Under the banner of the Elephant Nature Foundation, the Surin Project is a unique and innovative concept aimed at improving the living conditions of captive Asian elephants by providing economic sustainability for their owners through responsible volunteer tourism. Volunteers help with weekly projects such as cutting bamboo for enclosures, watering the crops, and farming food for the elephants. In exchange, they get to interact with the elephants off-chains, in a comfortable natural state. Perhaps most importantly, volunteers are educated about the plight of Asian elephants and leave feeling empowered to make a difference.
Types of animals: Asian elephants
Volunteer duration: 1-week minimum; Multi-week available; Always begins on Monday
Price: 12,000 THB/week (approx. $420 USD)
Includes: Transportation to/from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, lodging, all meals, program t-shirt
Accommodations Details: Each volunteer is assigned a basic room in a typical wooden “home stay.” The mattress is placed on the floor and protected by a mosquito net. One bucket shower and western toilet shared by two rooms; located just behind the homestay. Couples can share.
Workload: Light. Expect around 1-3 hours of physical work each day, but volunteers are encouraged to bow-out if things are too strenuous. You can always choose to pick up additional chores or work harder than others, but it’s your prerogative.
Typical Day: Expect to be booked from 7AM-7PM for meals, chores, elephant walks, elephant observation, group games, etc. Part volunteer part tourist, your role is to contribute to weekly tasks while enjoying the company of the elephants (and their mahouts). It’s vitally important that you soak in information about the plight of captive Asian elephants so as to feel empowered to make a positive difference upon departure.
Location/Directions: The Surin Project will arrange your round trip transport from Bangkok. If traveling independently, you will take a bus to Buriram and a Volunteer Coordinator will arrange to pick you up from the station.
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Click on the photos below to read posts and see pictures from my time volunteering at the Surin Project