Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos

“A seven day volunteering placement working in a rehabilitation centre for rescued working elephants in Laos. Stay onsite in volunteer cabins, all meals provided. ”


Luang Prabang | Elephant conservation organisation in Laos | Laos jungle location | All meals provided | Onsite jungle accommodation | Airport transfer

Description of Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos

Volunteer with an inspiring Laos elephant conservation project, aiming to return captive elephants to a life as close to the wild as possible. Once known as the "Land of a Million Elephants", Laos is now home to just 800 elephants. Of this, only half are still living in the wild. Volunteers help on this journey to freedom.

For generations, Lao elephants have been forced to work in the backbreaking logging industry, dragging several tons of timber for 8 – 10 hours each day. This work leaves the elephants exhausted and often injured, meaning that reproduction is out of the question. For every 10 elephants that die in Laos, just two are born. This means that, tragically, elephants in Laos will die out entirely unless something is done.

This project is trying to get something done. Elephants that are lucky enough to call the centre home have been rescued from the logging and tourism industries. They are encouraged to live a life as close to the wild as possible, roaming freely for many hours each day. Some of the elephants have been rehabilitated to the extent where they are keen to mate, which is tantamount to the success of the work going on here. With more successes in the future, we hope that the future of Lao elephants is more certain.

The first three days of your time here you will be getting to fully understand the workings of the centre, and the background of the elephants. After this, you will be helping wtih enrichments, monitoring, basic construction and other necessary tasks around the centre.

This is all carried out in a stunning jungle area next to a lake and ringed by mountains.

Accommodation and food
You will be living in a volunteer cabin on site. You will share a room with one other person. Three meals per day are provided in the on-site restaurant. Breakfast consists of freshly baked bread, eggs and fruit. Lunch and dinner include soup, rice or noodles, vegetable dishes and a meat dish. It is delicious, and allows you to taste real local food.

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
We are committed to taking care of the environment, both in our office in the UK and on our projects around the world. We are proud to say that we are working hard to eliminate the use of single use plastics on our elephant volunteering project in Laos.
Staff are provided with large crates or cloth bags when shopping, to avoid them using shopping bags. Every steps are made to avoid purchasing any food which has single use plastic. Largely this is feasible as the food is all fresh vegetables and fruits, rice and noodles (bought in large re-useable sacks) and freshly baked bread.
Food available at the project is fresh, and designed to be eaten fresh. Any bar snacks are homemade and therefore do not have plastic packaging but Tupperware boxes are provided for storage when necessary.
No single use plastic projects are bought for volunteer use eg there are no shampoos, soaps or other such items in plastic bottles or sachets. Volunteers are made aware that we encourage as little single use plastic as possible on our projects, and we are currently writing a guide for how to travel with as little single use plastic as possible. This will be made available to all travellers.
We ask all volunteers to bring their own water bottles from home, to discourage the buying of bottled water on a daily basis. We request that volunteers do not buy single plastic water bottles. This is communicated pre-departure and once in-country. Clean drinking water is provided. Volunteers can fill their water bottles from the clean water tank before going out and about on the project. Glasses are provided for drinking water, and volunteers can buy re-useable bottles on site.
Bamboo straws are used in the bar. All bottled drinks for sale are in glass bottles.
As a result of this campaign led by Responsible Travel, we got in touch with the supplier who handles our t-shirt distribution to talk about packaging. They used to send out all our T-shirts in a plastic envelope - upon our suggestion they have agreed to stop putting the t-shirts in plastic wallets and now use paper envelopes instead.
US pricing:
The currency converter above works on todays exchange rate. We do take bookings in USD but the price is set at a rate confirmed months in advance and is typically above the current exchange rate. Please enquire for details.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos


Our placements are designed to immerse you in a different culture, living and working with local people. There’s plenty to gain personally from this. But we make sure that local people benefit too by choosing projects that bring tangible improvements to their lives.

The importance of the project:
Lao elephant numbers have been falling dramatically for the last 100 years. For every 10 elephants that die, only two are being born. Just 800 elephants are living in Laos, which is a tragedy for a country that used to be known as the "land of a million elephants". This project aims to increase the numbers of elephants in Laos, and hopefully to reverse this tragic trend. Elephants are monitored daily by the on-site biology and vet team, as well as the volunteers. This includes their behaviour, social interaction, what they are eating, where they are going and how they are adapting to their new environment. This data allows further understanding of captive elephants that are being rehabilitated - as this is the first project of its kind in Laos, it is leading the way in this and is constantly learning from how the elephants are acting to ensure their best welfare. This information has been shared with other similar projects in Asia, and is enabling elephant welfare to be improved across the continent.

Volunteers are not allowed to ride elephants.

Caring for the environment:
We send out comprehensive pre-departure briefing, which includes a section on protecting the local environment. In particular we advise participants to take care with water, which is scarce in many of our destinations. We recommend they avoid unnecessary washing, using hand wash gel where they can. We also instruct them on how to dispose of waste properly, not to litter and, where possible, to avoid using plastic water bottles which are not easy to dispose of environmentally. Those going trekking are advised to keep to marked footpaths so as to prevent further erosion of the landscape.

Our company is an environmentally responsible one that operates recycling and reusing of waste products. We also offset carbon emissions in our office (gas, electricity, business mileage) and encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions via a carbon offset scheme run in conjunction with Tree Aid. This project strives to adhere to the strict Responsible Travel policy, and has been developed so that it addresses actual local needs and has the community’s needs at its heart. Understanding and respecting the host community is paramount to the success of any project as long term commitment, support and adoption of sound environment, economic and social practices. This project employs as many local people possible, making it sustainable socially as well as environmentally.

Energy and waste
The centre is powered by solar panels. As much recycling as possible is done each day. All buildings are constructed from local materials and built by local people.


Meeting local needs:
This project employs mainly local people. There are 400 privately owned elephants in the region, many in poor states of health. The centre works with these elephants and their owners to try to help them to care for their elephants, and they welcome them to use the elephant hospital if care is needed.

Cultural sensitivity:
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Sri Lanka. Our policy is to send people to the developing world in small groups or individually. This minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination and helps them to integrate into the local community.

Campaigning for change
This project works to change the future for animals who have been subjected to harm and mistreatment. The aim is simple: to provide a home for mistreated animals in an environment as close to nature as possible. A programme actively runs to rescue, rehabilitate and release captive wild animals with this hope to repopulate Laos's forests and jungles. An education programme runs for locals, children and visiting tourists to make them aware of the importance of animal welfare.

1 Reviews of Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 08 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was very interesting observing and learning about the elephants. Following the elephants up into the forest was exciting, and I loved getting so close to the elephants and getting to touch them.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure that you bring an old pair of pants, top, shoes and gloves if you end up doing some wall painting, as you will get paint all over your new clothes. But
it's so much fun doing work around the camp, no matter how dirty you get!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I feel that volunteering for the elephant sanctuary in Laos was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in my life, which I have no doubt had an impact and benefited, small or large, everyone and everything around us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Everything was better and more enjoyable than I had anticipated. The surroundings were so peaceful, making you feel completely out of touch with the
problems going on around the world. The huts and bathroom facilities were basic yet clean. The food was excellent and healthy. All the staff, including the
mahouts, were so friendly and down to earth.

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