Elephant Sanctuary

If you love elephants and you want to view these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, there is no better place in the world.

Location: Mondulkiri, Cambodia
Availability: All Year Round
Price: Average $445 per week
2 – 12 weeks


Program Overview

About the Program

Our goal is to support the elephants, forest and the indigenous people of Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province and you can be a part of this. With only 70 elephants left in captivity in Cambodia, and 400-600 in the wild, it is critical to support this last remaining population of elephants in Cambodia!

Why this program?

If you truly love elephants and you want to view these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, respectfully, there is no better place in the world. You will spend your days relaxing in the forest watching the elephants interact with each other, explore their environment and exhibit natural behavior again. When you learn about their pasts and see their lives now, it touches the heart. It is truly beautiful and a life changing experience.

By choosing to book a placement with us, you help contribute towards the team on the ground to provide support to the elephants and people! We rehabilitate and care for sick and abused elephants, run a mobile vet unit for the community elephants outside of the sanctuary, protect the forests and provide vital jobs, healthcare and community assistance for the local indigenous population surrounding our sanctuary.

You will also be involved in many volunteering sessions as part of your placement at the sanctuary. You will have a direct impact by contributing to massive projects like: maintaining elephant food farms, replanting endangered trees into the local forest, restoring trails, assisting in research, checking and monitoring the elephant’s health, and so much more!

A practical metaphor; say you come out and lend a hand in our nursery planting endangered tree seeds, week after week other volunteers come through and nurture those seeds into saplings, in a few months more volunteers come through and re-pot and move the growing trees, and then within a year your little seed has now found a new home in the forest growing strong to keep the forests of Cambodia alive! You are a part of the big picture!

To really get immersed in the project, get to know the elephant families better and give something back, joining onto our elephant placement program is the perfect option. Our base program is 2 weeks long, giving you a real opportunity to get involved within the sanctuary. You can also add additional weeks and stay as long as you like. Your placement fees also are directly contributing to the care and welfare of the elephants, forest preservation and community programs.

What is included in this program?

  • 12 elephant experiences every 2 weeks (3-4km of hiking each time)
  • 12 volunteering sessions at the sanctuary every 2 weeks.
  • Weekday accommodation at the sanctuary
  • All meals while at the sanctuary (from dinner on Sunday to lunch on Friday each week)
  • Weekend accommodation in town – Weekends are spent back in town, where we include your accommodation, including the final Friday night of the program. Meals in town are at your own cost.
  • Transport from Sen Monorom township to the sanctuary and back.
  • Free laundry service while onsite
  • On Site Support Staff
  • Welcome Orientation
  • Contribution to the sanctuary towards the Elephant’s care and food

What will I be doing?

During your program you will also contribute by volunteering onsite, to really get involved in what it takes to run an elephant sanctuary! You will join local staff to help out on our farms to grow supplementary food for the elephants (e.g. bananas and bamboo), working in our reforestation project growing or planting endangered tree species depending on season or help out with small construction and maintenance projects like trails, elephant treatment area maintenance, building bridges – all so the santuary continues to develop as a facility for elephant care. We love to know in your application if you have any skills you think could help out on the program, e.g. building, plumbing, horticulture, vets etc, just let us know so we can try and plan projects where we can utilise your skills. All projects are dependent on the time of year e.g. rainy & dry season and the jobs that are required to be completed onsite that month.

For longer term volunteers, you have the opportunity to become a team leader where you support the new volunteer arrivals, assist leading volunteer sessions and visitor check ins, together with lots of elephant time.

The camp is constantly growing project by project, thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like YOU, the volunteers that have visited over the years. Projects in the past have included digging trenches, building water towers, construction of guesthouses, working on the banana, bamboo and pineapple farms, trails maintenance, reforestation, etc. etc.

Day 1 – Saturday / Airport pickup from Phnom Penh, 1 night accommodation in Phnom Penh (dinner/bed/breakfast), private transport to Mondulkiri with English speaking driver (with other volunteers arriving that week) including lunch stop on the way, transfer back to the city of Phnom Penh at the end of program (VIP minivan – public bus).
Day 2 – Sunday / Arrive in Mondulkiri province early afternoon and meet the team and other volunteers who will be joining you for your placement.
Day 3 – Monday / Introduction Day. Spend the first day just meeting the elephants and learning their stories, whilst also learning about the forest and the local community.
Day 4-6 Tuesday – Thursday / Days will now be split between spending time with the elephants in the forest learning more about them & also how to undertake a health assessment and check, together with getting invoice by helping with volunteer sessions on jobs needing to be done onsite.
Day 7 – Friday / A final elephant session for the week, as well as having the opportunity to join a hike out into the community forest for waterfalls and wildlife viewing to finish the week before heading back into the town of Sen Monorom at the end of the day
Day 8 – Saturday / Free time, relax, explore waterfalls or book a tour with a local guide
Day 9 – Sunday / Free time to relax and explore. At 3pm in the afternoon return back to the sanctuary site.
Day 10-13 Monday – Thursday / Personal volunteer projects intermingled with elephant health checks and time in the forest.
Day 14 – Friday / Final day onsite, one last visit to the elephants, spend the afternoon swimming in the waterfall (season dependant) and then pack up and head to town.
Day 15 – Saturday / Project Placement complete! Head back to Phnom Penh or continue exploring Mondulkiri province and more of Cambodia.
3 Weeks + / Continued volunteering and Elephant observing sessions throughout the weekdays. If you stay for four or more weeks – you will have the opportunity to become a team leader where you support the new volunteer arrivals, assist leading volunteer sessions and visitor check ins, together with lots more elephant time.

