How to volunteer at an Elephant sanctuary

For all of you who want to do something extraordinary, something challenging and simultaneously something good: volunteer for a month at ElephantsWorld in the province of Kanchanaburi, Thailand. This month will be one of the best months of your life. Promise. 

How to apply: have a look at their website, read the requirements and expectations of a volunteer and write an e-mail together with the time you want to come, your motivation and your CV. They will contact you as soon as possible.

How to get there: I flew into Bangkok from New Zealand, had a short night in Bangkok and took a cab to the Thonburi train station to Kanchanburi Train station. You can also arrange a taxi or take a minibus. I recommend the train because it has open windows and you drive on the famous death railway. IMG_2306

Where to stay in Kanchanaburi the night before you go to ElephantsWorld: I wanted to get a good nights sleep and get some rest before I would embark on this exciting journey. That’s why I treated myself to the Sabaii @ Kan Hotel in Kanchanaburi. If you take the train, you can easily walk there from the train station (River Kwai Bridge). IMG_2316

The next morning, I got picked up at 9 am from a driver from Elephantsworld. The first day, you get to experience the normal tourist day program. During your four weeks stay, you will be guiding the visitors, so take your camera with you, you won’t have the time to take that many pictures afterwards.

The day program is finished at 4 pm and from there on you will stay at the Elephantsworld property. You sleep together with the other volunteers in basic accomodation without air conditioning but I can assure you that you will get used to it. Showers are basic and cold, as well, but it will be refreshing after a hard days work with the elephants and visitors.

What is your job there? Your main job is to guide the visitors. Becoming a teacher, this was great for me. During your month, you will learn almost anything about Asian elephants and you will even learn how to tell the (at that time) 22 elephants apart. Your morning routine is to prepare breakfast for the elephants. Every elephant gets its own basket full of vegetables and fruits and the volunteers do that job. Afterwards, you can have your own breakfast. Breakfast is different every other day but there will always be nutella 🙂

At 10 am, the visitors are coming and you will give them a short introduction. You will get assigned your own group for the rest of the day. It is your responsibility to make sure that everybody has a great day! See what the program looks like here. Every day at ElephantsWorld is different. You won’t get bored! I was always excited to meet new people from all over the world and to lead them through the day. You are the contact person if they’ve got any questions regarding elephants and I promise you that you will be able to answer (almost every) question in no time.

When the visitors are gone, you’ve got free time. Normally, everybody takes a shower, skypes, reads, or just sits down by the river and watches the elephants. Sometimes, we even went to the city of Kanchanaburi to have dinner there. Otherwise you will have dinner at Elephantsworld (always a good buffet). Normally, there is a little party once a month with the mahouts, staff and volunteers with music, chatting and laughing.

How was your month there? My month volunteering at Elephantsworld was indescribable. I met so many interesting and nice people from all over the world, I learned a lot about Thai culture, elephants and myself. The atmosphere is informal and relaxed. It was hard to say goodbye after my four weeks and I think about this place a lot. IMG_7655

What to pay: you will pay 15.000 baht plus 250 baht for your two volunteer t-shirts. For that you will get accomodation and food and much more (Agnes, the volunteer coordinator is so friendly and does almost everything for her volunteers).

What to expect: a month full of elephants, floating in the river Kwai, living according to nature, learning how to live without air conditioning and 40 degrees Celsius outside, getting used to cold showers, local thai markets, local Thai music (still have it on my spotify playlist), many new friends from all over the world, cultural exchange, good food, washing your clothes in the shower, many dogs and some cats, some spiders and lots and lots of fun. IMG_2655

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