Conscious Travel: Volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary

Volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary

From a young age, I’ve always had this yearning to help and volunteer my time to causes that were important to me. So imagine my excitement when conscious travel became a trend! This was amazing it meant that not only were people taking the time to travel but they were also giving back to the world around them. Conscious Travel will be a new series around here where every month I will showcase a good cause and a way for you to give back to your community and the world around you. I thoroughly enjoyed putting together this post for you and I hope you enjoy it as well.

So what is conscious travel?

“Conscious travel is a mindfulness for the world and its people whom we encounter upon our travels. It’s about thinking differently about the way that we travel: changing our values and perception of the world and seeing a destination through local’s eyes.

Conscious Travel’s goal is to create a sustainable travel economy that gives something back to communities through local guides and provides the traveler with an authentic experience, not just a holiday. Whether through wellness and spirituality, eco or sustainable travel, traveling consciously will make a positive impact on the world and enrich the lives of everyone we meet along the way, one footprint at a time. – Girl About The Globe”

Few Fun Facts About Elephants?

– Life Span – elephants can live for up to 70 years.

– Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating.

– They consume as much as 300-495 pounds of food per day!

– They have the largest brains in the animal kingdom.

– An elephant’s trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things-especially a potential meal. The trunk alone contains about 100,000 different muscles.

– Elephants can give birth every three to four years. The gestation period is almost two years. Babies are roughly 250 pounds when born.

Why you should NEVER ride on an elephant!

First off it is important to know that if you ever rode an elephant the poor creature that you were riding went through a horrible process called Crush. Crush is where the elephants are beaten, poked and prodded into submission. Basically, they have their free will taken away from them and are tortured until they submit to their trainer.

A lot of these elephants are stolen as babies from their parents in the wild and are very rarely given veterinarian services. On top of all of this, an elephants spine is actually quite sensitive and not meant to have a lot of pressure. Elephants do all of their heavy liftings with their trunks. You can read a more in depth article on the subject here: If You Love Elephants, Don’t Ever Ride Them. Here’s Why.

Volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary.

Elephant Nature Park

Overall the best reviews out there are for the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The park was established in the 1990’s to provide a sanctuary for elephants. At the sanctuary, you can participate in activities that range from feeding the elephants, helping to bathe them, you can also participate in a special project called saddle off! You can check out all of the different volunteer opportunities and programs here! Most programs run for a week and cost start at $450 dollars and are located all over Thailand and also in Cambodia!

Conscious Travel: Volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand or WFFT

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand is a registered foundation under Thai law.  When you volunteer at their sanctuaries and wildlife rescue centers you can expect to work hard, help wildlife, become educated and help raise awareness and you will become part of the change.

They have programs that run from 1-4 weeks long and you can extend the trip a week for $232 dollars! The elephant program cost start at $485 and range to $1295 for the four-week trip! You can choose to volunteer in Thailand and Laos.

Your cost goes towards not only your food, accommodation and associated costs, a part of it goes to the continued work of our rescue centers. It helps WFFT pay for their rescue services, their wildlife hospitals, campaigns for better welfare and protection for wildlife, as well as operational costs for the animals food, housing, and enrichment.

The cool part is they work with more than just elephants you can work with them on various other projects that range from the Wildlife Rescue CentreElephant Refuge and Education CentreWildlife HospitalForest Restoration and ConservationGibbon Release and RehabilitationWildlife Tourism CampaignStreet Elephant Campaign.

Elephants World 

“Elephants World was founded in 2008 to be a sanctuary for sick, old, disabled, abused and rescued elephants, who will receive the rest and joy that they deserve.”

Elephant world has three programs ranging from day programs, overnight program, and forest programs. The program activities walking the elephants to the forest, hiking in the mountains, and floating on the Kwai River. Programs start at $293 dollars!

Have you ever participated in conscious tourism? Would you like to visit an elephant conservatory one day?

Let me know in the comments below!


Abi Tomberlin

I’ve done missions trips – which isn’t totally the same, but you usually do ‘travel’ when you do them. In high school I went to Grenada, and that’s the only time I’ve been there! I think there 100% is a reason to conscious travel! I think there’s a reason to just travel and soak up the experience too, BUT you might even get a richer experience by being able to be a part of something local too…. =)

Marette Flora @ Floradise

Elephants are my favorite animals along with turtles. Thanks for raising awareness about why you shouldn’t ride them. I would love to volunteer here when we visit, hopefully next year!

Elizabeth Mayberry

So much great information! I love traveling like a local and experiencing the culture (not bringing my culture into it!) It is so important to be mindful and wise!

Payton Celedinas

What an incredibly well written blog! I loved this and I literally wanted to hug each and every one of those elephants. Thank you for using your voice to raise awareness about the dangers of utilizing animals for tourism!

Katie. lacoconoire

yes yes YES. i HATE seeing photos of people riding elephants on holiday. it makes me so mad and it’s so cruel.

one of the things on my bucket list is to visit an elephant sanctuary…you are living the dream!

katie xx

Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}

I had no idea about the truth behind riding elephants until I started doing research for our Thailand trip a couple years ago. We ended up spending the day at Elephants World. I wrote about it on my blog if anyone is interested in reading about our experience.

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