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Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia that acts as a genuine haven for rescued elephants! This sanctuary prides itself on its ethical values; there is no riding, bathing with, hand feeding, performing with or abusing of the elephants in any way, shape or form. The elephants are returned to the forest and able to roam free. This haven is unique in that the elephants have 1500 hectares (3,700 acres) of natural forest in which they roam around and live as free animals - one of the largest areas of forest for captive elephants in the whole of Asia. 

There are currently eight, full-time retired elephants at the sanctuary.

The project's goal is for you to come to Cambodia, have amazing time and to be highly knowledgeable elephant advocates after your visit, to help continue their work all over the world!
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Location of the Project:  Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
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Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 12 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH)
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Volunteer Work:  Observation, research, reforestation, forest conservation
Age:  18-60. Age Exceptions: Anyone under 18 years of age must also be accompanied by an adult. Anyone over 60 needs to confirm fitness, due to the remoteness and physical nature of the project.
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Number of Volunteers:  Up to 12 international volunteers (this is on the volunteer program, but there can be up to 30 people on-site, including the volunteer program, visitors and groups or research programs)

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Shared dorm rooms on-site at the sanctuary, single rooms on arrival and on weekends. Volunteers have the option to upgrade to private bungalow available at the sanctuary for an extra fee.
Food:  3 meals per workday are provided
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Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival
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Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Orientation:  Introduction and orientation on arrival to the sanctuary on the first Sunday
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Support:  Local in-country team and 24-hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), meals on the weekend (Fri night through to Sun lunch) , personal expenses
This project takes place in Cambodia’s most sparsely populated eastern province of Mondulkiri. “Mondulkiri” is Cambodian for “Meeting of the Hills” and the region is characterized by its rolling hills, lush landscape and thundering waterfalls. The province capital is Sen Monorom, the only official town of the province, while the remainder of Mondulkiri is made up of natural forest, including three large protected areas. 
As a volunteer at this project you allow the project to do what they do best: care for sick and abused elephants, protect the forests and provide vital jobs, healthcare, community assistance and vet care for the local indigenous population and elephant owners across Cambodia.
 
Volunteers at this project will be helping to monitor the health of the elephants, with observation and research, and help to develop and maintain the site as a care facility for these magnificent creatures. Most of the volunteer work is done at a distance to allow the elephants to roam free in their natural habitat and have as stress free lifestyle as possible. The chance to observe these elephants in their forest home is as close as you will ever get to see an elephant in the wild but in close proximity!
 
As a volunteer on this project you will be volunteering at an ethical elephant sanctuary 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 forest home. Volunteers will only engage with the elephants in ethical ways.
 
Some of your tasks may include:
  • Trekking out to find the elephants in the forest - 5-7 kilometers/day
  • Observing elephant behavior in their natural habitat
  • Taking part in research programs on elephants and forest
  • Reforestation work in the community forest as well as the larger protected forest
  • Planting and maintaining food farms like banana and bamboo for the elephants
  • Maintaining the sanctuary for example building bridges and trails and maintaining the facilities like the elephant hospital
  • Helping to monitor the forest and wildlife and much more
 
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 head to observe the elephants or engage in some volunteer work. Volunteers are trekking out into 1,500 hectares of beautiful forest to find the elephants, therefore there is a lot of hiking (5 - 7 km per day) on difficult terrain and volunteers need to be prepared accordingly.
 
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. Dinner is always a highlight with delicious local dishes and beer / soda for sale.
 
Please note: The project tasks schedule is subject to change based on the project’s current needs.
 
Weekly Schedule: Volunteers will be picked up from Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) on Saturday and stay the night in Phnom Penh. Volunteers will be provided dinner that night as well as breakfast Sunday morning and a packed lunch for the transfer to Sen Monorom Mondulkiri, in the east of Cambodia. The transfer will leave Phnom Penh at 7.30 and take five to six hours to get to Mondulkiri.
 
The program will begin officially at 3:00 PM on Sunday, when volunteers meet the project staff in Mondulkiri at their center and journey out to the project site. Volunteers will spend all week on-site and return to town on Friday at 5:00 PM. Friday night dinner will be at volunteers’ own expense. Volunteers will stay Friday night in Sen Monorom town, Mondulkiri, and be transported back to the city of Phnom Penh at 7:00 AM on Saturday, where volunteers will need to arrange their own transport to the airport for departure, stay in Phnom Penh or onward travel.
 
For volunteers staying longer than one week, you will not return to Phnom Penh on Saturday, but will be staying in Mondulkiri and returning to the project site again on Sunday at 3:00 PM. Weekends are then free to explore the beautiful Mondulkiri province, or relax and chill in town.
Internet
Internet:  There are Wifi cafes in town, but please note there is no Internet or cell phone reception at the project or accommodations - volunteers should be sure to advise family and friends you will be out of contact during your stay at the sanctuary.
Laundry
Laundry:  Laundry service is included onsite at the sanctuary
Accommodations
Accommodations:  Accommodation in Phnom Penh and in town on the weekends: Volunteers will be placed in single hotel rooms in Phnom Penh on the Saturday of their arrival, and be transferred to the project Sunday. Friday night volunteers will be placed in single rooms in another hostel in Sen Monorom. Accommodation at the sanctuary: From Sunday until Friday afternoon, volunteers will be staying in a mixed-gender, shared dorm on the sanctuary site, overlooking the beautiful forest. Accommodations have been built mostly with recycled materials. Volunteers have the option to upgrade to private bungalows with en suite bathrooms for additional fees - please note there are only 4 private bungalows on-site.
Food:  All meals from dinner on the first Saturday in Phnom Penh until the following Friday lunch onsite the sanctuary are provided. Friday night dinner is not included allowing the volunteers to choose where you have dinner in town on your return. For volunteers staying longer than one week, all meals over the free time on the weekend at the volunteers’ own cost. Meals often include meat and vegetable dishes, but may vary from season to season. Vegetarian, vegan and special diets can be accommodated onsite at the sanctuary.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Basic level of English
  • ​Moderate to high level of physical fitness
Mondulkiri is an ideal location for volunteers who enjoy sightseeing and embracing nature. The rolling hills of the province provide a delightful, scenic view that is complemented by the many waterfalls of the province. If volunteers stay for 2 weeks or more, you have free time on the weekend to explore some of this beautiful province. A few suggested travel highlights for the Mondulkiri area are as follows:
 
Bou Sra Waterfall
The Bou Sra Waterfall is made up of three magnificent falls that create a pool and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The site is also home to one of the highest ziplines in Cambodia. Take a swim in the falls pool and then zipline through the Cambodian jungle for an enthrilling experience!
 
Phnom Doh Krokom Pagoda & the Sea Forest
There are a number of look out points around the town, for an amazing view of the sunset over Sen Monorom and the “sea forest,” take a trip to the Phnom Doh Krokom Pagoda. This is a popular destination for sightseeing as it overlooks the region’s rolling hills.

Responsible Tourism Day Projects:

Jahoo Gibbon Camp
The community-based ecotourism initiative is a joint venture between the indigenous Bunong village of Andong Kralong and the Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (SVC), where visitors have the chance to see yellow-cheeked crested gibbons and black-shanked douc langurs, as well as rare bird species.

WEHH - In the intimacy of the Bunong culture
Give sense to your holidays by immersing in the culture of Bunong Indigenous People and help our local communities to improve livelihoods.

Dei Ey & Pu Chrey “A Forest Experience” 
Come and experience the life of the Bunong people in Mondulkiri’s protected forests. Dei Ey runs a community-operated lodge on the edge of the community forest and a unique bird watching platform inside the protected area. 
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