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This project takes place at a refuge in Thailand for rescued elephants. The refuge prides itself on its ethical values; there is no riding, bathing with, performing with or abusing of the elephants in any way, shape or form. This haven is unique in that the elephants have 40 acres of bamboo groves, forest, swamp and grasslands in which they roam and live as free animals. There are currently six elephants at the refuge.

Volunteers at this project will be looking after the elephants and providing them with care. Most of the volunteer work is done at a distance to allow the elephants as natural a habitat and lifestyle as possible. Volunteers will prepare and plant food, feed the elephants, as well as take part in observation duties and work to help maintain the refuge area itself.
Location of the Project:  Chiang Rai, Thailand
Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 8 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI)
Volunteer Work:  Observation, research, meal preparation, light farming
Age:  18-60 (Age Exception: Volunteers under the age of 18 may participate if accompanied by an adult)
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 16 international volunteers
Important Note:  The project schedule is subject to change based on the project’s current needs. Assistance in veterinary check-ups is available for volunteers who are joining for two weeks or more.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms in a dorm-style accommodation
Food:  3 meals per day are provided
Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days
Orientation:  Orientation and training are provided upon arrival
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses
This project takes place in Thailand’s northernmost city of Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai was founded in 1262 and was the capital of the Mangrai Dynasty before becoming a Thai province in 933. The province has a population of around 200,000 people and borders Laos to the east and Myanmar to the west. 

The accommodations for this project are located just 15 km outside of Chiang Rai, so volunteers can easily get into the city during their free time. There is a popular night bazaar in Chiang Rai, consisting of restaurants and bars, that springs to life once evening arrives. There are several temples located around the city as well, waiting to be visited. 
As a volunteer on this project you will be volunteering at an ethical elephant refuge whose main goal is to allow rescued elephants the opportunity to live in their natural habitat and live as free animals. Work will consist of tasks that are solely for the benefit of the elephants and their home. Volunteers will be planting fruit trees, maintaining the refuge and feeding the elephants. Volunteers will only engage with the elephants in ethical ways. As a long-term volunteer (for those staying two weeks or more) you will get to assist in the weekly veterinary check-ups of the elephants. This is a great learning experience. During these checkups, you will be assisting in gathering and documenting data about the elephants general health, size, weight, condition of their feet, diet etc. As the weeks go on you will be learning more and be able to be involved more in-depth in the vet checks.

Some of your tasks may include:
  • Observing elephant behavior in their natural habitat
  • Cutting elephant grass, fruit and banana trees
  • Feeding the elephants
  • Planting elephant grass, sugar cane, pineapple, corn and banana trees
  • Assisting in weekly vet checks and habit research (for those staying for a minimum duration of 2 weeks)
  • Light construction work such as planting seedlings and maintaining pathways

A typical day: A typical day begins at 7:00 AM with breakfast served in the group dining room. After breakfast, around 8:00 AM, volunteers will either observe the elephants or engage in some volunteer work. A delicious buffet lunch is served daily and the lunch breaks are long with plenty of time to relax. Following lunch, volunteers either go out to observe the elephants or partake in more hands-on work, depending on the schedule. The evenings are free for relaxation or personal travel. Dinner is always a highlight with delicious local dishes and beer & soda for sale. 

Please note: The project schedule is subject to change based on the project’s current needs.
Internet:  Internet is available at the accommodations
Laundry:  Laundry facilities are available at the accommodations
Accommodations:  Volunteers will be staying onsite, in the middle of the sanctuary so elephants can be viewed and heard from the rooms. Volunteers will be in shared, dorm-style accommodations with shared bathrooms. Same-gender rooms can be made available upon request. There are communal areas at the accommodations with pool tables and table tennis.
Food:  Three meals per day are provided. Meals tend to be a mix between Asian and Western-style food. Breakfast can include eggs and toast, while the lunch and dinner buffets can consist of meat, fish and vegetable dishes served with rice. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets can be easily accommodated.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Basic level of English
  • Motivation to work with animals
Evenings at this project are free time for volunteers, and while there are communal areas at the accommodations with pool tables and tennis courts, there are also opportunities to explore the exciting city of Chiang Rai. Here are a few examples:

Wat Rong Khun
Also known as the White Temple, the Wat Rong Khun is an art exhibit with the design of a Buddhist Temple.

Lion Hill
Lion Hill is a Buddha cave that hikers can explore. The north end of the cave has an exit to the Mae Kok River, which is a popular place for beach-lovers during the summer.

Night Bazaar
The night bazaar market is a popular tourist destination with a wide array of choice restaurants and bars.
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