program Volunteer Cambodia: Village Immersion Program
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Cambodian and Thailand elephant sanctuary volunteering

The Elephant Experience

A wonderful program for Elephant lovers! Travelling from Cambodia into Thailand across the ancient homeland of the Kuy people who for centuries have tamed and worked with elephants.

Today logging with elephants is banned as is street begging and we are working to find new ways for these people to build ethical and sustainable ways to keep their much loved elephants alive and happy. You will land in the city of Siem Reap and travel to the Cambodian elephant sanctuary.

Here you will wake to the magnificent sound of elephants trumpeting in the morning. You walk and bathe them, harvest their food, prepare it and feed them. You will also have the chance to do volunteer work with the local anti-logging patrol and the temple monks. The monks will bless orange cloth for you to tie around the trees. The cloth is sacred and the loggers are reluctant to cut trees that have been blessed by the monks. There are other animals such as monkeys, gibbons, and homeless dogs that you will also be caring for. In the afternoon you can relax in the hammocks or play volleyball with the locals living on the sanctuary.


On the Friday you will return to Siem Reap. There is so much to do and see here including great restaurants, acrobat shows, Aspara dancing and the chance to discover the joy of Cambodian “happy” pants in the vibrant city markets. Of course, you cannot come to Cambodia and not see Angkor Wat and over the weekend you will have a chance to explore the ancient complex of temples and you may even be blessed by a Cambodian monk.

On Monday we head off to cross the border into Thailand and travel to a new project established with the local villagers who want to build a sustainable and ethical home for their elephants. We walk and feed the elephants, take them to the local dams to swim and study the powerful bonds of their maternal family structures which include multiple generations. We work with the local monks and we will also be involved in infrastructure projects at the new site. This is a ground breaking project that will set the model for other villagers in the post logging post street begging environment for elephants. Be a part of it!

Arrival Day Departure Day Status
03-Dec-17 16-Dec-17 Vacancies
31-Dec-17 13-Jan-18 FULL
14-Jan-18 27-Jan-18 Vacancies
13-May-18 26-May-18 Vacancies
27-May-18 09-Jun-18 Vacancies
10-Jun-18 23-Jun-18 Vacancies
24-Jun-18 07-Jul-18 Vacancies
08-Jul-18 21-Jul-18 Vacancies
22-Jul-18 04-Aug-18 FULL

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Sunday - Arrival Day

Your team leader will be waiting for you outside the arrivals area of Siem Reap airport. They will be holding an ROV sign and wearing an ROV shirt, so you can’t miss them! If you get in before noon, enjoy a guided walking tour around Siem Reap. Once you are settled into your accommodation, you will have free time.

Optional activities in Siem Reap:

  • Explore the several markets around the city.
  • Relax by the pool.
  • See the pagodas and temples.
  • Enjoy a foot or back massage for as cheap as $5!
  • Experience the excitement of Pub Street.
  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 2: Monday - Transport to Cambodian Elephant Sanctuary

After breakfast, the volunteers will be transported to the elephant sanctuary - approximately a 2.5-hour trip.

Once we arrive, enjoy a tour of the elephant sanctuary and get settled in your bungalows.

Before dinner, volunteers will prepare food for and feed the elephants.

In the evening, volunteers have free time.

Optional activities include:

  • Play cards.
  • Play games.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Read a book.
  • Your team leader will arrange large group activities for everyone to enjoy at night.
  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Bungalow.

Days 3-5: Tuesday to Thursday - Project Work at the Sanctuary

You will participate in several projects including planting trees and food for the animals and people living on the sanctuary, weeding the fields, cutting sugar cane, building a firebreak, constructing houses for the rangers and building dams to create baths for the elephants. Elephants are not the only animals at the sanctuary, you will also prepare food for the monkeys and gibbons that have been rescued too!

Your team leader will arrange for your group to visit a local school on one of these days to work alongside the local teachers and play with the children.

Every evening, the volunteers will prepare and feed the elephants dinner.

After the volunteers eat dinner, there will be a short documentary shown either about the sanctuary or the plight of these elephants rescued from the illegal logging industry.

Volunteers have free time after the documentary.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Bungalow.

Day 6: Friday - The weekend in Siem Reap

Volunteers will complete their project work in the morning. After a final feeding and time to say goodbye to the elephants, the volunteers will be transported back to Siem Reap.

