Thailand elephant conservation vacation

Departure information

This project can be tailor made throughout the year
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Thailand elephant conservation vacation

Environment

Animal welfare
The project’s goal is to establish an alternative to both street begging, and to other forms of tourism, such as performing elephants and elephant rides. The project is run by an NGO, currently caring for 33 elephants that are in the main body of the park. As volunteer numbers increase, as well as funding and awareness, the NGO hopes to steadily increase the number of elephants that they can “adopt” in order to improve their standard of living and quality of life.

The project aims to have the elephants roaming freely in their natural habitat.

The set up is growing to help to provide the elephants with sustainable food- this involves planting to replace any food taken to feed the elephants, to reduce impact on the local wildlife. There is a vast importance placed on the replanting rainforest scheme.

Environment
Our company is an environmentally responsible one that operates recycling and reusing of waste products. We also offset carbon emissions in our office (gas,electricity, business mileage) and encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions via a carbon offset scheme run in conjunction with Tree Aid.

Participants are advised to use hand wash gel that does not require water. We also advise, during our pre departure course, to take care with water. In many of our destinations, water is precious and expensive.

Community

Meeting local needs
Working closely with the mahouts, this project is aiming to give purpose and income back to their community, encouraging them away from street begging and other forms of circus entertainments for tourists. All volunteers live ion site, with members of the local community employed to feed them and clean the accommodation. An education centre has been built in conjunction with the local community, to help awareness for the plight of the Asian elephant, and why this project is so important. Having volunteers here directly benefits local shops and tourism concerns run by locals.

Cultural sensitivity
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Thailand.

We send restricted numbers of people at any one time, which minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination. Our participants become fully immersed and integrated into the community.

All of our participants receive comprehensive pre-departure briefing. This covers topics on how to be culturally sensitive, how to best look after the environment when in the country and how to stay safe as well as up to date information on the political situation. They are also briefed on how to dispose of waste properly and where possible, to avoid using plastic water bottles as these are not easy to dispose of environmentally.

Reviews of Thailand elephant conservation vacation

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 11 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Being so close to the elephants and feeding them. The baby was particularly cute and mischievous.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Ignore the standards, this is the jungle, it doesn't come with air con and tv. Throw yourself into it and leave your inhibitions behind this is an adventure and will hopefully leave you with lots of good memories not "I wish I had...."

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes this vacation was highly environmentally orientated and supported by locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic, I have so many good memories

Reviewed on 27 Nov 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Feeding and bathing the elephants in their own natural habitat and seeing them roam freely in the park. Also hearing the else's trumpet noises at 6am as a lovely morning wake up.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


1 week gives you enough time to explore the park. The tasks are duplicated in week 2.

Book direct via "the elephant national park" website. Speaking to other volunteers - all of them paid less half of what I paid ... And I am not sure what I got in addition to justify the extra £300+ (the first night in the guest house was about £3 and very basic - this, to my knowledge was the only addional extra?)

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Supports conservation and welfare of the elephants who have been rescued from the hands of the mahouts who have abused/neglected the elephants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great vacation. The like-minded people were a lot of fun and the work (although at times, we felt that we could have done more) wasn't difficult, but was rewarding. The only disappointment was to find out that all of the other volunteers had booked direct and some only 3 weeks prior (so it wasn't that there was no availability when I booked beginning of October) and paid not a small amount less, but alot less.

I would rate it a 4 stars as a trip on it own - but I have to reduce the rating due to the cost difference vs booking direct with the park.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for completing the Responsible Travel feedback form. We really appreciate that you have taken the time to do this. We are delighted that you had such a great time overseas and enjoyed volunteering with the elephants. The park is an inspiring place and one that we love to work with.

We feel that it is important to address your comments about booking in the UK and booking locally in Thailand. Whilst booking directly with the park is indeed cheaper up front, in the long run booking through an agent brings you greater benefits.

We interview each participant that goes away with us, and spend as much time as is needed on the phone chatting things through, making sure that the volunteer is right for the project and that the project is right for you. Help is always at hand in the UK, either over the phone, email or even Facebook. We afford a high level of care and support to our volunteers, as this ensures that you are a good fit for the project and that your expectations are correct. This also means that you receive 24/7 support in both the UK and Thailand.

We have found that, for many people, it can be a daunting experience to book something direct as it can be unclear if it is a legitimate enterprise. Paying in a foreign currency to a foreign website is often a risk. Booking through an agent guarantees that you are paying in your own currency to a secure and trusted organisation.

Additional extras that you will have received booking through us is financial protection, a friendly service that speaks your language, extra trip preparation help, accommodation, some kit, discounts at kit providers, assistance with flights and the option of getting personalised travel insurance.

We are pleased that you benefited from our service, which ultimately meant that you were able to go to Thailand and volunteer at the park. All that we do means that our volunteers have the confidence to take the trip, and we are delighted to help hundreds of travelers to achieve these life changing trips each year.

Reviewed on 27 Jun 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing elephants up close and being so amazed at the high quality of the sanctuary

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Pack old clothes you are prepared to throw away!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was wonderful. Very satisfying to see how much effort is going in to educating people about elephants and rehabilitating ones who have been in neglectful environments.

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