Elephant Conservation Center Volunteering
Feel like a part of the Elephant Conservation team in this really unique gateway!
An in-depth insight into what it takes to look after elephants.
During the week, you will share in the life of our staff and learn more about the Lao culture. You may even pick up a bit of Lao language!
You will start by following our 3 day ‘Exploration’ program. Then you will be asked to assist us in the Centre’s development by participating in current projects on site.
Starting every Monday, we offer you the opportunity to share in the life of our staff and learn more about our projects. To start your immersion, you will follow our 3 days ‘Exploration’ programme. Then you will play a crucial role in the Center’s development by helping out in our daily work.
What Will You Do
Day 1: Exploration day
When you arrive at Nam Tien Lake, we will transfer you to the Center by boat.
You will have time to settle into our traditional dormitory before your guide takes you to the forest.
After enjoying a Laotian style picnic on a lakeside platform, you observe the elephants bathing at the nursery, an area in the forest reserved for our youngest elephants and their mothers.
When the elephants have drunk enough and returned to the forest, you will take the boat back to the Center for the hospital visit.
Our Laotian vet assistant or our biologist will introduce you to their world and tell you more about common and uncommon injuries and their respective treatments.
You will then observe one of the elephants’ daily baths and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters.
The bath is a time to socialize and strengthen ties in the herd through playing together.
Elephants & Mahouts
After the elephants have washed themselves, you will have the opportunity to see them up close.
Their ears flapping, tails swatting while they use the trunk and the trees for a good scratching.
Meanwhile, the guide will tell you a little about the background of each elephant. They have all been worked hard before they came here.
Back to the forest
Now it’s time for them to walk back to the forest.
After a short trek the mahouts will decide on a place where the elephants can graze for the night.
Day 2: A day in an elephant´s life
On the second day, you will pick up the elephants in the forest.
Enjoy strolling together with these magnificent animals through their natural habitat.
After spending the night in the jungle, it is time for the morning bath.
The Socialization Area is an area where the elephants can freely interact during a big part of the day, recreating a semi-natural living environment.
Here the elephants can enjoy being elephants.
Follow the guide to the different platforms to see how a new herd is being formed, something which is very special about our program and difficult to find anywhere else.
Lunch is served at the Center. You have some time to relax before the elephants come down for their afternoon bath.
You will meet our Laotian vet assistant or the biologist again as they will conduct a Target Training Session. All our elephants are being trained using ‘positive reinforcement’ techniques to facilitate any necessary treatments and to reduce the stress that these treatments or routine checks can give to them.
We offer you the chance to follow their work from a safe distance.
Day 3: An enrichment meeting with elephants
To give the elephants mental stimulation and work closely on specific relationships we provide cognitive enrichment in the form of hidden food, toys, a mud bath etc.
On the third day, our guide and biologist will explain the Enrichment Activities. It is a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments to their specific needs.
We invite you to take part in this amazing experience by helping our team to prepare this area by cutting and hiding the food. Make sure you to give the elephants a challenge.
Once they arrive, you will observe how the elephants try to find what you have hidden! This is a novel and unique way to interact with our elephants, contributing directly to their well-being.
After lunch, you will start to become a volunteer!
Day 4 - 6: Volunteering
You will spend your remaining days supporting the work of the ECC on current projects. These volunteer projects will not be directly with the elephants but help them a lot indirectly.
Please keep in mind that you are working in a developing country with minimal access to western tools. Activities can be influenced by the weather, i.e. rain or heat. We are looking for flexible, motivated, and autonomous volunteers.
Your activities may include, but are not limited to:
• Development and maintenance of the socialization area (cleaning, cutting grasses around the electric fence, protecting the trees etc);
• Observing and recording of elephant behaviour;
• Enrichment activities;
• Tree Nursery and Reforestation;
• Maintenance work (painting, construction, cleaning, gardening);
• Produce elephant dung paper (Dry Season only);
• Create handicrafts with the paper to sell in our shop;
Of course, we are always open to project ideas you might have yourselves.
Day 7: A goodbye to the elephants - Back to Luang Prabang
On your final morning you will complete your last volunteering session with us.
After lunch, the boat will return you to the Nam Tien Lake pier, where our minivan will be waiting to take you back to Luang Prabang or to drop you off at the Sayaboury bus station for your next destination.
Where will you sleep
You will be spending your night in a traditional mahout house turned into a dormitory. You can take hot showers in our communal washing facilities. We will provide biodegradable soap and shampoo.
Feel free to take one of the canoes out on the lake to enjoy the best view of the sunset! In our restaurant, we will serve a set menu Laotian style dishes, but without the spiciness.
What to expect:
During your visit at the center you will spend a lot of time walking through our protected area. The area is forested and might not always be accessible without you getting dirty. Activities in the forest vary during the rainy season between May and September.
|Departure||The meeting point is at the post office on Chao Fa Ngum road before 8:00 AM. It is close to the crossroads with the tourist office. Our minivan will be waiting for you in front of it and will take you to Xayaboury.|
|Return||When you finish your program, we will bring you back to the same place at about 5:00 PM. The journey between the two towns takes about 2,5 hours.|
|What to bring||Hat, sunscreen, comfortable clothes, refillable water bottle|
|What is included||Transfer from and back to Luang Prabang / English speaking team on site / Set menu meals: Day 1 (L, D), Day 2 to 6 (B, L, D), Day 7 (L,D) / Unlimited drinking water refills / Accommodation: a wooden bungalow with communal wash facilities (hot shower) / Activities as described.|
Help us to become 100% single use plastic free company!
We try to avoid plastic as much as possible, that is why we encourage you to bring your own refillable bottle.
We have water refillable station at our office where you can fill up your bottle. If you don’t have one we sell the 0,75 L Green Discovery aluminium bottles at our sales office. At the moment we will still need to use plastic bottles in some of our tours but we hope to reduce it as much as possible. Together with The Green Discovery Sustainability Fund we are working on installing water filters in all the villages we are visiting and we hope in the future we will not need to use plastic bottles anymore.