Jungle Elephant Care
Mae Chaem

Jungle Elephant Care

Mae Chaem Thailand

Trunk is very proud to be a huge advocate of supporting captive elephants in Asia. Having an 11 year history of working alongside communities and Mahout’s that have dedicated their lives to supporting the welfare of these incredible giants, the team at Trunk know a thing or two about what it takes to ensure that elephants no longer living wild have an enriched lifestyle that offers safety, healthcare, love and that all elephants are treated with the respect they deserve.
The following project would not be possible without volunteers willing to give up their time to benefit the daily life of these amazing animals, contributing both time and much needed funds. We can assure you that if you join this project not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, you will also see from day one how your volunteer funds are used and how much of a difference they make to the project, the elephants and the local communities.

​From the moment you arrive, you will become a very valuable member of the team by observing our elephants in their natural habitat, collecting essential data and immersing yourself in to the community and teaching projects, you will be kept very busy.

​The elephants supported by this project are some of the very few lucky elephants who get to roam in the forest as freely as possible. Due to declining natural habitat and tourist demands, many elephants are forced into unnatural behaviours and are not treated with the right love and care. Our elephants always come first and we do everything in our power to create a life for them that’s as natural as possible.

​To observe the elephants we will hike out to their location so being a little bit fit is helpful, however you certainly don’t need to be an olympic athlete!. Due to the extreme weather here in Thailand these hikes can be unpredictable and different everyday, depending on where our elephants choose to spend their time. Basically, we do the hard work here so the elephants don’t have to!

Please also be aware that as stated, we want our elephants to have as natural a life as possible with little human influence. You will get the chance to feed fruit or carry out health checks, which is a great opportunity to take a few photos with the elephants, but most of the time will be spent observing their beauty and natural behaviours, a much more rewarding experience, we can promise you!

What should you expect?

Below is an example of how your week will look. Please let us know if you have any questions about anything at all.


Arrive in to Chiang Mai international airport any time on any Saturday and one of our team will be there to give you an official welcome and to transfer you to our city centre hotel. For those who arrive early enough, we’ll arrange a traditional northern Thailand welcome dinner.

Our team will also go through with you the plan for your time here in Chiang Mai, update you on the project and help to ensure that you have all of the information that you need to be able to relax and make the most of your time at the project.


After breakfast one of our team will transfer you to your project pick-up point in the city. You will be starting your journey to the village at 9am and it’s likely that other members of the team will be joining you on the journey.

The truck or ‘song-thaew’ will stop off along the way to buy bananas for our elephants and there will also be a stop off lunch and to freshen up in the delightful village of Mae Chaem. Once we arrive at the village, you will be introduced to your homestay, cook dinner with them, receive a tour, learn more about the project and meet the rest of the team.


This morning everyone will meet for breakfast at our base hut before 7:30am and our hike to the elephants will begin at 8am. When we reach the elephants there’ll be the opportunity to feed them bananas and to take photos! We’ll spend the rest of the morning/early afternoon in the forest with the elephants observing them, learning about their natural behaviours and having lunch. After the hike, you’ll be taught more about captive elephants and their plight, learn about our research and have a lesson on the local language before having dinner in your homestay (a staff member will be eating with you during your first week).


The day will begin as Monday did, with breakfast followed by the trek out to the elephants. Today we may be carrying out health checks on our elephants, if it is safe to do so, before observing them. When we return from the forest, your invited to come along to the school to teach some English to the local kids! After dinner, we’ll have a quiz/trivia night or some fun games to relax.


After breakfast, and once we’ve located the elephants we will eat lunch in the forest with the them! Once we’ve observed them you will have the opportunity to teach some more English at the local nursery, do some community work or a litter clean-up to help and educate the locals, or do a bio-hike with our researchers. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to take part in English lessons for the locals, a really great way to get fully immersed!


Today you’ll have the opportunity to carry out more data collection on the elephants or complete an elephant diary on their natural behaviours. Once we’ve spent long enough with the ele’s, you can choose to help us teach English at the school again, and after tonights dinner, one of our interns will give a presentation relevant to the project.


Breakfast and departure to the forest at the same time. We’ll spend this morning with the elephants but our volunteers will leave in the afternoon (if booking a flight away from Chiang Mai for tonight, please do so for after 9pm).

Volunteers who are staying for 14 nights will spend the weekend back in Chiang Mai and this is entirely your free-time to do as you please. Our team will always be available if you need any advice or assistance during your time in the city, but if you’re OK to handle things yourself, feel free to do so.


If you have chosen to join the project for 14 days then please be back at the pick-up point by 9am on the Sunday morning.


We provide an income for our supported communities by housing our guests, volunteers and interns in their own homestay provided by the local people.

All of our home-stays differ some being a private room inside the family home, others being a wooden hut just outside the family home. Some home-stays have a western toilet, others have a traditional Asian squat toilet. Each one beautifully unique, just like the welcoming hosts.

The accommodation is basic but comfortable and provides all bedding, a mattress, mosquito net, extension cord to charge electronics, filtered water and usually a shared bathroom with cold showers and toilet paper provided.

Hot shower may be provided at our base hut (depending on water pressure). Please be aware that during the dry season there might not be a lot of water available in the pipes for running water, but there will always be a bucket of water in your homestay toilet to be used for showering or flushing the toilet. Electricity can also come off and at different intervals during the dry and rainy seasons.


  1. To confirm your place on the tour we require a deposit of £100 ($130). This can be paid through direct transfer or PayPal. Deposits are non-refundable but are transferable with express written consent from the bookings team at trunk.
  2. We require the outstanding balance to be received no later than 6 weeks before your chosen start date.
  3. Minimum age of travellers is 17 years old unless accompanied by an adult aged 18 or older
  4. All travellers are expected to purchase their own travel and medical insurance prior to entering Cambodia.
  5. Whilst we do our best to cater for all dietary requirements, we can only do this with advance notice. If you have any dietary requirements, please ensure that you inform the bookings team.



Just $925 (£740) for 7 nights
Just $1,745 (£1,396) for 14 nights

BOOK TWO PLACES TOGETHER AND SAVE 20%! Based on sharing a twin or double room.


Chiang Mai (on ANY Saturday of every month)


Chiang Mai


7 nights or 14 nights

Minimum Age

17 years old


  • All accommodation throughout your stay
  • All transport including airport pick up on arrival
  • Thai welcome meal
  • All meals during your stay at the project
  • Daily breakfast at hotels when not at the project
  • Return transfer from Chiang Mai to the sanctuary
  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • Project development work and associated costs
  • 24/7 expert assistance from project coordinators
  • Expertly led interaction with the elephants at the project
  • Fully-immersive, genuine experience
  • Extensive pre-arrival information
  • Lifelong memories and new friendships!

Arrival Dates


All dates are on a Saturday

  • November 7th and 14th
  • December 5th and 19th


All dates are on a Saturday

  • January 9th and 23rd
  • February 6th and 20th
  • March  6th and 20th
  • April  3rd and 24th
  • May 1st and 15th
  • June 5th and 19th
  • July 3rd and 10th
  • August 7th and 21st
  • September 4th and 18th
  • October 2nd and 16th
  • November 6th and 20th 
  • December 4th and 11th

Looking for something else?

Here at trunk we are constantly striving to help more and more ethical locations. If you know of any such project that needs more support, please let us know and we will happily reach out to them.