Volunteer Work With Elephants

Video and Photos

volunteer elephant india
volunteer elephant india
Making elephant chapati!
Elephant tuk tuk wash anyone?

About

Volunteer Work With Elephants. Volunteers required to do care and help work for Elephants and their mahouts at one of the Elephants Camp in India. For a long time now all the elephants located in Jaipur have not been living together. Every day, in the morning, the elephants in the city give tourist rides to Fort Amber. But this is tough for mahouts as well as elephants because there is a long distance to walk to the fort. In 2005 the Government of Rajasthan, India, has allotted a place in the area, 30 hectares of land near Jaipur, a place called Elephant Village. It has stable blocks for each elephant, it has housing for the animals; it also has a big man-made lake where the elephants can swim and get thoroughly washed after a day spent in the heat and dust.

Questions & Answers

Here are the fees for the elephant program (in US $). You can find more information on their website! 1 Week 180 2 Weeks 360 3 Weeks 540 4 Weeks 720 5 Weeks 900 6 Weeks 1080 Extra Week 180

Reviews

95%
based on 30 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 30
Default avatar
Cara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

Volunteering with elephants was truly an unforgettable experience I will never forget. If you love elephants and want something different with your time in Jaipur then this project is right for you. We got to spend lots of time with the elephants away from the traffic and crowds. We helped make chabati for them, fed them, cleaned their area, gave lots of hugs and pats. Was awesome to meet other volunteers on the program from other countries. The staff work very for these elephants. The staff are very friendly and made us feel very welcome. We also visited the baby elephant close by. I now have so many amazing memories bonding with these elephants and incredible photos to treasure. I highly recommend you join this program, you won’t regret it.

What would you improve about this program?
I would like to see the elephants enjoying free time unchained. I’m sure they would love a bit of playtime also (water and bucket)
Default avatar
Isabella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unexpected and inspiring experience

I worked with Volunteering with India in the medical project but I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer in the elephant project for one day.

At the beginning I wasn’t sure I’d like it but finally I have really enjoyed my time there, being part of the team, cleaning and taking care of the elephants especially because not all the elephants can be returned to the wild and this project provides a lovely home for them.

It has been an interesting experience and I also enjoy to spend time with the people in charge of them.
They can teach you how to interact with these kind of animals.

Now I can say that elephants standard of living is higher than before and these are some of the reasons why I recommend this project.

Default avatar
Teresa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everyone should visit...

... India at least once in their lifetime.

It was my first time here and I felt safe as at home from the first instance. The first hours in India were amazing and really funny, it started on the road from Delhi to Jaipur with the coloured trucks and the horns from the traffic with the crew.

The crew from Volunteeringwithindia is amazing, they helped me, showed me about the city and their work here and I learnt a lot from what I saw. I also exchanged a lot of experiences and knowledge with the other volunteers from the programme.

The guesthouse was a happy sweet place and Toto was a great tuktuk driver as well as a good guide.

The experience about working with the elephants was very good to me as well as the time I spent in Jaipur. I would do it again for sure.

Thank you all guys!

Default avatar
Matilda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 3 weeks volunteering with elephants! From my experience, each elephant is truly loved, respected and cared for by their mahouts. I think it is very easy (for Westerners especially) to judge and condemn the use of elephants for tourist rides, but after working closely with both the elephants and their mahouts, I encourage people to be more open-minded.
The actual work consists of waking early (arriving around 5.30am) where you begin by cleaning the area, washing the elephants, and feeding them bananas and chapattis. It’s hard work, but it gives you a real hands-on taster of what it’s like to look after these amazing animals, and the mahouts appreciate the help. The elephants all have very different personalities - some naughtier than others!
I always had a VWI coordinator with me too so if I had any questions, he was able to translate which helped a lot as the mahouts don’t speak much English.
I have felt welcomed, supported and valued during my time here. I would definitely recommend any of the VWI programmes for anyone keen to have a taste of the ‘real’ India!

What was your funniest moment?
One of the mahouts thought it would be hilarious to put a dead beetle in one of the volunteer’s shoe.. I could not stop laughing!
Default avatar
Rav
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Dream come true!

