Eco Volunteering (7 Days - 6 nights)
This programme is your gateway to feeling like a part of the Elephant Conservation team! It will give you a more 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.
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.
When you arrive at the Nam Tien Lake pier, we will transfer you to the Center by boat. You will have time to settle into your private bungalow before your guide takes you to the forest. Along the way, you walk past the different enclosures where our main activities take place. After enjoying a Laotian style picnic, you can watch the resident mother and baby at the nursery. The mahout of the mother stays close by while she and her baby have a bath and play. The mother trusts the mahout around her offspring and even lets him play with her a little bit.
When the mother and baby 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. It is also the perfect time to ask any questions you have about the biology of the elephants.
You will then observe the elephants’ daily bath and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters. Elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and love water. They also use bath time to socialize and strengthen ties in the herd.
After the elephants have washed themselves, you will have the opportunity for some soft interaction with the mahouts by your side. Get a feel for the elephant’s amazing skin and prickly hair, and experience up close the dexterity of their trunk. 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 a while. The guide will tell you a little about the background of each elephant. They have all worked hard before they came here. See if you are already able to recognize the elephants while observing them.
While walking the elephants to their nightly resting ground you will witness the unique bond between the mahout and his elephant. Our experienced mahouts use vocal commands to steer the animals through the thick foliage. As you stroll together with these magnificent creatures into the dense forest of Nam Tien, take a moment! This is the REAL land of elephants! Your guide will give you some interesting information about the biodiversity of our protected forest.
Before dinner, take a moment to take in the surroundings from one of our viewpoints. You can also go for a swim in the lake, take out a canoe, or visit the museum where one of the staff will give a small presentation on our conservation efforts. During meal time, feel free to ask your unresolved questions to the staff and share one of our delicious Lao style cocktails!
On the second day, you will meet up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night grazing in the jungle, it is time for another bath. Enjoy strolling together with these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.
When they have had their fill of water they are brought to the Socialization Area. This 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 around the perimeter to learn more about the group and its dynamics. Take your time on the different platforms to see how a new herd is being formed. This rare opportunity will bring you closer to their natural life, 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.
On the third day, our guide and biologist will explain the enrichment activities. Enrichment is a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animal’s behavioral biology. We are providing cognitive enrichment in the form of hidden food, toys, a mud bath etc. to give the elephants mental stimulation and avoid boredom. They love it! We invite you to take part in this amazing experience by helping our team to prepare the enclosure by cutting and hiding the food. to give the elephants a challenge. Once they arrive, you will have the opportunity to 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 on the third day, you will start to become a volunteer!
You will spend your remaining days supporting the work of the ECC on current projects. These volunteer projects will not be directly with elephants, but help them a lot indirectly in keeping the Center running.
- Development and maintenance of the socialization area (cleaning, cut 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 handicraft with the paper to sell in our shop;
Of course, we are always open to project ideas you might have yourselves.
On your final morning you will complete your final volunteering session and then, 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.
Searching Availability... In US Dollar per person: 465$
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In US Dollar per person: 465$