LIFE Volunteering

VOLUNTEERING

Turn your holiday into a rewarding, interesting and challenging volunteering experience.

Join us in the beautiful mountains of northern Thailand, for a unique opportunity of watching our elephants roam freely in their forest home and immerse yourself in the rich and ancient culture of the Karen people that call these mountains home.

Whilst you are with us, you will not only be spending time with and contributing towards keeping our beautiful elephants here, but you will be helping villagers in their daily lives, while learning about their traditions and culture, and assisting with our reforestation project.

Help us to make a positive impact in this mountain community and we promise that your stay and hard work will make a memorable and lasting impact on you in return. Through a longer stay at the project you will have the opportunity to become an important part of helping us to keep our elephants in their forest home.

EXPERIENCE 2:

Volunteering – One Week Itinerary

DAY PRIOR

The Village is located near the city of Mae Sot. We reccomend you arrive to Mae Sot before 5 pm on the day before your stay with us. Mae Sot is a diverse and fascinating border town, with one of the best border markets in Thailand. You can stay at your chosen guesthouse or hotel and enjoy the Thai-Burmese fusion cuisine. Mae Sot is easy to get to by bus or flight.

DAY 1: Introduction and Arrival

  • Wake up and enjoy breakfast in the town of Mae Sot.
  • After breakfast begin the beautiful drive up into the cloud forest to the tiny Karen village perched on top of a mountain.
  • Arriving in the village you will be welcomed by the villagers and introduced to your host family.
  • You will be given a tour of the village and then take part in a village activity; this could be basket weaving or fabric weaving.
  • Followed by a welcome dinner

DAY 2

  • Wake up and have breakfast with your host family
  • Prepare yourself for a day out in the forest with the elephants, learning about the life of Karen elephants and their mahouts.
  • Sit amongst the pristine untouched cloud forest, observing the elephants living in the freedom of their forest home; enjoy lunch with the mahouts in the forest.
  • Walk through the forest in search of seeds to plant at the tree nursery the following day.
  • Take some time to rest or wander the village
  • Dinner with your host family

DAY 3: Tree Nursery

  • Wake up early and have breakfast with your host family and prepare to spend the day at the tree nursery.
  • Visit our very own tree nursery; be briefed on the purpose of the trees and the importance of preserving the elephant’s natural habitat.
  • During the day you will assist with preparing seeds for planting, planting seeds, watering the seedlings and / or weeding the garden beds
  • All the while learning about the different plants found in the surrounding forest, which plants the elephants eat and which plants have medicinal uses afterwards returning to the village to rest and soak up the feeling of being immersed in such an incredible community.
  • Have dinner with your host family.

DAY 4: Meditation and Traditional Weaving

  • Wake early and go to the temple to watch the sunrise and meditate with the monk, after meditating sit and enjoy a delicious and simplistic breakfast at the temple
  • Spend the day learning how to weave beautiful traditional Karen fabrics with the women of the village. Help the women to prepare lunch and eat it together.
  • During the afternoon learn how to weave traditional bamboo baskets with the men of the village.
  • Dinner with your host family and an evening of traditional Karen music and stories.

DAY 5: Farming Day

  • Wake up and enjoy breakfast with your host family before heading out to help them in the fields.
  • Depending on the season you will either visit the local organic rice fields or coffee plantations and help villagers with their crops and learn about the traditional methods of growing produce in the mountains.
  • Learn how to survive in the forest by foraging for edible native vegetables and plants.
  • Enjoy lunch with the villagers in their fields
  • Return to the village and enjoy a quiet afternoon in the community.
  • Dinner with your host family.

DAY 6: Elephants and Reforestation

  • Breakfast with your host family
  • Return to the forest in search of the elephants, taking with you young trees from the tree nursery to plant in the forest on your way to re-locating the elephants.
  • Sit and observe the elephants foraging freely in the forest, surrounded by the sounds of nature. Enjoy lunch with the mahouts.
  • Go to the temple and watch the sunset on your last evening with us over the mountains, with views as far as Myanmar.
  • Dinner altogether followed by a traditional Karen farewell party
  • Note: Tree’s cannot be grown in the forest during dry season

Day 7: Departure

  • Wake up and have final breakfast with host family
  • Say your goodbyes and depart the village

Prices (Overall cost per person)

Experience 2 – Volunteering (4 days / 3 nights)
Number of people Cost per person Deposit per person Balance per person
2+ People £450.00 £50.00 £400.00

*Due to ground costs, solo volunteers are subject to 50% premium. We are always happy to match solo travelers with each other to create a group volunteering trip

Transportation Costs: Round Trip
1 Person: £115 4 People: £57
2 People: £57 5 People: £46
3 People: £38 6 People: £38

Accomodation Choices

Joining us on one of our mountain adventures you are given an accommodation choice, we ask that you to choose the style of accommodation you wish to stay in prior to arrival;

Option 1 – Our guest lodge - £50.00 GBP Per person added to Program Fee

Our guest lodge has been built at the very top of the village, providing guests with the most incredible views over the village and out across the stunning forest and mountains.

The lodge is equip with comfortable beds, mosquito nets, a large communal area allowing you to soak up the surrounding views and a private bathroom with a western toilet and hot shower – this is a very foreign and luxurious concept within the village. While you will not be living with a host family, there will be a family allocated to cater for you during your stay, providing you with delicious traditional Karen dishes and hot drinks!

Option 2 – Stay with a homestay – Included in Basic Program Fee

Staying with a host family is both welcoming and comfortable. Placing you in the very heart of village life, leaving you with a real sense of community living. Each homestay is different, but all host stunning views and friendly smiling faces – all of which will be eager to learn more about you, your family and your country, making you feel right at home in no time. Your host family will provide you with bedding and a mosquito net. The Karen sleep on the floor and this is what is also provided for you, with the addition of a small mattress for additional comfort

Bathrooms are clean and accessible with Asian style squat toilets and traditional bucket showers – which are either refreshing or bracing depending on the time of year! Your host family will cook for you throughout the duration of your stay, providing you with delicious traditional Karen dishes and the opportunity to sit together and be a part of their incredibly unique and special way of life.

Please note;

Additional night’s stay can be arranged upon request and if there is availability.

Prices are in GBP sterling, please ask for a quote in a different currency if required. All prices are per person per trip.

Transportation costs are not included in overall costs per person.

We are able to source the most cost effective local transport which is fully insured, the location of our project is a 4 hour drive from Chiang Mai, through mountainous terrain on rural roads. We are particular with the drivers that we choose, ensuring that we are hiring people who are familiar and confident on the mountain roads, the village location is very rural and can be difficult to find. We provide an English-speaking guide for both journeys.

It is always best to take our transport, please ask any questions regarding this that you may have.

Payments:

The deposit of £50 per person must be paid to the Mahouts Elephant Foundation at the time of booking.

The balance must be paid to Mahouts Elephant Foundation (agents for mahouts Elephants LTD Partnership ), at least eight weeks before the start date of the trip.

Groups are usually limited to a maximum of six people, for the well- being of the elephants, village and the forest.

Important Information

Things to remember:

  • The trips include walking through the forest in the heat so a reasonable level of tness is required.
  • We can tailor packages for larger groups or those that may want to change things around for their own needs.
  • We work with Mahouts Elephants LTD Partnership who have local insurance, but it is ESSENTIAL that you travel with your own personal travel insurance at all times.
  • The deposit will be taken for each person booking in, this is NON REFUNDABLE and will be paid to Mahouts Elephant Foundation, a UK registered charity. The rest of the payment must be made to Mahouts Elephant Foundation on behalf of our ground team with whom your ground arrangement contract is with and who will take care of you on your trip to the village.
  • Part of the money for your trip includes a donation to the elephant fund within the village. This is a vital income to help run a sustainable project to ensure ALL of their elephants are returned to the forest in the future.
  • Mahouts Elephant Foundation is a UK registered charity and we welcome all donations. We are supporting the elephants you are visiting and their mahouts to live in the forest and we need your help to continue this vital work.

What’s included in your trip with Mahouts Elephants LTD Partnership?

Mahouts Elephant Foundation are pleased to offer ground arrangements through a local company; Mahouts Elephants LTD Partnership.

Whilst all arrangements in Thailand are organised by our ground staff team, all other arrangements prior to the commencement of your trip will be organised by Mahouts Elephant Foundation.

  • Private transport to and from Mae Sot.
  • All meals included during your stay.
  • Home stay fee in the village.
  • Professional English-speaking guide.
  • Local guides and team fee.
  • National Park fee.
  • Donation for the elephant fund.
  Cold season Dry season Wet season
When to visit November - February March - May May - October
Average temperature 10-23 °C 24-31 °C 23-28 °C

 

To book a trip please email: sarah@mahouts.org or call: 07787 565302