As volunteers in Chiang Mai, your family will gain a true insight into local Thai life, living in an eco-accommodation and working with elephants and their owners (also known as mahouts).
In Thailand, elephants are often used as tourist attractions such as entertainment shows, where the elephants are taught tricks and stay tied up for a lot of the day. The popularity of Thailand as a tourist destination has lead to a lot more elephants being mistreated. The project aims to tackle these issues, by working towards sustainable solutions for eco-tourism and creating a better life for captive elephants or at least a life free from abuse.
The project work has three main strands:
– Supporting sick and old elephants that are not able to work as well as the unemployed Mahouts.
– Reforestation project to restore and maintain the local jungle damaged by local practices.
– Work with local schools to provide children with an opportunity to develop English and environmental skills.
Why choose this project?
The project area is rural, and its community members live mostly under the poverty line. The support of their local governor allows them to use this niche to gain work for themselves and their elephants. By involving volunteers from abroad, communities can develop an understanding of what tourists want as well as improve their English by interacting with them. Additionally, volunteers provide extra manpower for reforestation, camp maintenance and school facilities improvement.
Role of the volunteer
The presence of international volunteers is immeasurably valuable to not only improve the capacity of work on the project but for local residents and the mahouts, who can build a better understanding of what appeals to foreigners, as well as improving their language and communication skills.
You will need to bring your enthusiasm and international perspective to the activities, which will range from looking after the elephants such as walking, bathing and feeding them. Adults and children together can be involved in conservation activities, such as planting trees and maintaining the forest. Volunteers also help with daily tasks to help keep the elephants including cutting grass and cleaning the enclosures. Families are also welcome to visit the local school and join local activities in the village.
No specific skills other than a love for animals and their welfare. However, work on the project can involve some work with dangerous equipment, therefore parents must agree to certain conditions:
Parents or guardians coming must take full responsibility for their children at all times. There are machetes on site and elephants walking around, so there needs to be one adult per child to take this responsibility, or at least older brothers/sisters to help.
Volunteers must adhere closely to all rules. Not doing so may pose a risk to themselves and others
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To create a better life for captive elephants
To learn about the importance of eco-tourism
To immerse yourself in Thai lifestyle and culture
You will be based in a camp, just 20 minutes outside of Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. The area around the camp is entirely rural and provide a home for mahouts and their families. The city, however, is Thailand’s unofficial second city and is an eclectic mix of vibrant hill tribes and relaxed locals. Historically, it was constructed as a square with a moat to mark its boundaries and safeguard the people within. Today, these landmarks remain to form its unique character.
The city main economy is Agriculture. Fruit, vegetable and rice sellers stay busy around town as well as handicraft production, exporting, small-scale business and manufacturing. As the project was set up by a local entrepreneur who was very invested in Eco-Tourism, volunteers at his project stay in the same comfortable eco-tourism lodges that the tourists visiting the camp stay in. Rooms are double, twin or suitable for families of four. For bigger families, multiple rooms can be arranged.
This project is perfect for those wanting to take the time to appreciate slow-paced, rural life and explore the natural beauty of Thailand.
Details & Costs
- Duration: 1 week
16 and Above: £1163 / $2035
Children 10-15: £817 / $1430
Children 5-9: £567 / $993
Additional weeks available on request.
- Requirements: Minimum age 5 yrs.
- Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Project activities: Work with the local community to feed, exercise, and bath the elephants alongside other general maintenance tasks
- Working hours: 08:00 – 17:00 Monday – Friday
- Project availability: The project is available all year round, speak to a project advisor about availability
- Arrival day: Friday
What is included
- Accommodation: Double, Twin or Family rooms in Thai Huts
- Food: 3 meals per day – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beverages excluding soft drinks and alcohol
- Airport pickup and drop off at Chiang Mai
- Orientation in Chiang Mai with 2 nights’ accommodation, tour of the city and dinner on Saturday night
- Training: Pre-departure information pack, on-site orientation and project induction provided
- Support: 24 hour support from on-site coordinator
- 24/7 emergency number for volunteers and families
What is not included
Easy 3-step application process
APPLY ONLINE Click here to apply online and pay your deposit to secure your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW Once we’ve received your application, we’ll be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
GET PREPARED When you’ve been accepted onto your project we’ll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
HAVE A QUESTION?
We pride ourselves on providing you high quality placement information throughout your application process and whilst on the ground. Connect with us if you have any questions.
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