something that you would not experience as a tourist.
The Elephant Conservation project rescues animals who have been injured through logging accidents, or any other activities that fall under the umbrella of “human exploitation”. Once rescued, the elephants will be cared for and will stay for the rest of their lives in a safe environment which replicates their natural habitats as much as possible.
Over the course of your time at the project, you will be immersed in the lifestyle of the Mahouts, learning about their ancient culture through the 3 day “Exploration” program. You will then proceed to assist at the centre by carrying out community work at the site.
Based at the elephant nursery, hospital, museum and other locations as necessary, your activities will include, but are not limited to:
When using local transport to travel to and from the centre, buses depart at 9am and 2pm (in both directions) between Luang Prabang and Sayaboury bus station. On your arrival at Sayaboury, you will be met and transported to the project site via tuk-tuk and boat.
Beginning with a 3 day “Exploration” program, you will learn about the lifestyle and culture of the mahouts, before you move on to carrying out voluntary work at the centre. In a unique opportunity to have an in-depth encounter with the majestic Giants of Laos, you will be embarking on a journey into the Elephant World!
Arriving at Sayaboury Bus Station, you will be met by a member of the project team who will take you on a boat trip. You will then be given lunch before having a guided tour of the centre, introducing you to the facilities and the projects taking place there. Other activities include your first encounter with the elephants and a meeting with the veterinarians and the mahouts. The mahouts will share some of their elephant interaction secrets with you before you experience an Elephant bath and follow the elephants on a trek through the forest, with a chance to ride the elephant bareback. Getting used to their swaying movements will have you holding on tight! After returning the elephants to the forest of Nam Tien, the breathtaking land of the elephants, where they graze and sleep through the night, your guide will give you an insight into the biodiversity of this protected forest area.
In the evening, you will return to the centre where you will have dinner with the staff.
After breakfast, you will return to the forest with the mahouts where you will take part in their morning ritual, getting close to the wonderful elephants as you return them from the forest. You will discover the creatures’ playful characters as you bathe them and they reveal to you their love of water and their amazing swimming ability. The bond between the mahout and his elephant will be evident as you witness their interactions today.
Following lunch, you will be taken on a short boat trip to the nursery, again located in the forest. In this replica of a natural habitat, you will see the baby elephants nurtured by their mothers as they learn to look after themselves.
You will participate in an elephant bath before setting off on a relaxing cruise into the sunset on the Nam Tien Lake. The time is yours to enjoy fresh drinks and snacks, swim in the lake or relax and absorb your new and incredible environment. Guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience with the friendly staff at the centre!
A day of immersion into the work of the veterinarians and biologists awaits you. They will guide you through their work, explaining their field and research work, not only at the centre, but across Laos and the region. Experiencing first-hand the conservation actions implemented by ElefantAsia NGO, your morning visit to the only Elephant Hospital in Laos will leave you awe struck. In the afternoon, you will participate in your first community work on the site. Your evening will end with dinner in the company of the centre staff.
Wednesday to Saturday
As the centre adapts to the natural activities of the elephants your schedule for these days is not set in stone. You will need to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the animals. However, you will have an itinerary of workshops available to you which will be explained to you fully by an English speaking guide. For all your activities with the elephants you will be accompanied by centre staff. During your free time at the centre you will have time to walk with the elephants as they return to the forest, visit the elephant museum and relax on the lake in kayaks or swim. There will be elephant movies available for you to watch or you can choose to observe the baby elephants from the viewing platform as they move around in their natural environment, grazing and socialising.
There is an option to stay longer than one week at the program. This will result in you becoming a long-term participant which could last from two weeks to several months.