Trip Details

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:

  • Assisting with the bathing of the elephants;
  • Trekking with the elephants;
  • Helping vets and Mahouts to prepare food for the elephants;
  • Participating in the production of elephant dung paper;
  • Using the elephant dung paper to create crafts;
  • Assisting with cleaning the breeding area;
  • Educating the staff in the English language;
  • Participating in lessons in Laos cuisine, and assist in the kitchen;
  • Carrying out maintenance work at the sites, including painting, construction, cleaning and installing electrical and water systems;
  • Gardening work, including caring for new trees at the tree nursery, tending to the organic vegetable garden and the botanical forest trek;
  • Photography and art work;
  • Any other activities as the need arises at the centre to maintain the quality of care for the elephants;

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.

Trip Itinerary

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!

Sunday

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.

Monday

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!

Tuesday

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.

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

 

Trip Accommodation

Trip Country Info

Laos

Capital: Vientiane
Language: Lao
Currency: Kip (LAK)
Time zone: ICT +7:00

Once known as the ‘land of a million elephants’, Laos is the only landlocked country in Asia, bordered by Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It became a French protectorate in 1893 and finally became an independent country in 1953 with a constitutional monarchy. This monarchy however was shortly ended by a long civil war. Today Laos is a single-party socialist republic whilst remaining strongly influenced by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army. The Laotian people make up roughly 60% of the population whilst indigenous groups and hill tribes account for 40% of the Laotian population.

It is a country that has a lot to offer whether it’s the underground river caves, the white-water rapids and jungle zip lines for thrill seekers, the beautiful forests for trekkers and nature lovers or the wonderful cuisine for the foodies!

Gap year travel in Laos is enjoyed in a country of stunning natural beauty and strong spiritual traditions which remain relatively unexplored. With a population of over 6 million people, it is one of the least populated countries in the world. Much of the country is dominated by forested mountains, lush green valleys and broad snaking rivers, including the famous Mekong, the 12th longest in the world.  This natural beauty is why many people choose volunteer and travel to Laos.

The Lao wilderness is drawing travellers looking for nature, adventure or both. Kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing and biking are all available, but it’s trekking that is most popular because it combines spectacular natural attractions with the chance to experience the ‘real Laos’ with a village homestay.  We have a choice of opportunities for your gap year travel in Laos such as medical work, conservation work, voluntary projects and much more.  If you are thinking about a volunteer experience in Laos have a look at our latest programs below or contact us for more information about exciting experiences in this fantastic country.

Participant Criteria & Requirements

Standard Requirements

No requirements have been provided.

Additional Requirements

No requirements have been provided.

What's included

  • 24/7 support in case of emergencies
  • Accommodation
  • Airport Pick up
  • English speaking coordinator
  • Meals
  • Orientation

What's not included

  • Airport drop off
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccination
  • Visa