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Made for Meaningful Travel

Your Extra Layer of Security


Elephant Rescue and Conservation

by GoEco

Volunteers will work closely with local communities, providing a hands-on contribution to the rescue and rehabilitation of elephants.

The Elephant Rescue and Conservation program takes place in the Mae Chaem District, five hours into the mountainous region of Chiang Mai. This remote region is known for its woven treasures, temples, waterfalls, and most importantly, as being a central location for the Karen people, a culture that has had a sacred relationship with the elephants in the region for over 100 years.  

About the Project
GoEco has teamed up with one of the world's leading conservation organizations to bring you this unique volunteering opportunity. Witness the Karen people's amazing bond with the elephants of Chiang Mai, while exploring the breathtaking scenery in the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. 

Working closely with rehabilitated elephants as well as with the Karen community, this project will allow any volunteer to deeply understand these awesome creatures and create bonds one would never think possible. Trips through the surrounding forest offer unique opportunities to learn about traditional food and the medicinal qualities of plants in the area.

Not only will volunteers be exposed to the tribal knowledge of the Karen people, but also be given the opportunity to teach and pass on some of their own knowledge at the local school or through other community projects. Working in the Mae Chaem District with the locals will allow each volunteer to be transported into an authentic cultural experience, while remaining not far from the modern wonders of Chiang Mai.

The goal is to bring these elephants back into the forest, and their mahouts back to the village with their families, and to allow them to lead as natural of lives as possible.  We follow them on hikes throughout the forest and observe their social and foraging behaviors, monitoring them for their long-term health and well-being.  

There are a few times volunteers get to directly interact with the elephants, and this happens every other Monday when new volunteers get to meet the elephants, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays when we do health checks with them (looking them over for bumps, bruises, scratches etc.).  When we're not observing them, the elephants socialize and forage independently, being checked on by their mahouts a few times a day. 
Volunteer Work and Contribution
You will discover how to interpret elephant behavior during which time you will witness the direct impact of the program on the quality of life for the elephants in the region. You will be based in the village of Huay Pakoot and working in the surrounding forested  area, nearby farmland, and within the local community.

The main outcome of the project is to support the community efforts to reintroduce rescued elephants into their natural habitat. 

Tasks may include:
  • Tracking elephants in the jungle
  • Assisting with veterinary duties
  • Monitoring elephant relocation programs
  • Assisting on numerous village projects
  • Discovering traditional food and native wildlife

Program Add-Ons
Take your volunteering experience one step further!  Through the Internship Certification Program, you’ll have a personal mentor who will help you develop leadership skills, routinely assess your progress and provide a professional reference upon completion of the program. 
Please note that there is an additional cost for this program.

Suitable for


Typical day

A typical day starts off with breakfast, followed by a 7am departure for the day's work. First task of the day is to locate the elephants in the jungle. This is a good opportunity to get friendly with the forest's many locals: monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels, deers, etc. 

After administering a quick health inspection you will observe and learn the elephants' behaviors, during which time you will also assist with the reintroduction program. Afternoons are spent contributing to any village projects and tackling the weekly tasks. Volunteers are expected to work from Monday – Friday, leaving Saturday – Sunday as free days to explore the village or do some further travelling.   

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
Criminal Background Check
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
-Enthusiasm and flexibility
-Motivation to work with animals
-Willingness to get hands dirty
-Work well in a team
-Travel and medical insurance
-Immunizations (consult your doctor)
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Any questions? Just ask. We at GoEco are happy to help you.

Free-time activities

The program allows volunteers some personal time to discover the region and go on further adventures. Being northern Thailand's largest city, Chiang Mai offers diverse leisure and entertainment. 

The city boasts a modern attitude, with a selection of nightclubs, boutique hotels, night markets, and restaurants along the city boulevard. Chiang Mai still holds onto many ancient wonders making it a great place for sight seeing. 

Just outside of Chiang Mai, one is able to explore the wildlife and flora that is unique to Thailand; there is truly something fantastic to discover around every corner. 


Included Services

What's included?
Included in the fees are the accommodation, 3 meals a day, 2 meals per day during the weekend, transportation from meeting point to project location as well as our local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support.

Furthermore, a comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage is included. You will also receive a pre-departure kit with the full project details as well as all necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival.
Volunteers stay with local families in home-stays within a traditional community. The quarters are very basic with squat toilets and bucket showers. Volunteers are provided with a small pillow, sheets, and a mosquito net.

Internet: no internet available in the village and minimal phone reception; best to tell family and friends that there isn't any communication. The project is in a rural location. 

Laundry: local laundry services are available and fairly inexpensive. Otherwise, volunteers can purchase detergent and wash by hand.

Volunteers are expected to adapt and show respect to the new environment in which they will be living. This is a great opportunity to partake in an authentic cultural experience. 
Food & Beverages

All meals are provided in the village. Most meals are rice based with fresh vegetables and meat, fish, or egg. The food is typically richly flavored with chili and local herbs. Vegetarians can easily be catered for and spice levels can be adjusted.

Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks
7 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Chiang Mai/Thailand between 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. GoEco will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with GoEco during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Thailand

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Thailand. Please check the visa regulations for Thailand.
Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in Thailand and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
Living costs vary with each destination. We give an overview of what you should plan as an estimated budget to volunteer in Thailand.
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Thailand.

What's next?

The nearest airport is Chiang Mai International (CNX) in Chiang Mai. We assist you to find cheap flights to Thailand.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Thailand provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Thailand you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Thailand.
What can you do in leisure-time in Thailand while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Chaing Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand

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