Volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

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Do you love elephants? Would you like to spend a whole week taking care of them? Then the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is just your thing. We spent a week doing the ‘Journey to Freedom’ project, and it was simply amazing.

If you’re thinking about riding an elephant, think again. The ENP takes care of elephants who got injured doing just that. It’s not only that the weight of the carrier is too heavy for the elephant’s back, it’s also that the methods their trainers use to subordinate them are pretty terrible. And that’s an understatement.


Fortunately, there’s one courageous lady named Lek, who founded the Elephant Nature Park. It all started with one elephant Lek saved from the tortures of the tourist industry. At present the ENP takes care of 40 elephants. They roam freely in a Jurassic Park like setting, beautiful and peaceful.


We spend the first 5 of 7 days somewhere else, though. Mae Joom Sam, high up in the mountains, is a tiny village with 30 inhabitants. As a volunteer we help them with anything, from fixing the roof to teaching the children English.




Our accommodation is an open room in one of the village houses. A very basic, giant spiders in the bathroom, accommodation. But so cool, it’s good being away from everything, from the iPad, iPhone, tablet, TV, computer, all that. The people are so happy here, and yet they don’t have any of that stuff. Maybe because they don’t have any of that stuff.

The last 2 days we spend in the Elephant Nature Park. Like I said, it’s amazing here. We get to bathe the elephants, feed them and pet them. Afterwards, we sit on the big terrace overlooking the park, watching the elephants.


What did it all cost?

This program costs 360 EUR for one week. It includes everything, transport, food, drinks, accommodation, entrance fees. The money is well spent, we can see it being used in such a positive way. I’m amazed it’s actually that cheap (compared to other – especially American run – voluntary programs). Good value for your money, I would say!

For more info, please visit http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/.

Want to read this blog post in Dutch? Check out my contribution to De Betere Wereld.

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12 thoughts on “Volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

  1. Thanks for this post. I love elephants but this made me think of another way to spend time up close with them. Do you get a lot of time with the elephants?

    • Hi Sha, thanks for your question. We did the ‘Journey to Freedom’ project, we got to see the elephants twice (for several hours) during the first 5 days outside the park (in the mountain village), and then again on both days we spent in the Park. I’d say we had lots of quality time with them, I was very happy. Have you looked at their website? You can find both projects there. I would recommend the Journey to Freedom project. Looked like we got to spend more (quality) time with the elephants than the people from the other project. Both projects are cool, though. There are also lots of totally cute (fat) cats and dogs at the park. So, if you love animals, you just can’t go wrong with either project.

  2. Hi Paul en Jessica,

    Ik lees dat jullie een fantastische tijd hebben gehad met de olifanten, geweldig!!!!

    Geniet van jullie reis!


  3. Hi! I’m thinking about taking the 1 week volunteer program at Elephant Nature Park. Can you please tell me what is the accommodation like in their facility? I am asking because I saw that you also spent 2 days on their site also. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Dana! Yes we did spent 2 days on their site, but we were very lucky and got to sleep in the private huts. They are super nice. Normally though, volunteers sleep in the big lodge. I heard that was OK too, so I would say DO IT! The park is amazing, so beautiful. If you love animals, cats and dogs, it’s perfect.

  4. I signed myself and my son up for the one week volunteer program. Can you tell me what the drinking water situation is? Was bottled water provided?

    • Hi Kimberly, cool that you’ve signed up! You get a water bottle that you can refill for free with good and safe drinking water. Enjoy your time with the elephants!!

  5. Hi there. I signed up for the journey to freedom project for January. How are the sanitary sites there? Western toilets and showers? And would you recommend to bring a own sleeping bag? Is there botteled water available? I am looking forward to the trip so much 🙂 Thank you

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