Elephant Conservation - Volunteer Reviews

CAMBODIA

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Elephant Conservation project

Sonya – 2017

“The Elephant Conservation project does fantastic work for elephants, the environment and the local people of Cambodia. It was great to be a part of a successful project.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing elephants in a natural environment

What did you find most challenging?

I found the terrain where the program is situated difficult

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Need to be fit.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Booking programs with Pod gives me piece of mind that my trip has been organised correctly”.

Jill – 2017

“Volunteering at the Elephant Conservation Project in Cambodia I found was very rewarding and came away with a real sense of achievement and felt like I'd really made a difference.

The project is relaxed but run very efficiently by a great project team and they have a great ethos to ensure elephants and their natural habit are conserved. Whilst on the project the day was split in 2 sessions which was either seeing the elephants or volunteering around the site. This was a good mix and therefore not too strenuous, with time to relax in the evening. The project is in the jungle and supported by the local community, but this makes it a beautiful location and you get to see the real Cambodia. The accommodation was basic, but clean, the showers were cold, but refreshing in the heat. The food was lovely and cooked by a team of local ladies with their baby's strapped to them. Though you do need to like rice.....

There was a real mix of people on the project, different nationalities and the age range spanned from early twenties to late sixties. So lots of people to interact with.

What did you find most rewarding?

Most rewarding elements were spending time with the elephants and knowing that my hard work was making a direct impact on their or the volunteers lives. Also meeting other volunteers that are on the project and making lasting friendships

What did you find most challenging?

Most challenging aspect was the hard physical work in the heat, though the project coordinator does give plenty of breaks and if it all gets a bit too much, you can always duck out. Though it wasn't all hard work, as one day we made food balls to feed to undernourished elephants.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

If you are considering this project, I'd say get there before Cambodia gets more touristy and this project really needs your help and support. I was also concerned about the level of physical activity as I suffer with a weak back, but I didn't need to worry as there are always less strenuous activities that I could do.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

A friend initially recommended POD, and after looking at the website they offered a volunteering opportunity with a real ethical way of working and support before and during the project as necessary.”

Emma – 2017

“How’s life at the project?
Had the best week ever!!! Can't wait for my second week!! Enjoying every minute smile elephants are the best!!!!!

Volunteering in animal conservation is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is so much more than just travel, the fact that you are making a difference while seeing a different part of the world and culture is amazing. I will never forget my time with the elephants.

What did you find most rewarding?
Knowing that I was on something more than just a tour. By being there for such a long time I really got immersed in the place and could see the difference the volunteers make.

What did you find most challenging?
Living unplugged - not being able to go on the internet when I wanted, and not being able to go to a shop when I pleased and buy what I wanted whenever.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Don't come with too many expectations - take it all as the positive experience that it is.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes! It seemed like one of the better ones when compared on the internet.”

Carly – 2016

“This placement far out lived all of my expectations and I would highly recommend it. I wanted to get close to and understand elephants in an ethical way without encroaching on their natural lifestyle and the Elephant Conservation project is the place to do that.

I spent a week getting my hands dirty with hard manual labour as well as trekking in the jungle to learn about the elephants at the project. It was a perfect combinations for me. Evenings were spent relaxing in a tranquil surrounding with beautiful food cooked by the local mountain people and a comfy bed to collapse into.

I can’t wait to get back and do it all again as soon as I can!

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing large projects i.e building bridges or resurfacing roads progress quickly when we had a big group to get stuck in!

What did you find most challenging?
Knowing when to stop! It is hot and dusty and the work can be challenging if you choose it to be. There are options to sit out tasks if needed, I just got to wrapped up in the results to take those options!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do it as soon as you can!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes! Google search and great service when I called to enquire.”

Nick – 2016

“This trip is fascinating and rewarding - I would happily go again - but it is not always easy. The bedrooms are basic, and it can be difficult to sleep with squirrels practising their tango dances on the roof. The showers are cold. The days are hot, some of the work is quite tough, the hikes into the jungle can be hard.

But what really makes it all worthwhile is the elephants - being able to stand quite close and simply watch them going about their lives, getting to know each animal's previous history (sometimes involving upsetting brutality), learning a lot about their behaviour and about techniques for judging their health.

It's not a 'holiday' as most people imagine it; it's a special experience.

What did you find most rewarding?
There were times when the jungle was genuinely beautiful, bursting with life.

What did you find most challenging?
Some of the hikes into the jungle were long and hot and hard, with tough uphill climbs. That's fine. This is the jungle, not a suburban high street, but the truth is that it was tiring.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared for this to be physically quite hard.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes! Via Responsible Travel”

Laura-Jo – 2016

“I had the most amazing time in Thailand and Cambodia, it was truly a life changing experience!

What did you find most rewarding?
The whole experience!

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part about this project was the conservation aspect of it. Having to lug trees up steep hills in sweaty humidity was possibly the hardest thing I've done, yet it taught discipline and how much of a reward it gave me outweighed the challenge!!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to get muddy!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes! Have been with them in the past and are extremely reliable and genuinely nice staff”

Carly – 2016

“My experience at this elephant sanctuary has been, so far, pretty life-changing! Elephants are such beautiful and majestic creatures, and I have so much respect for the team here.

The project strives to provide a natural and peaceful life to elephants that have often suffered at the hands of people. I was happy to feel like I was contributing - even in a small way. Simply being in their presence fills you with awe; elephants are amazing creatures!

What did you find most rewarding?
Planting/tending to plants. We were growing food for the elephants but also combatting the illegal logging going on in the rainforest.

What did you find most challenging?
Getting used to all the bugs.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Expect to work hard! It's not a holiday.
Bring lots of mosquito repellent.
Don't bring any nice clothes.
Bring wellies : they'll stop most of the mud from getting on your trousers, and they'll stop bugs biting your ankles.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes. It was recommended by The Guardian”

Nicolas – 2016

“Very good experience. Had a great time with elephants and happy to see that they are in a great environment for them!

What did you find most rewarding?
Glad to see that our funds are used in a great way.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging is to dedicated some days of our lifes to help elephants. It makes it then very impressive to consider the volonteer working on a long term for this project.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
I wanted to try a volonteer program and POD seemed and is very serious.”

Kaitlyn – 2016

“Volunteering at the Elephant Conservation Project in Cambodia was nothing short of amazing. The staff were all friendly and welcoming. The food was excellent and if anyone had any dietary restrictions the cooks were extremely accommodating. It was great to be able to learn the histories of all of the elephants as well as actively work to make their lives better.

Volunteering consisted of clearing fields, harvesting bamboo, adding stones to roads, fixing handrails, planting trees, and more. It was extremely hard work, but it was well worth it. The hikes in the forest to go see the elephants were definitely challenging, so I wouldn't recommend the project if your fitness levels are very low.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of my experience was to see Darling, one of the elephants at the sanctuary taking a bath all on her own. With most of the elephants, their mahouts had to get into the water to help them bathe, but Darling was extremely independent.

What did you find most challenging?
Working hard in the hot sun every day was definitely tiring. Make sure you drink lots of water throughout the day. The hikes were difficult but not impossible.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Make sure you bring good walking shoes and a big water bottle. Also, be aware that there are large spiders and geckos in the bedrooms, but they are harmless. I found bringing a pack of baby wipes to be helpful, as sometimes you wanted to wipe down and clean yourself without taking a shower.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes. I chose Pod Volunteer because after researching many programs, Pod seemed the most ethical and socially conscious.”

Gay & Vyvyan – 2016

“The Elephant Project in Cambodia is an exemplary example of responsible tourism. We loved the setting and the people we met, as well as the staff who really were fantastic.

As an older couple (70's) there is a need to be physically very fit as the work involved is demanding and the distances walked are strenuous.

What did you find most rewarding?
Contact with the elephants, watching their behaviour and meeting the local Bunong tribe. The local Bunong cuisine was excellent.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
It is a wonderful experience but you need to be feisty

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes! Found on internet whilst looking for elephant projects in Asia”

Annette – 2015

“Fantastic set up to help elephants get back to full health, rest and rehabilitate whilst at same time providing employment and empowering the local community. Worth while project. Lovely to see each elephant's personality come to the fore and for them to be enjoying their new lives away from ill treatment in tourist and logging industries. Rescuing these animals and providing a safe haven for them also ensures biodiversity in area maintained and land not sold to foreign investors”

Houlu – 2015

“I spent a week there and it was one of the best things I did in 3-months in Asia. The staff were amazing, caring and attentive, going out of their way to make sure you learned as much as possible, while having a great time. The elephants were, of course, amazing, and it was heart-warming to spend time observing them in their natural environment, just being eles, wild and free. It gave me a new appreciation for conservation and animal care. A truly life-affirming, if not life-changing, experience. We were especially fortunate to have the founder show us around the grounds on the first day, and you could see the passion of this man.

This is a true eco-experience, you know that your money is going to make a difference to the lives of elephants and the local people of Sen Monorom. Don't think about it - just book it. You'll get a unique appreciation for Cambodia, that those who only rush from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap miss.”

Jennifer – 2015

“Spent two weeks there earlier this year and had the best time of my life. I was apprehensive that I may be disappointed but it was everything I could have a hoped it would be. This is not least down to the lovely staff that work there who could not have been nicer, the elephants are just as wonderful as you would expect them to be! Wonderful to have the opportunity to learn about what the project does and a be able to contribute to such a deserving cause.

Camp is great fun, being fully immersed in use forest without electricity or hot water, hearing the noises at night, doing physical work and chilling out with the elephants really gives you the opportunity to get away from real life. Oh and the girls in huge kitchen make delicious food! Spring roll night was a highlight smile

Thanks to everyone, could not recommend more”

Emill – 2015

"I spent three weeks at the project in Cambodia and loved every minute of it!