The remainder of the day is a free day to enjoy exploring Siem Reap.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 7: Saturday - Visit the Reach Out Community School

After a nice sleep in volunteers will visit the Reach Out Community School, which is fund by Reach Out Volunteers Charity (a 501(c)3 in USA and a Gift Deductible Charity in Australia). Here you will see the difference volunteers have made on the Village building projects. After visiting a walking tour of Siem Reap, where you will see how to traditional Cambodia trinkets are made. For those more adventurous, you can choose the optional activity:

  • Kulan Mountain – Here you will swim under a massive waterfall in the middle of the Cambodian jungle, see the sleeping Buddha statue and the giant Buddha footprint.

In the evening you will experience a traditional Cambodian Circus, where you will be amazed by the performers and will even get the opportunity to go on stage and meet the performers.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 8: Sunday - Angkor Wat Day!

All volunteers will have a guided tour of Angkor Wat, beginning at sunrise.

After the tour, volunteers will have free time. Many choose to rest by the pool after a long day of exploring the temples!

Volunteers who choose to purchase the Tonle Sap Add-On will visit the floating villages for sunset after the Angkor Wat tour.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Hotel.

Days 10: Monday - Transport to Elephant Sanctuary

After breakfast, the volunteers will be transported to the Thailand elephant sanctuary. This will include a border crossing. It is a free to cross the Border into Thailand for many nationalities including passport holders from Australia, Canadia, USA, The UK and New Zealander. You will arrive at approximately 5pm and lunch will be provide enroute.

Once we arrive at the sanctuary, volunteers will meet the host families they will be staying with for the week.There will be 2-4 volunteers per host family.

In the evening, you will be welcomed into the community through a welcoming ceremony before having dinner.

  • For more information on visas, click the visa tab.

Optional activities include:

  • Play cards.
  • Play games.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Read a book.
  • Your team leader will arrange large group activities for everyone to enjoy at night.
  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Host Family.

Days 11-12: Tuesday-Thursday - Project Work at the Sanctuary

Today you get to meet all the elephants! We currently work with 18 different eephants including 3 baby elephants. We are working with this community to show that there is an alternative to the elephant riding industry. Volunteers will have the opportunity to walk the elephants to the lake and bathe with the elephants, plant and cut sugar cane for the elephants and will learn about each elephant. In the evening you will learn about the Thai culture, experience cooking classes, Thai language classes, visiting the local farmers market, and have the opportunity to be blessed by the local monks.

Your team leader will also arrange for your group to visit a local school on one of these days to work alongside the local teachers and play with the children.

Depending on the weather, your team leader may also take you to the lake, where you can reax one afternoon on a houseboat, watching the sun set over the water.

After the volunteers eat dinner, there will be a short documentary shown either about the sanctuary or the plight of these elephants rescued from the illegal logging industry.

Volunteers have free time after the documentary.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Host Family.

Day 13: Friday - Final Day at the Sanctuary

Volunteers will wake up early to experience a sunrise with the elephants trummpetting their morning greetings to one another. After saying our goobyes to the elephants, we will make our way back across the Border into Cambodia. We will arive in Siem Reap that evening to have our last dinner as a group.

The remainder of the day is free to enjoy exploring Siem Reap.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 14: Saturday - Departure Day

You will be dropped off at the airport with ample time before your flight. Please be ready and waiting in the lobby with your luggage at the time allocated by your team leader.

  • Meals Included: Breakfast and lunch.

What’s Included:

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
  • All drinking water.
  • All accommodation.
  • All on ground transport.
  • All program activities unless specified as optional.
  • Building project materials.

Accommodation:

Week one: You will be staying at a hotel in the center of Siem Reap city, which is close to restaurants, markets and shops. Volunteers will be separated in rooms by gender, in twin or triple share rooms. All linen, pillows, towels provided. Rooms have own private bathrooms, and doors with locks. Hotel comes with unlimited drinking water and snacks. Venue also has 24 hour security and wifi availability.

Week two: Clean accommodation in the home of the village leader on site at the Elephant Sanctuary. Volunteers share accommodation separated by gender. There is air-conditioning and protection from mosquitoes.

No extensions are currently available for this program.

