Elephant Conservation

Sayaboury - Laos

Only 960€ per week!

Set in an untouched environment away from the tourist-trail, come and interact with the majestic “gentle-giants” in their natural habitat.

Join the country’s oldest elephant hospital dedicated to those which have been victims of logging accidents and those affected by diseases. You can help rescue these endangered “gentle giants” and give them the care and love they deserve, all while enjoying the beautiful sights and natural surroundings of Sayaboury.

Culture
Learning
Leisure
Community Engagement
Physical Demand





Program Description

Join this program to work up-close with mahouts, the ancient elephant caretakers of Asia, and get up close to the elephants as well as contribute to their well-being through various activities like bathing, trekking and assisting them at the elephant nursery, hospital, museum and more!

You will also share the life of the mahouts and learn more about the lifestyle of their centuries-old culture. Your program begins with our 3 days ‘Exploration’, then you will be asked to assist us in the Center’s development by participating in the many activities on site such as:

  • Helping the vets and mahouts prepare elephant food
  • Produce elephant dung paper
  • Create handicraft with the paper
  • Help clean the breeding area
  • Assist in the kitchen and receive Lao cooking lessons
  • Help our staff learn some English
  • Maintenance work
  • Gardening
  • Photography and artwork
  • And any other activities depending on the Center’s needs!

You’ll spend time with the Mahouts, who will be happy to share some of their secrets with you and offer you the chance to ride their elephant, bareback, to experience the creatures and feel the world from a mahout’s viewpoint. Hold on and try to get used to their swaying steps!

You will have the opportunity to take the elephants back to the forest where they spend the night grazing and sleeping. As you stroll together with these magnificent creatures into the dense forest of Nam Tien, remember to take a moment to appreciate your surroundings! This is the REAL land of elephants! Your guide will also give you an overview of the biodiversity of our protected forest.

You’ll have opportunities to attend the elephant's’ daily bath and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters. Elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and love water. During bath time you will also get to witness the full display of the unique bond between the mahout and his elephant!

After a short boat trip on the lake, you will then discover our nursery. It is located in the forest where the baby elephants are learning how to sustain themselves, closely watched by their mother.

At sunset, board our boat for a relaxing cruise on the Nam Tien Lake. Enjoy fresh drinks and snacks, go for a swim or simply stare at the amazing environment around you. An unforgettable and entertaining experience with our friendly staff!

Our veterinarians and biologists will take you into their world and they will explain the field and research work they undertake in Laos and the region. Through the visit of the only Elephant Hospital in Laos, you will uncover the conservation efforts being made by ElefantAsia NGO.

You will have free time to walk the elephants back to the forest, visit the elephant museum, cruise on the lake on kayaks and go for a swim everyday. You can also choose to watch a movie on elephants or simply sit on a viewing platform and observe baby elephants as they graze and socialize!

Aims & Objectives

  • Assist the efforts of conserving these endangered elephants in the wild
  • Give you an authentic experience in a jungle setting
  • Help you appreciate and bond with these beautiful animals

Schedule

Sunday

  • Pick up at Sayaboury Bus Station
  • Boat trip
  • Lunch
  • Guided visit of the Center
  • Encounter elephants, veterinarians, and mahouts
  • Elephant bath
  • Follow the elephants in the forest
  • Dinner with the staff

Monday

  • Breakfast
  • Pick up elephants in the forest
  • Interacting with elephants
  • Lunch
  • Visit of the Nursery
  • Elephant bath
  • Sunset cruise
  • Dinner with the staff

Tuesday

  • Breakfast
  • Visit of the Elephant Hospital with vets and/or biologists
  • Elephant bath
  • Lunch
  • Community work
  • Dinner with the staff

Wednesday to Saturday

  • Breakfast
  • Pick up elephants in the forest
  • Community work
  • Lunch
  • Elephant bath
  • Free time
  • Dinner with the staff
  • Transfer back to Sayaboury Bus Station on Saturday

   Note:   This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Participant Criteria & Requirements

Standard Requirements

Minimum age:

Maximum age:

Minimum English level: Basic

CRB required: On Signup

Passport copy required: No

Resume copy required: No

Required qualification: None

Additional Requirements

There are no further requirements for this program.

Additional Equipment

No special equipment is required.

