Volunteering with Elephants (Thailand)

Today we have Diana, of D Travels 'Round, talking about her incredible experiences volunteering with elephants in Thailand. 

Elephants in Thailand

1. Where did you volunteer?

I volunteered at Save Elephant Foundation's Elephant Nature Park.

2. Why did you choose this organization / how did you hear about it?

I kind of stumbled onto the organization and volunteer opportunity. I put a question into the world of social media in regards to a reputable place in Thailand to spend time with elephants, and the resounding answer was Elephant Nature Park.

3. How long did you spend there and how much did it cost to volunteer there?

I spent one week there. The program, which covers six nights lodging and three absolutely delicious meals a day, costs $400. The money that does not go for room/board goes directly back to the park and the care of the elephants and other animals living there.

4. What did you learn from your experience volunteering with elephants?

I learned about elephant tourism and exploitation and how we, as travelers, can help educate others to make responsible tourism decisions as it relates to all living things.

5. What was a typical day like?

The responsibilities vary each day. Breakfast is at 7 a.m., so you wake up to the chattering of elephants. Then, there is a morning chore, break, lunch, bathing elephants, an afternoon chore, a break and then dinner at 6:30 p.m. At  night, there are activities, massages from locals available and volunteer bonding. Chores range from scooping poo, preparing elephant food and cutting corn to helping with building fences, visiting the local school and more.

6. Do you think you will volunteer again?

I fell in love with the foundation. In fact, I returned to Thailand less than a year later to volunteer long-term with the founder, an amazing and inspiring woman, Sangduen “Lek” Chailert. I've been with the foundation for almost a year and have never been more in love with what Lek and the foundation are doing to help elephants and other animals, the local communities and the world.

7. Would you recommend this to anyone else?

Absolutely. It is the one thing I suggest everyone visiting Thailand experiences. And, if the volunteer experience is too long, there is always the option of a day trip or an overnight visit.


8.      Can you share a favourite memory from your time there?

There really are so many. It is such a surreal experience being among these giant animals. There were so many times one or two, or even a herd, would walk right by me as I was doing a chore. I would just stand there and marvel at how lucky they were to be rescued and to be able to live the rest of their lives without working for people, and my fortune for being able to witness it. It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences I think everyone should have. It gives you an appreciation for animals, for elephants, that you likely did not have before a visit to the park.

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2010 she quit her job in PR to go on a solo backpacking adventure and tackle her 30-Life-Crisis. After seven months abroad, journeying throughout Europe and Africa, she returned to America and relocated to Las Vegas. Following a year-long stint back in PR, she once again quit her job to follow her dreams; this time her journey took her to the elephants and Elephant Nature Park where she is involved with raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. Recently, Diana was named a finalist in the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. She was a regular contributor to Viator and recently served as the Las Vegas contributor for OneTravel.com and CheapOair.com. Her work has appeared in print and online, including The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Vegas Seven, World Nomads and more. You can follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Diana for sharing her great experience volunteering with elephants. If you're interested in other volunteering opportunities, why don't you consider checking out Generous Nomads list of volunteer work ideas

One response to “Volunteering with Elephants (Thailand)”

  1. Franca says:

    I know this place very well, I spent a month there but volunteering at the dog shelter within the park. I got to know the elephants too and learn more about these amazing animals. :)