 

 

Arrival and Departure

Arrival Airport: Siem Reap International Airport (REP), Cambodia
Departure Airport: Siem Reap International Airport (REP), Cambodia

Arrival Day: Is the first day of your program
Departure Day: is the final day of your program.

Airport Collection Times: 8am -12am (Midnight) on arrival & departure day.

  • Generally all our programs start on Sunday and finish on Saturday.
  • If you are doing an extension after the program please check the relevant Arrival & Departure tab on the program page to confirm your departure airport. If you are unsure email us at admin@rovolunteers.com to confirm.
  • If your flight is delayed and you are landing after the arrival date we can still collect you but a private collection fee will apply.
  • If you have purchased an extra day before or after your program a private collection will be arranged for you. This is included in the fee for the extra day.
  • If you are arriving early or departing late and have not organised an extra day on program with us you will be responsible for your own transfer & accommodation.

 

 

Insurance

Travel insurance is strongly recommended. It is recommended to purchase travel insurance as soon as you've been accepted for your program or at least by the time you pay your Progress Payment or book your flights. When you volunteer abroad it is important to ensure that your policy includes emergency medical evacuation as well as program and flight cancellation. The World Nomads policy available below is one of the few policies that covers volunteering activities.

We suggest that you check the policy you intend to purchase and make sure it has at least the following benefits;

  • Overseas medical costs
  • Emergency medical transport and repatriation
  • Cancellation costs
  • Trip interruption costs

Visas

The information below was correct at the time of writing, however visa requirements can change overnight. You must ensure that the details below are still relevant to your situation as it is ultimately your responsibility to organize a visa for your program.

A Cambodian Tourist Visa is required for everyone when entering Cambodia. The Visa is approximately $40USD and can be purchased by US, Canadian, UK, Australian and NZ citizens when you land. There are some restrictions on other nationalities, so please confirm information with the embassy / consulate of the country you will be visiting prior to departure.

If you need to arrange a tourist visa prior to travelling, we can assist you with documentation. Please send our admin team an email at admin@rovolunteers.com.

Organising your Tourist Visa into Cambodia is a really simple process, and you will need the following:

  • Current passport
  • Extra passport photo (doesn’t need to be the same as in your passport) – they can also take one there if you forget for a couple of dollars USD
  • Approximately $40USD
  • Completed visa form – you do this on arrival, or are sometimes given this on the flight dependant on airline

You then take the above to the visa counter for processing which generally takes ten minutes. They will then give you back your passport with the tourist visa in it, and you then collect your bags, clear customs, and make your way to meet your Team Leader.

  • VISA for Thailand – Australian, Canadian, US and NZ citizens do not pay a fee to enter Thailand. Other nationalities will need to check the specific requirements with their own government. If there is an additional visa fee you will responsible for paying this.
  • When returning from Thailand to Cambodia we will pay the cost of the Cambodian re-entry visa, however you will need to have with you another passport photo to enable the new Cambodian visa to be issued.

Before you go…

Check:
  • If you are arriving early - you have purchased an extra night add on and sent an email to admin@rovolunteers.com to confirm, otherwise we will assume you are making your own way to the accommodation on the first day of the program.
  • If you have any long layovers, you may wish to do some research on the airport, check out the following site: http://www.sleepinginairports.net
Pack:
  • We recommend bringing a wifi enabled device in case of delays or issues so you can send and receive email. Also, carry a charging cable and a mini-power pack to recharge the device. (If you are delayed you may spend a lot of time on the phone to insurers and loved ones).
  • Put any medicines and valuables in your carry on luggage so you still have them if your luggage is delayed/lost in transit.
  • Don't forget to bring some warm clothes, toiletries and entertainment in your carry on luggage!
  • Make sure you have appropriate clothing for the climate you are arriving into - look through the get ready information, and also check some weather reports before you leave.
  • If you want to, bring along some donations for the community you will be visiting
  • For some travel packing tips, check out: http://www.marieclaire.com/travel/a17001/packing-tips-tricks-travel
Day of departure:
Arrival…
  • If you are arriving on the first day of program, a team leader wearing a ROV T-Shirt will be waiting at the airport from 8am - Midnight.
  • If you are arriving a day early, the team leader will pick you up at the time specified on your ROV program.
  • If you are delayed and unable to contact us, you should make your way to the accommodation listed in your pre departure email.

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The 14 day Cambodian and Thailand Elephant volunteer program