Signed in as:
Signed in as:
Not long ago, we dropped everything to fly around the world to help 35 beautiful elephants remain in their natural forest habitat in Om Koi, Thailand. To our surprise and joy an additional 20 asked to join our newest project, GG Om Koi Evolution!! This brought the total to 55! We now have a total of 58; 18 of which are babies. Not only will we be helping these 58 gentle ones, remain in their forest home, but we will be helping the village community, and the environment. We will be helping to reduce our carbon footprint as 58 sentient beings are saved from returning to the cruelty and abuse if tourism and/or logging. The opportunity given to us at Om Koi is the first in Thailand's history. Thanks to us having supported 18 of the elephants for more than a year now, the owners/ mahouts were able to experience a new way of life.
To maintain long-term sustainability, Gentle Giants has developed a volunteer tourism program in which volunteers will pay for the experience of being immersed in the village lifestyle. This will include walking -- at a respectable and safe distance -- with elephants in their natural forest habitat; spending time in the village school with the children helping them to learn English; working with a veterinarian (when available) to help the local animals (dogs, cats, pigs, cows, etc); experiencing and learning about the indigenous flora and fauna and reconnecting with nature.
Income from the program will support the villagers and will eventually decrease the need for Gentle Giants Elephants to subsidize villager's income. Ultimately, Gentle Giants aims to work respectfully with the indigenous villagers who own the elephants in such a sustainable and successful way that the villagers will hopefully end all captive breeding (something that is already beginning to happen), and that as only wild-bred elephants are born, the elephants will be able to return to the forest completely.
An amazing experience you will never forget. Immersed in nature; observing elephants being elephants. Learning & enjoying their true natural behaviors. Living with & learning from the people of Om Koi.
Spend your days walking with the elephants in the forest & to the river; where you will enjoy watching them in their natural habitat from a respectable distance.
As well as, cut & wash food for elephants (seasonal), load food for elephants, &clean elephant Shelter
Stay in a traditional Karen home with one of the Home-Stay hosts. Same gender shared accommodation. Newly installed Western style bathrooms/toilets; shower rooms; dining room; and kitchen.
Learn how the people of Om Koi spend their days. Year Round Activities: Help teach English in local school, learn how to make local Karen crafts (Glass, spoon, tray , broom etc) , Dyeing , Weaving, learn local Karen cooking ,, Visit & care for local people & animals in the village.
Location: Thung Ton Ngio Village Omkoi ( Thai : Omkoi , pronounced [ʔōm.kɔ̌j] ) District is the northwestern most district of Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand in the biodiverse Montane evergreen forest.
Nearest Airport: - Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), Chiang Mai, Thailand
Duration: Volunteer 1 week ( 7 days) - Initial Maximum stay 2 weeks.
Volunteer Operational Months: Year round.
Starting Day: Every Monday.
Occupancy: Minimum of 6 volunteers needed per week (do not need to be related or know each other). Maximum 15 volunteers.
Age Requirements: Adults 18 - 60 years of age & in good health.
Om Koi Volunteer Program: This Program allows the elephants to be free from work. Elephants from tourism & logging where brought back to live in their homeland.
The main goals of the current project are:
1) to continue to keep Asian elephants in their natural forest habitat by purchasing indigenous owners’ crops to feed the elephants, thereby by replacing their lost tourism income;
2) to employ local contractors to build chain-free shelters for the female elephants and their (currently) 18 babies that cannot return to the forest exclusively, having been born in captivity;
3) to educate & train the village woman to make jewelry, cook, prepare host houses for a future volunteer visiting project;
4) to train mahouts in more humane elephant care practices; and
5) to help rejuvenate the surrounding forests by returning the elephants, a keystone species, to the forests during the day.
Volunteers coming to the Om Koi Evolution Elephant Volunteer Program should expect to be engaged in the local culture in the remote village of Om Koi. Working alongside the mahouts and the local community, volunteers will learn more about this unique culture and their relationship with elephants.
Volunteers stay with mahouts' families in a traditional home-stay, learn about mahouts culture, experience Buddhism activity and respectfully & safely observe the elephants. No bathing with elephants. No selfies with elephants.
This offers the people of Om Koi an alternative form of employment away from elephant riding, circus shows, logging; which are the common forms of income for many villagers in the area.
Most importantly volunteers will get a chance to go out on daily walks and observe the elephants interacting with each other in a more natural, respectful setting.
Hopefully, in time, as volunteer numbers increase, and we show the local villagers that people are willing to see elephants in a natural state, they will become self-sustaining & we can expand our ability to support more elephants and villagers in this region.