Who will I be working with?

Volunteers with the Elephant Refuge will spend their time with the mahouts (elephant handlers) and fellow international volunteers from around the world.

How do I get to the program?

You will stay on site at the volunteer base area of the elephant sanctuary during the weekdays, surrounded by lush foliage and amazing views. For weekends spent in town at Sen Monorom, we will arrange your transport there and back to the sanctuary to resume work for the week.

We can arrange an optional airport collection. See below for further details.

What do we expect from a volunteer?

In order to become an elephant volunteer with us you need to fulfill the following criteria:
• You must be in good physical and mental condition
• You must be able to tolerate hot and humid climate
• You must be able to speak English
• You must be 18 years old or over
• You must have a positive and practical attitude towards animal welfare and wildlife conservation

What can you expect from us?

Our Volunteer Coordinators are able to help whenever you need assistance. They can help with scheduling issues, animal issues, illness, emergencies back home, as well as personal support while you are away from home. Our coordinators can be very busy, but we have an open door policy so you can come and talk to us any time you need.

What should I bring?

We suggest; Lightweight work clothes you do not mind sweating in and getting dirty (shorts and t-shirts), Long sleeve top(s) and trousers to protect you from mosquito bites in the evenings, Sunhat, cap or bandana, Torch/flashlight, Alarm clock, Power adaptor, Your own towels (can be bought locally although choice is limited), Comfortable shoes or sandals (your feet will get wet no matter what time of year due to the nature of some of the work), Lightweight rainproof clothing, Ensure your mobile phone is unlocked if you wish to buy a Cambodia sim card, Simple first aid kit with plasters, bandages, antiseptics and various medications for gastric bug, Working gloves are recommended when harvesting food for the elephants, and essential when composting and High-factor sun-cream/sunglasses are recommended.

Typical working day

Days at the project begin at 7 AM with a delicious breakfast served by our kitchen staff in our group dining room overlooking the lush misty morning forest.

After breakfast, you will have time to assist with the daily tasks and running of the site before heading out into the forest. This ranges from cleaning the treatment centre and washing station ready for the elephants arrival, making the medicine balls that our elderly elephants require, to watering tree saplings and shoots in the nursery.

At around 8:30 AM we will either head out to visit the elephants in the forest or get into some volunteer work. The structure of the days can vary depending on staffing and other visitor numbers onsite.

A delicious buffet lunch is served daily allowing for a two hour rest to avoid the heat of the day and plenty of time to read or have a nap in a hammock. This is also your holiday so feel free to incorporate as much relaxation time as you like!

Following lunch we will either once again go out to see elephants or volunteer depending on the schedule up until 4-5 PM

After the day’s activities and a refreshing shower, the evening is yours to relax and unwind with a beverage or a book in our beautiful lounge watching the sunset.

Dinner is at 6 PM and is always a highlight with delicious local dishes more than enough for seconds or thirds. There are also beer / soda for sale.

Night time excitement is completely up to the visitors. We have plenty of games to play in our lounge, movies shown in our education centre or a fire pit to roast marshmallows and get to know everyone. But we find that after a day of hiking and working onsite, early nights are usually the popular option.

Tuck into your comfy bed, with an included mosquito net, as you snooze to the night sounds of the jungle.


What’s Included

Dates & Fees

Program fees

Starting from $1052 (2 Weeks)

Click here to view detailed program fees details


2 week minimum to 12 weeks maximum


This program is available all throughout the year.

Our volunteer programs start on a Sunday which means the departure day will also be the Sunday of the volunteer’s final week.

We usually suggest for volunteers to fly into Phonm Penh on the Saturday (day before project starts). If you would like to arrange the airport collection package, you will stay overnight with any other volunteers arriving that week and then travel to the sanctuary the next day.

“One of the best experiences of my life. I’m glad to experience this, I have met wonderful people and made real friendships. The Ghanaian people are so welcoming and share their culture with you, they are so open minded and free to work with.”

~ Jeremy F / Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer

 The trip was a unique experience for me! My expectations were exceeded by far and I am glad to have found the project. If you don’t mind getting up at night on patrols to find turtles and eggs, this project is great. In addition to working at school, on the farm and collecting and recycling plastic waste on the beach, this project is very versatile and never gets boring. I can only recommend this project!

– Lara S / Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer 


Apply Now

Submit your details below and a member of the team will be in touch to get you started with the application process.