Just completed 3 days of volunteering at PES and I'm missing the place like crazy already.
The sanctuary gives a home to elephants that have worked in tourism - circus, trekking - or logging and are sold as they are too sick or injured to carry on.
A couple are blind, some have leg problems and all have a history worth finding out about.
The volunteering gave me the opportunity to see behind the scenes and I can honestly say, everything is what they advertise themselves to be on the outside, with the elephants best interests at the heart of it. I got to know several of the staff and they are all passionate about their work.
The volunteering activity was a mixture of 5 star eco tourism and hard work. The daily schedule went something like this;
08:30 pickup and drop off at PES followed by breakfast
10-12:00 morning work
12-14:00 lunch and relaxation
14-16:00 afternoon work
16-17:30 dinner and relaxation
17:30 drop off at accommodation
Morning on first day is taking part in the tour. Other times, work included elephant food prep and feeding, cleaning elephant enclosure, cutting long grass/banana tree in jungle for elephant food and painting enclosures. Physical ability of volunteers varied and people worked as hard as they wanted to.
The accommodation is close to the office and has double bed, fridge, toilet/shower and wi-fi.
We had a group of 6 volunteers who socialised in the evening. Ages ranged from 25-60, men and women from US, France and U.K.
Also, some Thai staff were happy to meet up in the evening and could advise and assist with local activities e.g. Local gym (I didn't have the energy) or local beach walk.
I loved the time I had to observe and feed the elephants without the queues or people. I loved the ethos of the whole place. I loved the energy of the area.
If you are even slightly tempted to do this, book now, do it, I promise you will not regret it.
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