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 the life of all the 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 days ‘Exploration’ program. Then you will be asked to assist us in the Center’s development by participating in projects on site that are happening at the time.
When you have arrived to the pier at Nam Tien Lake, we will transfer you to the center by boat. You might be able to catch a quick glimpse of one of our elephants while our boat docks. You will have some time to install yourself in your private bungalow before lunch is served. After enjoying a Laotian style meal, your guide will take you for a visit of the Center’s facilities and present our ongoing projects.
During the hospital visit our veterinarian and biologist will take you into their world and explain about the projects they are undertaking. Through the visit of the only Elephant Hospital in Laos, you will discover the conservation actions implemented by The Elephant Conservation Center.
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 this time to socialize.
After the elephants have washed themselves, you will meet our mahouts, who are the keepers of our elephants. Our guide will tell you a little about the background of each elephant. They have all worked hard before they came here. You will then have the opportunity to interact with the elephants with the mahouts at your side. Get a feel for the elephant’s amazing skin and prickly hair, and experience up close the dexterity of their trunk as you offer them some food. Feel free to take photos standing next to our giants!
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 some time to take in the surroundings from our viewpoint. You can also go for a swim in the lake or visit the museum. During meal time, feel free to ask your unresolved questions to the staff or share one of the 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 elephants. 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 in Laos.
Lunch is served at one of the viewing platforms. You have some time to let everything sink in. Following the forest picnic, you can see 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 him around her offspring and even lets him play with her a little bit.
Afterwards, board our boat for a trip back to the center in time to see the afternoon bath. You will meet our veterinarian or 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. We offer you the chance to follow their work from a safe distance. Afterwards you can walk the elephant back to the forest.
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 socialization area: cut and hide the food, create elephant toys etc. to give the elephants a challenge. Once they arrive, you will have the opportunity to observe how the elephants interact with what you have created! 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 one and a half days helping with projects that are happening at the time. They will not be directly with elephants, but help them a lot indirectly in keeping the center running.
• Maintenance work (painting, construction, cleaning, gardening);
• Produce elephant dung paper;
• Create handicraft with the paper;
The other day and a half you will work on projects linked more directly to the elephants.
• Development and maintenance of the socialization area (cleaning, cut grasses around the electric fence, protect the trees etc);
• Observing and recording of elephant behaviour;
• Enrichment (see enrichment page under Our Projects).
Of course we want to give a chance to any kind of project you could come up with. Photographers and artists are more than welcome to join and share their creativity.
Special note: Medical Care of the elephants at the Elephant Hospital is only carried out by qualified vets. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to participate in this activity. Thank you for your understanding.
Every day, you are free to mix your community activities with the daily elephant activities like walking the elephants back to the forest, view the socialization area, view target training, elephant bath etc. You can also choose to re-visit the elephant museum, or go for a swim.
This programme starts before lunch on day 1 and ends after lunch on day 7. We will pick you up in Luang Prabang and take you back after lunch on day 7. Accommodation is in a traditional Lao rosewood stilt house dormitory with independent rooms and shared washing facilities. Each room contains between 4 and 8 bunk beds.
In US Dollar per person
- High Season (1st Oct 2016 - 30th Apr 2017) $495
- Green Season (1st May - 30th Sep 2017) $465
- 1 - 4 years old: free of charge with no supplement single, sharing the room with parents,
- 5 - 10 years old: 50% discount with no supplement single, sharing the room with parents,
- Over 10 years: full charge.
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