The local and western staff are incredibly welcoming and the accommodation was a lot better than I was expecting, especially as its in the middle of a jungle! The meals provided by the lovely cooking staff were nutritous and catered to vegan and vegetarianism. Pancakes for breakfast, what more do you want?!

Having spent three weeks at the project, I became more involved with the elephants than those spending only a few days. I felt like I knew the elephants more and they felt a lot more comfortable with me allowing me to get closer to them.

The whole ethos is great! The way the community and villagers benefit from the elephants spending time at the camp is amazing. You can really see where your donation goes and that without visitors places like this would not exist and the elephants staying there would not benefit from the special care and attention provided by them at the project. it is all about the elephants but so much more at the same time!

I would highly recommend it. It is so worthwhile, spending time with such incredible creatures, understanding their different backstories shows each of them as an indiviudals and highlights the struggle of Asian elephants survival.

An incredible organisation and a must visit if in Cambodia! Remember to bring sturdy walking shoes and lots of water!”

John – 2015

“Was really nice to see the elephants in their natural environment after spending their previous years logging or taking tourists around. The guides were friendly and informative. The food was super nice (being a vegan was no problem). Bungalow was cool with great view of forest. Was a nice blend of volunteering and being around the elephants.”

Steph – 2015

“This is an amazing organisation that not only aims to protect elephants in the wild but also cares for older elephants saved from working on the streets or other forms of mistreatment from humens. The park also helps local families with sick or injured elephants who need somewhere safe for a few weeks to recover.

This project supports the local community by employing local people to work at the project in various roles and also helps to pay for medical expenses of locals who would otherwise sell their land (that the elephants need) to developers/farmers to get money to pay for their medical bills.

We got up close and personal to the elephants, did health checks on them and just got to sit back relax and watch them in their natural habitat behaviouing as elephants should.

We absolutley loved living in the jungle and the khmer food was delicious. Cant wait to return here one day.”

Georgie – 2015

“I went here for two weeks on my gap year and it was an incredible experience. Getting up so close to the elephants was breathtaking and all who work there are amazing. All are so passionate about elephants and the project and work with the local people.

The base camp is set in a peaceful place on the mountain. Be prepared to walk a lot and my fitness defiantly improved a great deal being there.

The food is delicious and everyone is very friendly and are involved with a rewarding inspiring project. I'd recommend this to anyone.”

Kimberly – 2015

“One of the best experiences of my life. It taught me so many things about elephants and Cambodia that I did not know before hand. The way the elephants are treated was incredible and a beautiful experience to be a part of. Seeing them in their own habitat living how they are supposed to was eye opening and special. The staff were so helpful and friendly. Would recommend visiting this place to anyone.”

Lorby – 2014

“I probably will not have the words to do justice to this amazing project. I visited for three weeks at the end of the rainy season. The funding for my post had ended and I'd hit 60... so decided to do something out of my Comfort Zone.

I had only ever travelled in Europe or the USA, so this was a big one for me, and I was a little anxious. I needn't have been. The organisation was superb, plenty of information about what you would need to take with you, collected on arrival at the airport and taken to the hotel and then on to the project the following day.

The project staff were great and so committed, not just to the elephants, but the local Bunong people and their culture. The experience of being around these magnificent animals was a great privilege and very moving when you hear their stories. To walk through the forest with them and watch them bathe, and even help at times, was unforgettable. I kept feeling as though I was in a wildlife documentary and was waiting for David Attenborough's voice to cut in over the sounds of the forest.

Part of the day is spent working around the site, maintaining the planting or cutting banana trees for the elephants.. building compost bins and any number of other jobs that need doing. You need to have a reasonable level of fitness, especially for the walks as the forest is in quite a steep valley. It was an unforgettable experience which I have every intention of repeating at some point and would and recommend it to anyone who is interested in elephants, but also the sustainability of projects and surrounding communities.”

Anon – 2014

“I travelled to Sen Monoram with a volunteer group. We were to spend a week volunteering with the organization and the ellies. I did not expect the experience that I had the pleasure of enjoying. You get to spend tons of one-on-one time with the ellies, led by experienced guides as well as the owners of the elephants, the mahouts. You learn so much about elephant labour issues and really opens up your eyes to things you would not have even considered before. The funds which were contributed to the project go towards sustaining food sources for the ellies as well as paying for health care and other emergencies of local communities. You are treated like family from the moment you meet Gemma and the other staff. You are served a traditional Khmer lunch and enjoy a relaxing lunch period at the basecamp, equipped with plenty of fresh water and hammocks. During my visit I was able to transplant banana trees, help clear and create a jackfruit garden, help with feedings, see ellie doctor and dentist check ups, and even scrubbed down one of the ellies for bath time. Spending the week really opens your eyes to ellie welfare and make a you better, more conscious person regarding the ground work and contributions that organizations like this are providing to not only the ellies but to the local communities as well. Just make sure to dress appropriately because keeping with the Ellies in the mountains is not an easy job.”

Find out more about the Elephant Conservation project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal