ELEPHANT VALLEY THAILAND
Let elephants be elephants
Elephant Valley Thailand has been working hard to build the first ever elephant sanctuary in Chiang Rai!
Covering 40 acres of land, they have some fantastic lush elephant habitats where they look after their six majestic elephants.
This is actually the second elephant sanctuary they have built and all of the work they do here is modelled on the incredible Elephant Valley Project, in Cambodia.
Their homestay is now open and they are excited to welcome you to come relax, unwind, watch elephants and volunteer all while being surrounded by the tranquil beauty of their property!
Their goal is to simply let the elephants just be elephants in a stress free natural habitat.
Putting the elephants first means that they don’t do many of the activities that you can find elsewhere (swimming, riding, cuddling and kissing elephants) and in turn they feel that this difference has come to define why they are an actual sanctuary for captive elephants. An elephant is after all, a wild animal, and should be treated as such in every respect.
By visiting the EVT you can help to support their efforts to allow these elephants to have a 2nd chance at being elephants.
We don't rate ethical standards in levels because volunteer hosts simply have to be at a specific level and cannot be lower.
We went to visit Elephant Valley Thailand as part of our on-site validation. We had a long evaluation scheme and narrowed it down to these 6 factors to create a better overview for you.
At Elephant Valley Thailand you have to be ready to live in the forest. It is beautiful and peaceful but when you are close to nature, you will also experience insects and mud. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in their outside dinning area we found to be very authentic and makes you feel close to nature. The accomodation is nice and humble. You could call it a luxurious jungle bungalow! But as they say - it's not 5 stars.
Be ready to get your inner human back into nature!
The volunteer work is at a medium/high level because there is always something to do. The sanctuary is growing to get more place for the elephants and to invite new elephants in. You can work for hours and hours if you want. You will be with the hard working staff but if after 2 hours of work you want to go back to observe the elephants then that is completely okay as well. Elephant Valley Thailand wishes to educate volunteers on true elephant behavior so observing them is also a part of the job.
The amount of information you will recieve from this place is amazing. We were bombarded with information. We never expected to become so educated on elephant behavior and we are so very happy to have gotten to truly understand the incredible story of the asian elephant, their needs and their behavior.
Through the information you will quickly learn how to spot a good elephant sanctuary and the importance of caring for these animals.
Your physical strength has to be at a high level as most of the volunteering is physical work. Being out there in the forest requires quite a lot of energy thus demanding a higher fitness level. What we loved about this was that you live really healthy with the Elephant Valley as you move all day, eat early and sleep early. If you are not used to working out, fear not! This is not at all a requirement. We just need to make sure you are ready to move around a bit.
The sanctuary is about a half an hour drive from the center of Chiang Rai. So you can go by scooter or with the sanctuary's trucks/cars. Of course the location must be quite a few kilometers away from the center as they hold big elephants at the sanctuary. But it is not too far at all for you to spend time in the center daily or every other day.
We rated the social environment at the Elephant Valley Thailand to be high as there are usually a lot of people around (tourists, volunteers, staff) and perfect conversation areas to sit and talk, have a cold beer, tell stories or play cards. There are volunteers who stay for longer than 5 days, and there are tourists as well staying for a day or two. The people you will be around come from all over the world. Here you will learn a lot about culture!
The management and staff are very friendly and we personally liked their bubbly personalities.
Moreover, the manager, Jack, lives there with his wife and children. So you are always close to the people you work with.
Volunteers & Founder
We interviewed the people behind the organization to understand where their passions for the elephants and animal welfare came from and how they use that passion to provide ethical living for the elephants.
Let elephants be elephants...
"When you visit EVT you can be assured that your trip will not harm the elephants and that your money will go to benefiting elephant welfare and conservation efforts. Both of our elephant sanctuaries practice some of the highest ethical animal welfare and care standards in South East Asia." - Elephant Valley Thailand
Every week EVT have different projects underway from planting, growing and cutting elephant food to helping with them with the latest construction projects. Often their team of fantastic staff just generally need a hand with whatever they are doing to make their place even more awesome for elephants!
Be prepared to get sweaty and dirty. Bring a long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent and a spare water bottle. Be prepared for a really enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
EVT says: Please note that this is entirely optional and if after an hour or two you want to stop and go back to watching elephants with one ofguides, that completely okay too! The elephants are after all simply awesome.
In the beautiful forests of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, you will find yourself in utter peacefulness and in close connection to nature and it's inhabitants. Have breakfast watching the elephants in the distance... or maybe a beer while watching the sundown. No matter what, you will find yourself in harmony with nature and the lovely giants.
The sanctuary has planted lawns and gardens as well as a big elephant proof fence around an old farmhouse which has been completely renovated.
The sanctuary is located x km from the relaxed but charming and vibrant town of Chiang Rai. Here you can book tours to sites on the weekend and have a day exploring the city.
To do volunteer work legally in Thailand you must have a appropriate travel visa.
You need two blank pages in your passport as well as two passport photos. Moreover, you will need a letter from the organisation underlining that you will volunteer with them for the agreed period of time. Always check with your embassy.
1 week minimum stay
Willingness to learn and observe elephants
Comfortable with humid/hot climate and naturistic surroundings
Minimum 18 yrs. old
Do not expect to ride, bath or be close to elephants. This project is completely ethical and in favor of the well-being of the elephants. You will have fun being surrounded by these amazing creatures and learn all about their behaviour and history!
A meeting with a volunteer consultant will determine if this program is the right match for you.
An additional document of volunteer guidelines will be send to applicants.
5 days of volunteering (possible to book longer)
Healthy delicious meals!
Hours on hours of observing elephants being elephants
Letter of volunteer work
Provided proper work clothes
On-sight contact person
Agency contact person
Full nature experience!
In-depth knowledge on natural and captive elephant behavior
Learn from professionals!
5 days, 5 nights - 4600 DKK
The fee covers your accommodation, food and works as a donation to the sanctuary. Moreover, a part of the fee covers the administration costs for Volunteer Abroad.