7 Day Itinerary EXAMPLE - Subject to Changes Depending on Season (see below), Weather, etc.
Day 1 – Picked up at hotel; meet at ENP office; Leave to Om Koi by 7:30am Stop along the way for coffee, break, site seeing, etc 12:00 stop for lunch 4:00 Arrive at Om Koi & get settled 6:00 Ceremony 7:00 Dinner.
Day 2 – 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast 8:30/9:00 am Walk with elephants whole day 12:00 Picnic lunch 1:00 View elephants in natural jungle habitat 3:00 Take elephants to river Back home for dinner.
Day 3 - 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast 8:30 am Visit Local School & interact with children 12:00 Lunch 2:00 Walk elephants to river Back for dinner.
Day 4 - 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast 8:30 am Cut grass for elephants Plant rice in paddy field with local community 12:00 Lunch 2:00 Work with village animals; remove tics, worm cats dogs, etc Back for dinner.
Day 5 – 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast – Only ½ day Jungle Survival Course Lunch – Jungle BBQ Walk with elephants Dinner.
Day 6 - 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast 8:30 am work with woman in local community; prepare rice/weaving, etc 12:00 Lunch with woman in local community 2:00 Visit each host house to say goodbyes. Free time to spend with villagers, shop, talk, etc.
Day 7 - 7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast Leave back to Chiang Mai.
January - February: Help villagers cut fire wood for warm fires, weaving
March - April: Paddy (rice) cultivation, weaving.
May: Plow fields
June: Paddy (rice) cultivation
July - August: Weaving, find food in the wild for cooking, tree plantation
September - October: Harvest crops
November - December: Rice drying, keep rice in stock
You will be living on site in basic, but comfortable home-stay; same gender shared accommodation. There are newly installed Western style bathrooms/toilets; shower rooms; dining room; and kitchen. Volunteers will eat together for every meal. The food is healthy and varied, with a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner with many different dishes to choose from. Vegetarian/Vegan food is always available. All dietary restrictions are catered to.
What is Provided?
What do I need?
What is Included: Transport from Chiang Mai accommodation, to project and back; clean, convenient accommodation on site, Three delicious meals per day, A practical education on the challenges facing elephant conservation; plus a free "Volunteer" t-shirt.
You will be picked up early Monday morning from your hotel in Chiang Mai & travel to the Elephant Nature Park office to fill out all necessary paperwork to participate in the volunteer program.
Return after finishing at the project: Volunteers will leave early Sunday morning and be taken back to Chiang Mai. You are responsible for your accommodations once you return.
We suggest that you travel as lightly as possible. Remember you are 2 hours away from the nearest town. You will be doing a lot of walking/hiking in dense, forest terrain. We recommend that you take the following:
Essential items: Flashlight, earplugs, alarm clock/watch, basic first aid kit, personal medication, towel, personal toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellant, flip flops, closed shoes, (rubber boots can be purchased in Chiang Mai if you do not with to pack for $5 USD) long sleeved shirts and trousers, extra socks. Bottled water will be provided, but you may wish to bring your own refillable water bottle.
Seasonal gear: Rainy season: June - October: poncho/waterproof shoes/boots. Cold season: November - February; can get quite cold at night. Warm clothing, long sleeves, sweat pants, sweatshirt/jacket.
Recommended but not essential: Reading material, travel games, camera, small daypack, gardening gloves, wide brimmed hat.
Important Note about clothing: Please remember to pack clothes that are respectful to the local culture - t-shirts that cover your shoulders, shorts that come down to your knees - No bikinis, string vest tops or hot pants allowed. You will be asked to change if you are wearing any of these items. Comfortable, long leg, Elephant pants can be purchased at the Elephant Nature Park office for $5 USD upon pick-up.
Baggage / Luggage allowance: One Standard Check-in Sized Rucksack/Suit Case/Bag AND one small day pack per person.
Volunteer Donation for one week (Monday - Sunday) is 25,618 THB - $700.00 USD per person.
Minimum of 6 volunteers needed per week (do not need to be related or know each other). Maximum 15 volunteers.
Volunteers must be 18 - 60 years of age & in good health.
Bookings close: Two Days before you are due to visit.
Extensions: You can extend your volunteer program another week.
The initial maximum 2 weeks may be extended depending on availability and suitability. Any decision of extensions will be made at the end of your stay with us.
Refund Policy: Donations are nonrefundable. A minimum of one week notice of cancellation is mandatory. You will be issued a "rain check" good for one years time.
Om Koi Evolution currently has 19 baby elephants - all have wild male elephants as fathers; there is no captive breeding.
Learn & experience how the village people live.
Join us in an experience of a lifetime - learning about, and experiencing, these majestic giants in their natural habitat.