The Leap | Teach, Community Development + Elephant Conservation in Cambodia

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Looking for a January/February Departure?

We still have a few spaces left in our Tanzania, Ecuador, Cambodia and Costa Rica teams heading off in Jan and Feb. Just get in touch for more information.


Join a team of Leap volunteers, heading out to Cambodia, to protect endangered elephants, build fresh water wells in rural villages and provide an alternative to begging on the beaches.

4 to 8 week programs available, throughout the year.

A full 8 week program will include all of the following:

Siem Reap (city life): 6 weeks.
Work with children in care, teaching English and refurbishing their homes. Help reduce diseases in rural communities by building fresh water wells in the heart of their villages.

Sihanoukville (beach life): 1 week
Work with street kids at a drop-in arts project. Encourage the kids to draw, then help sell their creations to tourists - the income going straight back to the kids and their families providing an alternative to begging.

Elephant Conservation (jungle life): 1 week
Protect these amazing creatures by feeding, cleaning and conserving their environment on the Vietnam boarder. Little slice of heaven.

Questions & Answers


based on 6 reviews
  • Housing 8.5
  • Support 7.7
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 6 of 6

Cambodia July/August 2017

It was an amazing 6 weeks - from start to finish. The connection that I made with the children at the school was incredible, making it extremely emotional and difficult to leave. Cambodia is an amazing country, with even more amazing people. Everyone was so friendly - some people too much so (tuk tuk drivers). Siem Reap is great fun. There is always a buzz in the town and something is always going on. Nightlife-wise, this place is fantastic. Perfect for anyone looking for a worthwhile experience, but also looking to make new friends.

How can this program be improved?
I'm afraid to say that I am on the verge of saying no to reccommending this program to others. As amazing as the 6 weeks were, I encountered many problems regarding organisation that was not impressive. Personally, I don't think that being treated like children on a school trip is acceptable for a program like this. People expect freedom to explore and experience the country. We were all 19+, adults. If I wanted to hire a moped to explore the city, that's on my own shoulders, covered by my own insurance. I'm an adult and can make my own decisions. There was then the issue of being misinformed many times, always expecting the group to partake in weekend activities all together - again, like a school trip. People may have wanted to do different trips on different days, however they would then charge us more for transport. This seemed like a pathetic money saver, by just assuming we would do Angkor wat or the waterfalls etc together "as a class". Also, we were aware that we had to show up for work each day, we wouldn't have paid all that money to go there and not work, so having a curfew was too, very undermining. There then came the issue of Sihanoukville and our further travels - whereby we were allocated $4 to a meal. When advertising that all of our meals would be included, being given $4 for a meal where the cheapest dish is $5/6, without even a drink, is ridiculous. Koh Rong Samloem was incredible, which made it a great shame that we were only there for 4 hours, having been told that we would be there for the day and having paid $25 for the boat trip. I was also surprised that we went to Samloem instead of the main island where there would've been loads to do - our only option was to lay on the beach. I really enjoyed the experience of the 6 weeks, but I found that it was a very restricted trip, which would need loosening for me to recommend this to other people.
Response from The Leap

Hi Nick,
We are glad to read that 'overall' you had a good time in Cambodia despite your frustration over the team management of the trip. We run the program with the volunteers safety and wellbeing as our main priority. Over the years we have seen some hideous moped accidents, late night drinking which has upset the local community and disjointed logistics which has steered our project leaders to set the parameters you mentioned.
What we have learned, from your helpful feedback, is to up our pre-departure briefing so everyone is better placed to judge if our Leap boundaries are for them.
I thank you for your time to give feedback, which we fully respect and have acted upon.
Wishing you well.

Yes, I recommend this program
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10 Weeks in Cambodia

I embarked on my adventure in January 2015 to Cambodia. The group was made up of 12 and we spent 6 weeks in Siem Reap. We split into two groups so there was enough work for everyone. Our first project was building a water pump and a toilet. The hospitality from the locals was amazing very friendly and caring.. making sure we were hydrated with coconuts and trying local delicacies.. one of my highlights Cobra soup! When we weren't building we taught English in two schools. Despite having no teaching experience I enjoyed the children's enthusiasm to learn. Then we spent two weeks in Sihanoukville where we volunteered at an art project centre for children. It was amazing to see the effects of the community coming together to improve their childrens future. Finally we spent two weeks at an Elephant Sanctuary where we chopped down banana trees and fed the elephants along with manual labour on the farm for the new banana trees to grow. It was amazing living in the jungle with electricity on for a few hours each night.

How can this program be improved?
In Sihanoukville at the time we were there it was Chinese New Year (Cambodian's love a party) so there wasn't as many children at the centre as there usually would be. I felt as if our time wasn't utilized as best as it could be, however the whole program I thoroughly enjoyed.
Response from The Leap

Hi Tom,

Thank you for leaving such a positive review. We totally understand the frustration of the "holiday time" and you are right Cambodian's love a party! I have asked Gregory to be more mindful of for next year.

Wanderlust is good - never let it go...keep traveling...if we ever need someone to do a recce for us I will keep you in mind, but you're going to have to fight with the team!!

Happy Christmas to you,


Yes, I recommend this program
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Life-changing, humbling volunteering, fabulous trips and buzzing nightlife

My 10 weeks in Cambodia were truly 10 of the best in my life. It is amazing how many different experiences I was able to have over the 2 1/2 months. I really loved teaching english and forming a great relationship with the children we taught. It was amazing to see their smiles and hear their giggles when they saw 'teacher Lucy' for another day. I had a lovely class in ELMA school with 4 girls (it was rare to stay at the school until 'Level 3' so it was a very small class). Sreymom, Sreyneath, Elita and Pisey were all so eager to learn and make friends with us. We taught them the cup song it was so special to hear them sing it to us when we left. At KIDTEA in Trang Village I had the opportunity of teaching a class of students our age (between 16 and 19) and it was great to make friends with the Cambodians and compare our interests. My other highlight of volunteering was working at the Elephant Valley project in the beautiful tropical forest in the North-East of Cambodia. All the views we had the joy of seeing were incredible and I really loved living there without the disturbance of phones (with no phone signal or wifi). Building the well and the toilet was very challenging especially in the heat of the sun but the work was eventually very rewarding particularly as we got meet the families we helped. I was talking to another girl who had been on a Leap project and she said she was surprised ny the amount of work you have to do. I must warn you that if you are expecting a holiday with a little bit of volunteering here and there you have the wrong program, you work 7-5 (with a nice lunch break) Monday to Friday. I personally enjoyed that the program had this level of intensity as it kept us busy and made sure we really felt like we were making a difference. Other than volunteering, many of the trips we went on were amazing, seeing waterfalls, (Phnom Kulen highly recommended) the beautiful island of Koh Rong, floating villages, a traditional Cambodian circus (in Siem Reap--jaw dropping), Angkor Wat obviously and many more. A highlight of Koh Rong was an $8 boat trip which included snorkelling, fishing, BBQing the fish we caught, watching the sun set on long beach with a whiskey coke in hand and then when night fell seeing the incrdible, luminous green electro plankton. The only thing to be wary of is that none of these trips are included in the cost of the program and you may need to budget up to $400 or even $500 to go on all of them. The nightlife is also surprisingly happening in Siem Reap with Pub Street boasting two clubs opposite each other promoting dancing in the street. The best, cheapest pre-drinking bar is Angkor Famous where you can get strong vodka/rum mixers for $1. In Sihanoukville Utopia at the top of the hill is a good bar for cheap beers (25 cents at happy hours) where I worked for a few nights as a promoter handing out flyers in exchange for free drinks. Dolphin Shack is the new place to be after 11/12 where I spent most my nights. Surprisingly Sen Monorum (the town below the elephant valley where you go on weekends) also has things going on after dark. Chilli on the rocks' signature lemongrass mojito has to be one of the best drinks I've ever has and for $1.75 is a no brainer. There's also Sovannkiri run by a lovely Australian guy Callum who married a Cambodian and will just stay open until his last customer leaves.
I really would recommend the program. The only thing that slightly let it down for me was our project leader Sovann who was inefficient and impolite. I would ask who your leader is and take this into account. I wouldn't say it's a reason for not going--as you can tell I still had an incredible time but it's worth considering.
I would also recommend reading up about the history of Cambodia before you get there and when you're there making the effort to learn some of the language--it's really appreciated by the locals.

How can this program be improved?
-- Different project leader who is more efficient, has a greater awareness of what's going on and is more polite
--Have a few trips included in the price such as Angkor Wat for example or some of the museum entrance fees
--Advice a higher spending budget, especially in light of trips, $500 is too little
Yes, I recommend this program
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Great activities & amazing experience

I went into this program for a part of my gap year. It was important for me to be with people my age & in the same mind set as I was. I got there & all the people traveling with me were great! Everyone became friends & a team in just a week or so. Volunteering is Siem Reap was so rewarding. The toilet we build will help the family in huge ways & the kids in the family were so happy & fun to be around & teach in the afternoon. I really felt I was part of their community! The villa was beautiful, there was a pool, so unexpected. On the coast the volunteering was so well run & the people were inspiring. If you go to shihanoukville on the program, or in general, going to the island of Koh Rong is a must. Elephant Valley was my favorite part of the whole journey. Volunteering there really made me feel like I was helping & the difference was obvious. The volunteer coordinator was great and encouraging. All the staff was incredible! They made you feel so welcome and appreciated. All awesome people who love their jobs & the animals (elephants, pigs etc.). Accommodations were great for being in the middle of the jungle. I felt super comfortable the whole time. Of course the elephants were the best part. Observing them everyday was a huge highlight. They are magnificent animals and it was a life changing experience. Overall phenomenal organization and people who run it. I'd love to go back as soon as possible. As to the leap program, not great reviews on the guide/program leader we had in Cambodia was not great. Rude, forgetful, not very knowledgeable about the projects, unappreciative, always tired. BUT he may have changed for the program now, after our group wasn't too pleased. Besides that, the program was wonderful. Even with the bad guide I would recommend the trip. It was better than I had expected & I've made memories & friends that I'll have forever. If I could relive it I 100% would.

How can this program be improved?
Different & better project leader. Maybe one English/western guide as well, but also a Cambodian leader. Recommend more spending money about 1,000-1,500 or more is best.
Response from The Leap

Thank you for your feedback - we take it very seriously and are acting on it before the next departure.

Despite the problems I am pleased you loved being on Cambodia. It really is a very special place.

Have a good Christmas and many thanks once again.


Yes, I recommend this program
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An amazing 10 weeks on the Leap!

My name is Max and I was one of the 14 person team that went on the Cambodia 'Leap' adventure this April. The placement lasted for 10 weeks and I loved every moment of it. The first 6 weeks helping local villages around the ancient town of Siem Reap really showed how much we as volunteers could give. We built pumping wells, toilet facilities and renovated their houses, plus the children always needed a game of football to finish the days work! For the next 2 weeks we were positioned on the Cambodia-Vietnam border in a jungle town called Mondulkuri. Here, we helped the Elephant Valley Project team in rehabilitating hurt or abused elephants, an absolutely wonderful experience. We were allowed to feed and wash the elephants and get extremely close to these majestic animals. The final 2 weeks was spent on the coast in a town called SIhnoukville, where, in conjunction with the Let Us Create painting project, we helped getting homeless children off the street and getting them involved in arts and crafts, something they would never normally have the opportunity to do. Overall ever single member of the 14 person team was very sad to leave this wonderful place after the 10 weeks and I can confidently say that I have made friends for life. A massive thank you must of course go to team on the ground in Cambodia but also to Guy and Milly Whitehead, who are the husband and wife team who run the amazing Leap Gap Year Company. in my opinion there is no better way to spend your year out from school than this. Incredible!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Leapers Mum

The Leap took all the responsibility and stress out of the gap year experience. Would advise that all teenagers do this part of their gap year before they 'free' travel. The Leap are highly professional and inclusive of parents. An experience not to be missed!

How can this program be improved?
The meeting venue at the de-briefing - it should be more modern and fun for the teenagers and have something to do with travel not the army.
Yes, I recommend this program


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The Leap has been leading the field in overseas volunteering and career enhancing internships since 2002, providing award winning programs across Africa, Asia and South America. They are the first UK company to be accredited by the Gap Year...