Spend a week in the scenic hills of Northern Thailand where elephants roam freely! This project was set up to allow elephants owned by the Karen people to be brought home from trekking camps, logging, and tourist venues and return to living in their natural environment. The project allows elephants to live and roam freely and restores the close connections that the Karen people have traditionally had with their herd.
Visitors will stay at a project near a Karen Hill Tribe village. There they will learn about Karen tribal culture and observe and interact with elephants who roam freely in this remote mountainous region. The project helps compensate the local community for the income they would have received from leasing their elephants to tourist camps, and it provides a new model where everyone from the local villagers, to the elephants, to the greater global community all benefit.
The project also helps the local school, where visitors can teach English and interact with the children. Other activities include providing community service in the village, helping tend to construction projects, gardening and learning about the local culture. This community project, run in cooperation with the Karen people, provides an economic boost to the village and benefits the entire community.
By participating in this project, you will help elephants live freely in their home lands, help protect the forests in which they roam, and inspire a new wave of ethical elephant treatment in Thailand. You'll get plenty of time with the elephants while observing them and walking with them through the forest. You'll watch them enjoy mud baths and interact with each other. You will not only learn what these animals need to survive in their natural habitat, you will experience their behavior up close and personal!
This community-based project will provide unique, memorable and authentic experiences. Supporting local cultural efforts takes travelers well beyond the traditional routes and provides a life-changing experience for participating volunteers.
You'll fly into Chiang Mai, where you'll be picked up at the airport and transported to your accommodations. You'll have a couple of days to sightsee around Chiang Mai, or take day trips to tourist destinations such as Chiang Rai or Doi Ithanon. On Monday morning at 9am you'll be picked up at your hotel and taken to the camp outside of the Karen village, where you will stay in shared, traditional bamboo huts. This will be a long drive, but we will stop for lunch along the way. You'll spend a week at the camp, and then return to Chiang Mai on Sunday, where you will spend one more night before being taken to the airport for your flight home. If you choose to participate in the optional add-on trip to Pai (see the bottom of this page for details), you will be picked up on Monday morning and transfered by private vehicle to Pai, spend the next night there, and return to Chiang Mai before your flight home the next day.
Breakfast starts at 7:00 am before we depart for our daily adventure at 9:00 am. Lunch is provided around midday and dinner is usually served around 6:00 pm. Some of your visitor duties will include hiking to the forest to spend time with elephants in their natural habitat, providing service to the local community and spending time with the kids at the local school.
By participating in this project, you come away with the experience of personally helping a community. You will receive fascinating insight into the natural life of elephants as well as traditional tribal life. You will have plenty of time to spend with the elephants, and you'll help future generations enjoy this experience as well. You will also come away with a real understanding of the issues facing elephants, meet people from around the world, and make friends in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
You will be staying in shared, traditional bamboo huts. There are comfortable, western-style mattresses and pillows with warm bedding and mosquito nets. You will be served delicious plant based Thailand-Western cuisine daily. Tea & coffee made with treated water is also provided, as well as snacks.
- Round-trip transportation from the airport to your hotel
- Chiang Mai hotel + breakfast
- Round-trip transportation to the project
- Lodging (for the duration of the project)
- Breakfast, lunch & dinner (for the duration of the project)
- Visitor fees (these help the project keep going, and help locals practice conservation methods)
Meals outside the project are not included, but are very cheap at the current exchange rates.
- Passport with at least six months validity
- Travel Insurance covering the duration of your stay (you will need proof)
- Hat, sunscreen, & insect repellant
- Warm clothes to sleep in (the nights at the Karen village can get very cold)
- Swimsuit for pools or waterfalls
- Close-toed walking shoes or rubber boots
- Gardening gloves
- Flashlight and/or headlamp
-Clothing for warm days and cold nights, and layers for hiking in the jungle
Thailand requires cash on hand of at least $300 (US) upon entry, although this is not always enforced. A visa is not normally necessary if you are a US or European citizen and your stay in Thailand is less than 30 days. No compulsory inoculations are required, although it is recommended that you check with your doctor to make sure your standard vaccinations (polio, typhoid and hepatitis A/B) are up to date.
I’m going to reiterate bringing warm clothes, as it sometimes reaches 50 degrees or less during the night at the project, although it will be hot during the day. There is little to no telephone or internet coverage in this area. Thaiinternet/phone company called AIS has service in the village if visitors want to buy a sim card for the week. As the project is in a remote location, visitors may not leave early.
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Just three hours over a winding mountain road from Chiang Mai lies the quaint little town of Pai, filled with good food, cool people, and scenic natural areas. We will spend 2 days exploring Pai, visiting temples, waterfalls, the famous Pai canyon, and more. The trip includes our private transfer to Pai and back, lodging in Pai, and one extra night in Chiang Mai before our flights home the following day.