We volunteered to join two projects with VWI and started at Elephant village. Upon arrival in Jaipur me and my husband were picked up from the airport late at night by the coordinator and immediately felt welcomed and taken care of. We received an itinerary which explained everything in great detail and was very helpful for us to understand what the elephant project involved. We were collected every morning on time at 5am. The coordinator for the elephant village was super flexible -if we woke up late it was never a problem. He met us as the sun started to rise with a big smile making everything joyful from the beginning . The work was much easier than we initially thought. The elephant huts were cleaned every morning followed by elephant showers and then feeding time. The elephants are working animals, this at first made us feel a little uncomfortable. But as the days went by and after learning more about the government scheme for families and elephants. The elephants are always very gentle and calm, and we soon realised that they were very well taken care of by their owners (mahout). We felt overwhelmed by their kindness and care- the mahouts who have very little demonstrated such patience and love for their individual elephants.. and so it was clear to us that this was a positive environment for them all.

What was your funniest moment?
The elephants are very cheeky! After giving Rupa some water in her trunk, she played around and squirted us with water. I’m sure it was accidental;)
Default avatar
Lottie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Working with the elephants

I was able to work with the elephants for a week in Jaipur and in that time got hands-on experience with the elephants everyday! A typical morning would consist of cleaning out the elephants area followed by washing them with water and brushing them down. We were able to get to know the people who looked after them everyday and formed lovely friendships with them, which made the experience even better. The elephants were all so friendly, which meant we were able to constantly feed them treats such as bananas, which was such an incredible experience. The people working there made you feel very safe around the elephants, which increased my confidence when around the elephants. During the two afternoons we got to spend with the elephants, we were able to make chapati for them from scratch which was such a unique experience. During this time we also got to know the elephants better as well as feeding them more sugar cane. Overall it was such a unique experience and very fun! I would recommend it to anyone who likes animals and wants to be hands-on with these amazing creatures!

What was your funniest moment?
One of the funniest and most memorable moments was when we held their bundles of food in certain positions such as on our heads or under our arms, meaning the elephants had to use their trunks to take it from us. Photos below! This was very fun and just proves how gentle and kind these elephants were. It was also such a unique experience to be able to get that close to such a large animal!
Default avatar
Coline
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable experience

I volunteered with Elephants Program for a week because I wanted to discover those magnificent animals and to be in immersion into indian daily life, and I am fully satisfied. It's an unforgettable experience. The guesthouse family is lovely and always available to help you or happy to have conversations with you. The team members I met, Sukret, Rohid and Shekhear, were perfect. Everything was properly organized and booked. They take good care of me and, as a lonely traveler, I never felt alone. My experience with elephants was precious and mahouts' life is so interesting to discover. Elephants are so sensitive and intelligent animal and it is a great opportunity to discover it by myself.
Big thanks to the Prity Guesthouse family and to VWI team !
I definitely recommend this program.

Eric
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Some photos of our wonderful experience

Here are some photos we took during our unforgetable experience with Elephant Program.
It wasn't hard to wake up twice a week at 4:30 am to go to Elephant Village. We enjoyed leaving so early because we knew that we will see "our" elephants still sleeping or just awoken. It's a magical experience to look at them wake up gently at dawn. It's also very interesting to learn how to feed them (especially by making chapati ! It's a hard job !)

Eric
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgetable experience

My wife and I stayed one week in Jaipur in September 2018. We choosed the Elephant Program of VWI. It was an unforgetable and a life time experience. It was beyond our expectations and we were very sad to leave after spending one week with the elephants and their mahout. Before staying there, we couldn't imagine how elephants are intelligent and also very sensitive animals.
We would like to thank Sukret and Govind for their kindness and availability.
It is a really wonderful experience for those who want learn more about elephants. But it's also an unforgetable human experience.

Default avatar
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An authentic experience

It is simply one of the best experiences you can have traveling abroad. Not only is it an authentic experience but you also get to give back and travel with a purpose and I loved every minute of it.

The organizers Sukret and Govind were just wonderful, and of course the guest house family. When I arrived as a solo traveler during November 2016, the black money crisis was going on and I was quite worried about withdrawing cash. I had only been in India 1 night and Sukret came to pick me up and covered the cost of my guest house expenses since I had no cash at the time. It was a large problem across the country. That gesture right from the beginning really wow'd me. Everyone went over and beyond to help me during my stay to ensure that I had enough cash to cover the basics and enjoy some of the tourism too. I am so grateful for their gracious hospitality. Also the food is fabulous

Furthermore, I clearly didn't read all the details but was pleasantly surprised with the activities taking place every weekend ( monkey temple, amber fort, bollywood movies, etc). However, if you are abit of a yogi Sukrets father does his morning yoga and is a great teacher. A great opportunity to start your day off right after you finish with the elephants first of course. They live not far from the guest house, but is still a drive away.

I spent a total of 2 weeks with the project and did 1 week teaching at the orphanage and the other with the elephants. A nice balance of being exposed to both projects.

I thought the accommodations were perfect since it is a guest house after all, you are a guest in their home so don't forget it. The family is very accommodating and look after you well. No need to hesitate to speak up though either if you need something. I would definitely recommend staying here, the location is seriously in a prime spot, you can walk to most things or are a short tuk tuk ride away:)

What would you improve about this program?
Personally I am abit of a planner. I recall there being printed documents that reviewed the weekly schedule, weekend activities etc that I do not recall seeing on the website. An emailed copy in advance would be lovely to give volunteers a rough idea of what to expect :)
Adrienne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved this!

I actually volunteered twice for the Elephant program, once in 2014, and again in Feb 2015. It is a super fun program that not only gives you a once in a lifetime experience up close and personal with Elephants, but also gives you a window into the life of the people who own and care for these animals and their families.
You can expect to wake up early (4 or 5am.) And take a 20min tuk tuk ride to the Elephant Village. There is some dirty work involved, such as picking up the poop (they give you gloves) and emptying the poop in a field. But the experience is great, the elephants are friendly and love treats such as bananas, apples, oranges...after all your hard work, you'll enjoy a nice cup of chai and a chat with the mahouts. Maybe even an elephant ride or two!
***Be advised going into this program that this is not an Elephant rescue program, or a Elephant Reserve. These elephants WORK. They are used to give tours up to Amber Fort and other places around Jaipur. Sometimes they are used for weddings. Some of these elephants were rescued from circuses or other abusive settings and brought to the elephant village. They still are used for tours however. In this program I can tell you first hand that these elephants are properly cared for. They are provided with veterinarian care regularly (one had an ear infection and was visited by a vet and treated daily with topical ointment as well as antibiotics while I was there.) They are fed properly (probably excessively! They get lots of treats!) and all are provided shelter and bedding to sleep on. They are chained when inside their shelter, and they are chained while you are cleaning up around them. This is for the protection of the people working near them. Although elephants are friendly and peaceful, they are still a huge animal with a lot of power and capable of severe damage, even if it is unintentional. As far as other reports of use of a bull hook go, I have seen a bull hook in one location. I have never seen it used on any of the elephants. None of the elephants I was around ever had wounds indicating bull hook use, or any other kind of abuse. Some of the elephants, that came from previous circumstances, have old scars around their ears and top of their head. These are obviously very old, and have been healed many years. Never have I seen any elephant with any fresh wound anywhere.
Volunteers help in two ways in this program: 1) The fee you pay to do this program goes to help the families who own the elephants, as well as provide food and care for the elephants themselves. These families are poor. The elephant tours are their sole source of income for many of them. Some of them can hardly afford to feed themselves, let alone an elephant. This program ensures that the elephant is properly fed, cared for, sheltered, and has access to medical attention.
2) Helping the family clean and take care of the elephant in the morning gives the family extra time to take care of children, spend time together, eat breakfast together etc. before they go out to make their money for the day.
I enjoyed this program so much I came back a year later and did it again. I think it does a lot of good for these people, as well as the elephants. But if you're looking for an experience working at an elephant sanctuary or reserve for rescued elephants, this is not it.

What would you improve about this program?
From the other reviews I've read on this site and others, perhaps being more clear that these are working elephants, and not an elephant rescue sanctuary, would help clear up misunderstandings people are having beforehand. However, things were clearly explained to me, and I knew what to expect ahead of time.
Default avatar
Linda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience ever!

I traveled alone to India and worked 2 weeks with the elephants in the month of February. It was a life changing experience for sure and I feel blessed to have been able to work so closely with these magnificent animals. Totoram, the tuk tuk driver is a wonderful man who I felt safe with and well cared for. All the employees of VWI made me feel looked after as they checked in with me regularly to see how I was doing. The program is very affordable. The guest house was good. Living there was an authentic Indian experience that I will never forget. Although I am not a morning person, getting up at 0430 hours and being the first person the elephants saw in the morning made my day. I took bananas as a treat so they could start their day off happy. It was pretty cool to see the city come alive during the morning tuk tuk rides. Having the afternoons off to sight see or shop or hang out was perfect. I highly recommend this program to everyone. The work was not hard and the memories will be in my heart forever. Good Job VWI!

What would you improve about this program?
It is perfect the way it is but if I could suggest one small thing....to suggest reading material if there is any to learn more about the lives of the elephants and mawohouts and training they have. Too it would have been fascinating to watch them groom teh
Default avatar
Michael
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience.

I was there 1 week in January 2015. Working days started at 5:00am. We cleaned the enclosures and fed the elephants before they went to work. Then we had a nice Masala Tea at the fire. Around 8:30am we were back and the rest of the day was free.
Accommodation with host family was basic but ok. Also food was good.
I hope I can manage to go there again. Would recommend this Project to everyone.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have loved to had the possibility to interact more with the elephants.
Response from Volunteering With India

Thank you Michael, We would love to see you back in program soon :)

Default avatar
Elise
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience!

We got up every morning at 4.30 and got picked up by the most amazing tuk tuk driver - Totoram. Then we drove for about half an hour to where the six lady elephants were waiting for us to wake them up :) We were back at the guest house around 8.00 every morning, and then we had the rest of the day off (except for two days a week when we went back to work in the afternoon to feed the elephants).

The work was not hard at all, and there was chai time (tea time) almost every 15 minutes :P The animals are huge, and in the beginning I was a little scared, but after the second day I trusted them completely. I also got the chance to "play" a little bit with them by asking the guys who worked with the elephants to teach me how to climb one. That was probably the highlight of the week, along with washing them and riding them.

The family we lived with was also fantastic (they even invited us to a wedding while we were there), but the food could have been better. Sometimes we only got chapati for breakfast, or we didn't get breakfast or lunch at all.

Response from Volunteering With India

Dear Elise,

Thank you for giving us rating in program 10 out of 9 :)
We have dedicated meals time for breakfast/Lunch/Dinner so if volunteers are not there at the house they misses the food. Meals provided by the family is typical Indian Vegetarian. Most of the Indian families eats multiple type of chapati's. In breakfast they serve mix veg paratha ( chapati) :)

Default avatar
Hollie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I love elephants

I had an great time working with the elephants. Even within the one week they were there we got to know them and their personalities. The mahouts who care for the elephants are all extremely nice and feed you up with chai. Sukret kept in contact with us from the moment we booked the experience right until the very end (we now even have him and Govind on facebook). Our tuk tuk driver was the loveliest man in the world. My friend Megan spilt coffee on herself as we were sightseeing and he pulled over and rinsed her down! The host family were extremely accommodating and made us feel at home. Although while we were there, the daughter-in-law was basically in labour and one of the daughters was getting engaged, so it was a bit hectic.
I can assure you that this project and all the people are legitimate. We have a very near miss. Our driver for around Rajisthan tooko us to who we thought was Sukret, but the guy claimed to be Sukret's cousin. After attempting to take our money several times, we rang Sukret just to double check, and he said he had no idea who that man was and didn't have a cousin that worked at the elephant village. It was a close call!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that bothered me was that the elephants had scars on their ears from the bull hooks that they use, and some had various other injuries/conditions, that we saw no care for.

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About Volunteering With India

Volunteering With India gives you opportunity to work in India for various development volunteering program including work with children, Orphanage work, Work with elephants,Women empowerment & Theater Volunteer program.