Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary FAQs
Cambodia has four seasons. 1. November to February, cool and dry. 2. March to May, hot and dry. 3. June to August, hot and wet. 4. September to October, cool and wet. The hot season rarely reaches above 35C and the cool season may go as low as 20C. The monsoon rains follow a regular pattern of 1 to 3 hours of rain in the afternoon making them easy to plan around. Dry season can be dusty and in the wet season the countryside becomes spectacularly green. Mondulkiri has a cooler climate than the rest of Cambodia. For more information on when to visit Cambodia please see When is the best time of year to volunteer in Cambodia blog?
Yes, in fact we actively encourage it! Cambodia is a beautiful country and we wish you to experience its culture, history and people. The local staff will give advice and help arrange trips for you. You will have the weekends away from the project.
The Elephant Project began as an initiative to improve the health and well being of Mondulkiri's captive elephant population. This meant visiting surrounding villages to document and assess elephants, as well as to encourage owners to rest and retire sick elephants. After two years on the road, the project has realized that very few working elephants are healthy. Riding elephants is not something the sanctuary supports nor offers. Popular across much of Asia, riding elephants is a relatively easy way for an elephant owner (don’t forget that an elephant is an expensive creature to care for and their owners have to find a means to pay for this) to earn an income. Done correctly, for example bareback without the big basket, it does not harm the elephant. Done incorrectly, it can be one of the worst methods of working an elephant, which unfortunately is the case for most elephants working this way at the moment. An elephant sanctuary however is a place where an elephant gets the chance to live a more natural existence and there is no place for such an activity. Needless to say it is also better for the elephant as they can freely dust or throw mud on themselves. Morally speaking, it is also odd to think that it is ‘OK’ to ride an elephant that is so rare and not acceptable to ride another animal of equivalent endangered status such as a panda, tiger, giraffe or hippo. Activities such as riding go hand in hand with painting, dancing, and any other sort of exploitative practice that keep elephants in detrimental living and working conditions. At the Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary the only people you may see riding an elephant would be that elephants highly trained professional mahout. These individuals have a deep relationship with each elephant and have gained that respect level. This is not detrimental to the elephant and is only done in situations of function or safety.
You will be volunteering for approximately 4 - 6 hours per day, 5 days per week. We can be flexible with your time as required. This is a very varied project with lots to be done so self motivated volunteers can be kept busy.
You need to be able to speak English as this will be the common language at the project. English does not need to be your first language but you will need to be proficient in English to be able to understand instructions on how to care for the elephants.
This project attracts volunteers looking for an experience in pristine wilderness whilst still contributing to elephant welfare and forest conservation. The majority of volunteers are from the UK, United States, Canada and Australia. We also place volunteers from Holland, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand although all nationalities are welcome. The majority of volunteers travel alone to the projects, although we also accommodate couples and groups. The project averages 5-14 volunteers at any one time of all ages and nationalities.
Yes of course, here is a sample of stories from our volunteer blogs.
The project location is deep in the jungle and therefore has no internet or phone reception. There is limited phone signal on top of a hill at the car station (800m up the hill) - so get ready to switch off! The local town where volunteers stay on weekends has internet access and most guesthouse and cafes have WiFi.
Yes of course, in fact we have a page all about how you can fund raise for your trip here.
Volunteers can choose between a private bunglaow or shared dorms. The individual lodges are constructed in the traditional Bunong style with high quality western interiors, including toilet and solar heated shower. Each lodge contains a large double bed with mosquito net provided, seating, mirror and bedside tables. The lodges are located on the slopes of the elephant valley affording stunning views over the surrounding forest where many varieties of birds can be seen from eagles to hornbills. Volunteers who want a cheaper option can choose shared dormitory accommodation on their application form. The main project buildings are made from mostly recycled and salvaged materials. Sunset can be spent unwinding in the open air lounge, enjoying the amazing sounds of the nocturnal forest creatures and the gibbons calling as they prepare to sleep.
Three meals per day are provided for this project. Vegans can be accommodated and the variety and quality of food will suit all tastes. Volunteers dine in the main complex overlooking the elephant valley. Sunset can be spent unwinding in the lounge enjoying the amazing sounds of the forest. All main meals are included, except at weekends when volunteers are staying in the local town.
Of course, but we request that you use common sense. If you want soft drinks and beer you can purchase these from the kitchen on-site. Otherwise, if you want anything specific during the week you can purchase this in town before you depart for the jungle.
The currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel although US dollars are widely used. In Cambodia you will use a mixture of US dollars and Cambodian Riel. ATMs are available in Sen Monoron for all major credit cards. US dollars have to be in good condition to use in Cambodia, no ripped notes!
Mondulkiri is a very safe and friendly province but, as always when traveling you must take the usual precautions to make sure you stay safe. Common sense and knowledge is the key phrase, and on arrival you will have an orientation meeting to advise you of any precautions you need to take. Visitors to the area should be aware that UXOs exist in Mondulkiri. It is believed that the area will never be fully cleared in the same way as UXOs are still being found in Europe from the 1940's. There are virtually no land mines in this area of Cambodia. Most visits to Cambodia are completely trouble free. For more information, visit our International Travel Advice Page
We recommend that you let your health professional know that you will be volunteering in remote Cambodia and discuss the various vaccination options. For more information, visit our International Travel Advice Page
Volunteer at the Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary are require to have travel insurance. Finding the right insurance to cover your travels can be daunting, confusing and time-consuming, however – travel insurance is a must. You never know what could happen, and if you are unlucky enough to get ill or find yourself in a sticky situation, being uninsured can be really expensive and downright dangerous. This is why we strongly recommend that all our volunteers take out suitable travel insurance. We also recommend that your purchase your insurance and soon as you book your trip to cover you for all up-front costs in the event of cancellation due to any unforeseen circumstances. Globalteer has formed a partnership with a leading travel insurance provider to help you through this process.
Yes, Cambodia is a conservative country and we ask that you respect them by dressing accordingly. The basic rule is to cover your knees and shoulders. T-shirts, sandals and anything that covers the knees are all acceptable. Do not wear short shorts, crop-tops or display visible cleavage so to be respectful to the local staff. Volunteers should also wear appropriate jungle trekking attire and appropriate footwear (boots or runners)! Flip flops are not appropriate for hiking through the jungle!
Cambodians are very friendly and a smile will go a long way. Be respectful to elders. Shouting, or public displays of over emotion are impolite. Remove shoes before entering a temple or someone's home. Dress respectfully, especially when visiting temples. Do not point at someone with your finger or naked foot, do not touch peoples heads. For women, it is forbidden to touch a monk or even brush past his clothes. A woman may not directly pass anything to a monk, she must place it on a table for him to pick up.
No, you will be given guidance and training and will work with experienced staff.
Yes, on arrival you will receive orientation from our project coordinator, giving local information, advice and what your weekly schedule will entail. This will also include a safety briefing before visiting the elephants to ensure safety when working close to the elephants.
Volunteers can get themselves to the project location in Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri province or Globalteer can organise your transfer from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.
Globalteer is fully committed to ensuring that your volunteer placement is responsible. More information can be found on our Responsible Volunteering Page.
As a UK registered Charity, Globalteer is financially transparent, our accounts are independently audited and posted online. You can read a full report on where your money goes here.
We understand what motivates volunteers and what makes a memorable volunteer experience. We have been placing volunteers at our projects since 2006 and have built up a wealth of knowledge in those years about what makes volunteering rewarding for volunteers as well as impactful for the fantastic projects we work with. You can read here why we think you should choose Globalteer.
You can read more about this project on our blogs page.