Duration & Fees
Please note: The currency conversion is an estimate based on today's exchange rates and is to be used as a guide only. All payments to Amanzi Travel have to be made in Pounds Sterling (GBP)
Volunteers can join on any Monday during the year.
This project is open year round.
£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure
- Transport from Chiang Mai to project on start date and from Elephant Nature Park to Chiang Mai on end date
- Simple accommodation at the project
- Three meals a day
- Practical education on challenges facing elephant conservation
What's not included
- International flights and transport to and from Chiang Mai
- Any visas or vaccinations required
- Comprehensive insurance, including cover for repatriation
- Any personal items such as snacks, trips, entertainment
Journey to Freedom is a unique project which offers the volunteer the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with the elephants, to develop learning experiences for local school children and to learn about local agriculture and the culture of the local community by living with them in a tribal village in the mountains of Chiang Mai.
For centuries the Karen tribe has cared for elephants in the jungles of South East Asia. Sadly, through unemployment, they were forced to lease their elephants to trekking camps and elephant tourist shows. Now the time has come for the elephants to return to the village and their natural habitat. Journey to Freedom is a project that embeds volunteers into the culture of one of Thailand’s oldest hill tribes while gaining a fascinating insight to the life of forest elephants. Volunteers will be able to witness first hand the daily life of the Karen people, to become involved in the community and enjoy intimate encounters with the world's largest land mammal. Volunteers will become part of a conservation team that brings joy to the lives of this community and assists in the daily care of elephants.
Journey to Freedom volunteers also spend the final night at the Elephant Nature Park where they can swap stories of their experiences with Elephant Nature Park volunteers.
- Spend time daily with the elephants; feed and walk alongside these gentle giants through the jungle to the waterfall.
- Gain a fascinating insight to the life of elephants in their natural habitat and observe the way they behave when surrounded by the jungle.
- Enjoy delicious Thai food, freshly cooked each day for the volunteers.
- Meet people from all walks of life with similar interests and make life long friends.
- Make a difference in a community while learning about their traditional way of life.
- Be apart of a blessing ceremony which thanks volunteers for their contribution to the community and enjoy a final party on Saturday night at the Elephant Nature Park with the chance to swap stories with other volunteers.
Supporting the Elephants - to live free in their own home lands.
Education of the local Karen community - encouraging them to treasure and value their environment.
Improving the living standards of the local community - by building clean village toilets, water tanks, running water pipe systems, bridges for school children, temple and nursery school construction etc.
Increasing the income for the Karen women - for centuries the jobs for these women were as a mother and taking care of plantation farms. Their income depended on their husband. This project trains them to improve their weaving quality and to increase their knowledge of natural dyeing. Elephant Nature Park assists this initiative by buying their products to sell on to visitors.
Developing and improving the welfare of the animals in the village - helping to improve hygiene and care for domestic animals such as pigs, buffalos, and cows.
Providing animal vaccinations and medical care - through the vet and volunteers who help treat and care for the domestic animals.
Working together with the local community - volunteers help by working in the rice fields, temples and schools to improve, develop and pass on skills.
Saving the forest and wild animals around the area- in these areas there are many wild gibbons benefiting from forest replanting and the setting up of fire breaks.
NB: The above gives an outline of the normal daily volunteer activities but may change at any time without notice to meet the needs of the wildlife and the community. Volunteers should be prepared for traveling on rough roads to and from the project.
Volunteers will be accommodated in a shared Karen-style house which is designed to allow volunteers to be at one with nature. There are no beds, but comfortable mattresses and mosquito nets are provided along with bedding. A cold shower and toilet are located right next to the house. There are electrical sockets available.
All meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks - during the week's work at the village or park are included, commencing with lunch on the Monday start date and ending with lunch on the final Sunday. Local Thai food, including vegetarian, is available as are tea and coffee. Breakfast is at 7.00 am and dinner is at 6.00 pm.
At the centre of Indochina, is the Kingdom of Thailand – as it officially known. Thailand nestles between Burma, Laos and Cambodia above and Malaysia below, with the Gulf of Thailand to the south and the Andaman Sea to the west.
Thailand’s second largest city of Chiang Mai is known as the Rose of the North and visitors can experience homestays in local villages, rural jungle treks and 13th century Buddhist temples. The islands on Thailand’s east coast consist of Koh Phangan, Koh Toa and Koh Samui, which are famous for Full Moon parties, diving and tourism respectively and of course white sandy beaches and coral reefs. While Koh Phi Phi was hit by the 2004 Tsunami, it is also the home of ‘The Beach’ and iconic limestone cliffs. Other synonymous activities with Thailand are Muay Thai boxing, Thai cooking courses, mountain climbing, elephant riding, river rafting, canopy walking, learning to dive and holistic retreats.
The capital city Bangkok is the country’s political, commercial and cultural hub, as well as being the gateway to Thailand for most travellers arriving by air. The city is a mixture of old and new, with high rise skyscrapers, old temples, the Royal palace, wide dominating motorways and little shops on street corners. The city is used as a hub to travel around the rest of the country and its many islands, as well as the surrounding countries. Thai people are, as throughout Asia, extremely warm and welcoming and cannot help but wear that huge Asian smile.
Highlights of country
- Includes jungles, mountains, islands and beaches
- Warm and friendly Thai people
- Learn to dive in Koh Tao
- Legendry Full Moon parties on Koh Phangan
- Easy access to other Asian countries for further travel
Thailand has a tropical climate almost all year round. Southern Thailand has two seasons; the wet season and the dry season, which are the different on the east and west coasts. The east coast has rain between September and December, while the west has heavy storms from April through until October. The south of Thailand receives the most rain, with around 2,400 mm falling each year, which is 1,000 mm more than central and northern Thailand.
Northern Thailand’s seasons are more defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, except for expected rain between February and March. From November to March, there are cooling breezes in northern Thailand while the temperatures rise between March and May.
Population – 66.80 million
Capital - Bangkok
Currency – Thai Baht (THB)
Official languages – Thai
Time difference – GMT + 6
Telephone - +66
I arrived home last night after spending a total of 7 wonderful days at The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. I cried when I was leaving because my time there was so memorable and heart warming, I am going back there next year! Lek and her staff are amazingly dedicated people! …. The food was restaurant quality and the sanctuary itself is a true haven for abused elephants!
Do yourself a favour and take a week or two to treat yourself to a life changing experience. Some of the friends I made were visitors to the sanctuary for their 7th time. Thanks to all the wonderful staff and especially to Lek who without this, the life of those beautiful elephants would not be as happy as it is now!
Vicki (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)
Thank you so much for an awesome week! I had the time of my life! Lek you are one of the most beautiful persons I ever met. And guides Johnny, Jane & Stan you guys are great - thank you so much too, I had so much fun and you were taking so much care of everybody! The elephants are lovely! I'm so happy for them they got a new chance for a way better life.
Lis, Holland (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)
I volunteered at the Elephant Sanctuary for a week and loved it! It's such a unique experience. The physical work could be hard for some but it's so worth it because you see how happy and content the animals are. Just wanted to say a big thank you to Lek and the staff for all you have done ♥
Here, the elephants are given a chance to roam, play, enjoy long baths in the river and bum-scratches up against trees, eat fruit, and generally be adored by the many volunteers and visitors who come to see them.
The Park is also home to many other rescued animals, including a full-fledged dog shelter. Many of these animals have been through horrors beyond imagination, and Lek is truly a hero for creating this place for them. This trip re-affirmed my already passionate commitment to wildlife protection and animal welfare.
Nikita, Australia (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)
Just back from a week long elephant volunteer experience. Had an amazing time, the interaction with the elephants was fantastic and truely humbling when you realise and learn about what the elephants have been through prior to being rescued. These beautiful animals suffer so much and this is really is not highlighted at all to tourists and the affect the tourist industry has on their lives and the treatment the receive. Lek and her team, especially the volunteer Co-ordinator couldn't have made us feel more welcome!, would go back in a minute. Highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to improve their knowledge and to get up close to these amazing animals
David and Lesley, UK, aged 31 and 28 (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)
Would love to thank you for a great stay at your sanctuary our heart went out to you all for the way you are bringing these animals back from the brink. we will be back next year and if possible stay longer to help and volunteer. Thank you so much from Eddie, Jane Ed and Wendy
Eddie, 2015 (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)
Amazing experience! Hope to visit again someday! Thank you all for your hard work!
Debbie, UK 2014 (Chiang Mai Elephant Journey to Freedom, Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary)