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Elephants Conservation in Chiang Mai

Practical information


  • Learn about elephants from the local Karen community, who have worked alongside elephants for centuries
  • See the elephants in a more natural setting, interacting with the forest, the mahouts and each other as a semi wild herd
  • Learn about elephant history, behaviour, training, biology, social interactions and more
  • Take part in biodiversity programs and nightime wildlife surveys

Program description

The population of Asian elephants and their habitat is rapidly declining. With less than 1,000 left in the wild in Thailand, but around 3,000 in captivity, we are one of the few viable alternatives to the reality of their domesticated future within detrimental tourist camps.

Please note, this is an ethical volunteer program and we do not partake in riding elephants, demonstrating unnatural skills, or interacting hands-on with the elephants more than necessary.

Your contribution will help to keep these elephants in protected forests, continue the conservation of these beautiful animals and their habitats, provide funding to keep the project running, and offer alternative livelihoods to the local community. The goal of this project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living, socializing, and foraging in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts around their local village.

Our volunteer project aims to provide an alternative way for the elephants to bring in money for the local village while continuing to lead healthy lives that will ensure their long term conservation and survival.

A Typical Day 

You will quickly learn that village life takes its own pace, rising with the sun in the morning and relaxing later in the day. After volunteers and staff convene at base early morning for a shared breakfast and quick morning meeting about the day’s activities, the mahouts lead groups of volunteers and staff out to where the elephants have stayed overnight in the forest.

Occasionally you will have the opportunity to assist with a quick but thorough health inspection of the elephants, providing a few minutes of close contact time to truly appreciate the beauty and size of our elephants. The rest of your hike involves following the elephants as they move through the forest, socialising and foraging as they would naturally. During our time observing the elephants in the forest, interns and long term volunteers collect data on their social interactions with one another and what food sources they are using, as well as survey forest biodiversity such as gibbons, deer, snakes, birds, and a variety of insects and spiders.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to occasionally have lunch in the forest. Not only will we bring our packed lunches to share with the group in the forest, but volunteers are encouraged to assist the Mahouts in cooking a few more dishes in the field using all natural materials. After adequate time to observe the elephants and eat lunch, we hike back to the village for the rest of the day’s activities.

Afternoons in the village vary every day of the week, with opportunities to get involved in the community and build relationships among the villagers, fellow volunteers, and the staff team. Volunteers are highly encouraged to help teach English at the local school, weave baskets with a local community member, play football with the Mahouts, cook with their homestay families, and make the most of such an amazing project in such a remote and beautiful area. We also work with women in small women's groups and local children at the nursery! 

Volunteers typically work Monday through Friday, with Saturday and Sunday being either travel days back to Chiang Mai or as days off to relax around the village. Your accommodation is very basic within the traditional community, so you should be prepared to adapt and appreciate living conditions that are sure to be very different than your home country.

Download the program description

Where is your project

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Included in the price

  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Required transportation for the duration of your stay

Not included in the price

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes

Your accommodation

Our base in Chiang Mai is surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Set in northern Thailand, the project work itself takes place in the Mae Chaem District, a 5-hour journey into the mountains, where the famous Karen elephant-keeping communities reside and have shared a unique and sacred relationship with elephants for hundreds of years.


Additional information


- Up to date CV/resume.

- Copy of return flight itinerary.

- Police clearance.

- Intermediate level of English: understanding and speaking.

- Acceptance subject to availability of position.

A deposit of 300 € must be paid 7 days after sending your reservation and then the balance must be sent to us no more than 12 weeks before the start of your project.
For stays in less than 12 weeks: the full amount must be paid to confirm the reservation. 


A 50% deposit is required for booking. Balance payment is due 4 weeks prior to departure. In case of cancellation before start date, all fees will be refunded, except the deposit. In case of cancellation after start date, there will be no refund.



Our local charity relies on travellers to volunteer on various schemes around the world. We place volunteers into local communities and projects, assisting in building projects and allowing travellers to contribute to a growing community as well as making new friends.

The organisation is non-profitable and always ensures that all funding goes directly into the projects. The fee price for the volunteer experience will cover your accommodation and transport as well as a donation the projects.


Elephants Conservation in Chiang Mai
From 1845 EUR

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Elephants Conservation in Chiang Mai

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