Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Elephant Camp Volunteer Project

New One Week Placements are now Available for this Project!

This project is available in Chiang Mai.

Rising early to bathe a 2,000-pound bundle of joy. Harvesting grass shoulder-to-shoulder with a machete-wielding mahout. Fashioning elephant dung into paper… It’s not always glamorous, but serving at the elephant camp in Chiang Mai is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – one that most people would never even dream of participating in.

Interested in being a sponsor for our Elephant Fence?

Thailand Elephant Camp Volunteers – A Day in the Life

Imagine going off the grid to a highland conservation facility in Northern Thailand. Accommodation is refreshingly rustic. A river churns past the perimeter of the camp, with lush tropical foliage pushing in on every side. Solar panels provide just enough power to keep the lights on after nightfall. Eat your heart out, Jane Goodall.

That’s a fair representation of life at the Elephant Camp, and it only gets better from there. Each morning you’ll rise with the early crows of the junglefowl. But it’s likely another sound that’ll have you scrambling out of bed at the crack of dawn – the trumpeting blast of mother elephants, followed by the fainter echoes of their calves. These adorable elephants need a safe place to nurse for the first two years of their lives, and your contribution to the Elephant Camp helps make that possible.

Elephant Nursery Volunteer Tasks

Plan on lots of elephant contact time during this project. The main difference is the cuteness factor – which is honestly off the charts.

These 3000-kilogram pachyderms spend the day exploring the world and accumulating some all-important trunks-on experience under the mahout’s watchful eye. Plan on some seriously Instagramable moments.

The day begins early (around 6:30 am), when volunteers head to the river to help bathe the elephants before feeding them. After that, volunteers and on-site staff take a moment to feed themselves before tending to their daily tasks, which include everything from harvesting grass to making herbal medicine balls for the elephants, depending upon the season and what’s happening at the camp.

As a volunteer, you’ll join the full-time staff in tending the grounds and facilities. You’ll also be asked to greet and interact with day visitors at the camp, filling them in on some of the details of the important work carried out here.

Making a Difference – Thailand Elephant Nursery Volunteer Program

Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges at the elephant camp is harvesting enough food to keep these leviathans happy and healthy. The larger elephants easily weigh three or four metric tons, and they routinely eat upwards of 135 kilograms (300 pounds) of vegetation per day. When they’re nursing a calf, their daily dietary needs increase substantially.

Simply heading out with the staff on a daily basis to harvest grass, corn, bananas and other treats makes a huge difference in these elephants’ lives. By donating your time and resources to an above-board project like this – one that prioritizes elephant health and wellbeing over shows and stunts – you can also count yourself among a small-but-growing number of conscientious actors. The people at this Elephant Camp are working toward a viable solution to the elephant conservation crisis, and you can join them.

Finally, you’ll also have the chance to work with local villagers, most of whom are staff members and their families. Most of these people come from ethnic minority hilltribes in Northern Thailand and are eager to learn and practice English with visiting volunteers. Many volunteers choose to help out at the local school when time permits.

Elephant Nursery in Thailand: Volunteer Qualifications

There are relatively few restrictions on who can enroll at the elephant camp program. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. They should also be able-bodied and enjoy working outside and with animals. As with all of our Thailand-based projects, flexibility is an important asset, as is an openness to different cultures, traditions and customs.

Volunteer Stories

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

I would recommend this program to any animal lover, or anyone wanting to learn about a new species. -Dr.Diana Roberts – Colorado, USA

The elephants are amazing creatures and the happiness, simplicity and acceptance of life from the village people is so overwhelming. -Lina Quintal – Horsley, Australia


Elephant Camp Volunteer Accommodation

Accommodation is provided for the duration of the Elephant Camp project, though volunteers have a slightly different arrangement than those at other projects. During orientation, they’ll stay in Chiang Mai at FFA-provided accommodation, and they return to Chiang Mai each weekend for the duration of their project.

From Monday to Friday, volunteers stay at the elephant camp. The accommodation is delightfully rustic. You’ll have enough power to charge a phone and keep the lights for some late-night reading. Hot-water showers are available – a bona fide indulgence in a jungle setting like this.

Volunteer Fees

Participation in the Elephant Camp Volunteer Project starts at $800 US Dollars for one week, $1349 for two weeks. Each additional week (over two weeks) is $329. Visit our Fees and Payments page for more information.

Volunteer Project Fee Includes

  • Comprehensive Pre-Departure Information
  • Visa paperwork (for projects over 8 weeks)
  • FFA Volunteer Insurance
  • Airport pick up
  • Accommodation during orientation and entire project time
  • Transportation to and from Chiang Mai City and the Elephant Camp
  • Breakfast every morning
  • All meals from Monday morning to Friday afternoon
  • 2 day Orientation (including half day city tour, cultural dinner and show)
  • Onsite Coordinator
  • 24 hour emergency assistance
  • Written record of service completion (for volunteers that successfully complete their project).

Volunteer Fee Does Not Include

  • Travel to/from Home and Chiang Mai (airfare, train tickets, etc.)
  • Thailand visa costs (if applicable)
  • International Medical Insurance
  • Lunches and dinners on weekends.

Apply Now to Volunteer for this ProjectFree to Apply

Remaining Thailand Elephant Camp Volunteer Start Dates for 2023

  • 19th of June
  • 3rd of July
  • 17th of July
  • 7th of August
  • 21st of August
  • 4th of September
  • 18th of September
  • 2nd of October
  • 16th of October
  • 6th of November
  • 20th of November
  • 4th of December
  • 18th of December

Thailand Elephant Camp Volunteer Start Dates for 2024

  • the 8th of January – arriving on Friday, the 6th of January
  • the 22nd of January – arriving on Friday, the 19th of January
  • the 5th of February – arriving on Friday, the 2nd of February
  • the 19th of February – arriving on Friday, the 16th of February
  • the 4th of March – arriving on Friday, the 1st of March
  • the 18th of March – arriving on Friday, the 15th of March (two week maximum before April break)
  • Closed for the April Break
  • the 6th of May – arriving on Friday, the 3rd of May
  • the 20th of May – arriving on Friday, the 17th of May
  • the 3rd of June – arriving on Friday, the 31st of May
  • the 17th of June – arriving on Friday, the 14th of June
  • the 1st of July – arriving on Friday, the 28th of June
  • the 15th of July – arriving on Friday, the 12th of July
  • the 5th of August – arriving on Friday, the 3rd of August
  • the 19th of August – arriving on Friday, the 16th of August
  • the 2nd of September – arriving on Friday, the 30th of August
  • the 16th of September – arriving on Friday, the 13th of September
  • the 7th of October – arriving on Friday, the 3rd of October
  • the 21st of October – arriving on Friday, the 18th of October
  • the 4th of November – arriving on Friday, the 1st of November
  • the 18th of November – arriving on Friday, the 15th of November
  • the 2nd of December – arriving on Friday, the 29th of November
  • the 16th of December – arriving on Friday, the 13th of December