Location

The historic town of Sayaboury is commonly referred to as the "Elephant Capital" of Laos. The Elephant Centre itself is located at the foot of a naturally forested peninsula dividing into the incredible Nam Tien Lake. Whilst at this reserve, you cannot help but bask in the stunning views over Phou Xang (a.k.a Elephant Mountain).

About the Accommodation

You will be housed in basic, yet scenic rooms that have been renovated using craftsmen from Viengkeo and traditional techniques.

The bungalows are simple, traditional stilt bamboo huts with a private balcony and a view on the Nam Tien lake and it’s location by this lake provides fresh air to the bungalows for most of the year.

Food Arrangements

The in-house kitchen deliver a variety of traditional Lao foods. The food is vegetarian-friendly and our cooks do not use MSG (monosodium glutamate). The dishes are prepared with fresh produce from the local market or the Center’s gardens. Feel free to order drinks and snacks on-site and enjoy them by the lake! Everyone eats together in the dining room, this has a great atmosphere, and you can purchase drinks and snacks here anytime and relax between activities.

Facilities

This location is very remote. There are no ATMs so we suggest that you have enough money on you before setting off to this location.

Activities & Events

No scheduled activities outside the program.

Sights & Surroundings

The Elephant Conservation is deservedly Sayaboury’s biggest attraction and it is most likely that you will be making the most of this by staying here on your free days and soaking in the beautiful surroundings and scenery.

Otherwise, Sayaboury town hosts a morning market where you can find delicious local food for those who want to experience the nearby township!

Transportation

From this location we provide free transport to your next program at the following location(s):

  • Vientiane (Naxaythong District)

Quick Facts

Name: Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Population: 7 million

Capital: Vientiane

Language: Lao

Currency: Kip (LAK)

Time zone: ICT +7:00

Country Information

Once known as the ‘land of a million elephants’, Laos is the only landlocked country in Asia, bordered by Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It became a French protectorate in 1893 and finally became an independent country in 1953 with a constitutional monarchy. This monarchy however was shortly ended by a long civil war. Today Laos is a single-party socialist republic whilst remaining strongly influenced by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army. The Laotian people make up roughly 60% of the population whilst indigenous groups and hill tribes account for 40% of the Laotian population.

It is a country that has a lot to offer whether it’s the underground river caves, the white-water rapids and jungle zip lines for thrill seekers, the beautiful forests for trekkers and nature lovers or the wonderful cuisine for the foodies!

Climate

The average temperature in Laos is around 29°C although in the cooler months, temperatures can drop to around 15-20°C. It has a tropical monsoon climate with its rainy season spanning from May to October. The dry season can be subdivided into two categories: the cool, dry season spanning from November to February and then the hot, dry season which lasts from March up to April.

High season in Laos tends to be from November to March when the temperatures are more agreeable, note that prices rise accordingly during this period too! July and August can be quite wet with high humidity but the landscape becomes especially greener during this time. The low season months can be found from April to June and September to October. April and May are especially hot, this is when temperatures are most likely to reach 40°C, the months of September and October can be incredibly wet as well.

Culture

Like its neighbours Cambodia and Thailand, Theravada Buddhism is the dominant form of religion in Laos and has a significant influence in Laotian culture, playing a role in its language, art, literature and performing arts.

It is a country that has managed to retain its authenticity and traditions, more so than some of its neighbours which are becoming increasingly modernised and succumbing to western influences in many ways.

Gastronomy

The staple food in Laos is steamed sticky rice, which is thought to have originated in Laos. The Laotian people are thought of as the largest consumers of sticky rice in the world. Galangal (comparable to ginger), lemongrass, and padaek (fermented fish sauce) are all important ingredients in Lao cuisine.

Transportation

Most of the towns and cities in Laos are easy to discover by foot but taxis and tuk-tuks are available for those who prefer not to walk.

Songthaew

Often called “minivans”, songthaew means “two rows” in Thai. They are a kind of pickup truck with a roof with benches in the back. This is a very local and authentic way to travel short distances in Laos and the most economic way as well.

Plane

Lao Airlines offers domestic flights and will get you anywhere within 40 minutes including destinations that would take a 12 hour bus ride to reach. Downside? It is costly as the airline’s routes are near-monopolized. The popular Vientiane-Luan Prabange flight costs around 200 USD one-way.

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