- posted on Mar 31, 2019
- by Georgia Wilson
Help look after the animals rescued from illegal traffickers by becoming a wildlife volunteer in beautiful Laos!
Set in the beautiful tropics, the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary is tucked away in the rural surrounds of Ban Keun just 60km north of Laos’ capital, Vientiane. In a flourishing Buddhist country, the sanctuary stands as a pillar of hope against illegal wildlife trading and improving the lives of local wildlife, including its own animal residents.
Laos is, unfortunately, one of many major gateways for illegal wildlife trading in Southeast Asia and every day thousands of protected animals are smuggled in and out of the country. Realising the mounting need for intervention, the ever-growing Laos Wildlife Sanctuary was formed in 2015, in partnership with Laos Zoo, and in association with the local government and advising wildlife organisations.
Laos Zoo for many years had functioned without certain expertise that were needed, meaning the proper nutrition and stimulation of the animal residents were often amiss. Now, transformed by the implemented sanctuary, volunteers play a crucial role in caring for and enriching the lives of the existing resident animals and the many new arrivals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
As a volunteer, you will contribute to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of many vulnerable and endangered animals. You will work towards providing the most natural lives possible for any animals that sadly cannot be released. By choosing to volunteer at the up-and-coming Laos Wildlife Sanctuary you will leave a lasting impact, helping to transform the whole zoo grounds into a wildlife rescue and education centre that the whole of Laos can proud of.
On this project, you'll have the incredible opportunity to work with a huge variety of animals! Here are some of the activities you'll be involved in:
Please note that the typical itinerary for the day may change depending on the sanctuary's needs.
To secure a place on this project, a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project! Please be aware there is no maximum duration for this project and each additional week on this project costs £110.
If you are joining the project over the Christmas period, please note that there will be no activities taking place on Christmas Day and therefore your time will be spent at leisure.
The Laos Wildlife Sanctuary began in 2015 and has many plans for development. Currently, work is taking place here is to replace the zoo grounds with a world-class rescue centre. They also aim to create a large education centre, with patrolling education officers, and set up an outreach programme to help teach children about the importance of wildlife conservation and the wonders of nature.
The sanctuary is currently working towards building a strong relationship with the local government. The aim is for the sanctuary and its mobile rescue unit to become a vital partner of law enforcement teams. The sanctuary has also been approached to discuss new laws surrounding wildlife conservation and fighting the illegal wildlife trade that sadly is rife through the country.
With the launch of our brand-new project this week, we thought we would introduce just a few of the incredible species that were once rescued as a result of the illegal wildlife trade! Take a look to find out more about volunteering in Laos and to meet their charming residents!
There are 5 beautiful bungalows onsite that house the volunteers during their stay. There are 2 people to a bungalow, the sanctuary tries to maintain single sex rooms with exceptions for couples, friends and family. There are both male and female shower blocks that are fitted with western toilets and a hot and cold shower. All rooms have electrical outlets, so you can charge your devices if needed. For a small fee, a laundry service is also provided but fresh linen is provided on arrival.
All meals and beverages are provided during your stay at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary. Volunteers prepare their own breakfast and are provided with ingredients such as eggs, bread, butter, milk, etc. to do so. Lunch and dinner are cooked by the sanctuary staff and usually consist of local cuisine, although on some nights western food is provided. Tea, coffee and water are available throughout the day.
As you will be involved in all aspects of the project (including construction and maintenance of enclosures) we recommend that volunteers come with at least a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills are required - all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with every activity, aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, and that you have a respect for the wildlife and the sanctuary staff whom you’ll be working alongside!
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
As this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, there are animals here year-round, meaning there is no favourable time to volunteer regarding wildlife. Weather, however, can impact some people’s decision, and the seasons are explained in more detail below.
March to Mid-June: This period is considered the hot season with temperatures sitting around 28-36°C and during this time the humidity is around 75-90%.
June to October: Brief but heavy rain showers take place throughout the wet season, and temperatures are still high (25-33°C).
November to February: The cool season is the driest season with temperatures of around 18-30°C that tend to drop at night.
You will need to fly into Vientiane International Airport, and we recommend arriving the day before your start date and staying in a hostel or hotel close to the centre, where we can arrange for you to be collected between 9:30am-10:00am the following day. The reason for the short window of time for pick up is so you can be at the sanctuary for lunch-time where you'll meet the team and be given a tour around the facilities.
The transfers to and from the project site are not included in the price but will be arranged for you, so a member of staff or a trusted taxi service will collect and drop you off. Payments need to be made directly to the driver in cash (Kip/LAK is the local currency) on arrival at the sanctuary or airport. The cost of these transfers are 400.000 LAK each way (which is roughly £36). If you are picked up or leaving with other volunteers you will split the cost which will make the journey cheaper.
Upon departure you will need to book flights from 12pm to allow time for the drive back to Vientiane and for check in.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flight page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
To join this project you will need a tourist visa and most nationalities are able to obtain a 30-day tourist visa on arrival into Laos.
To obtain this, you will need to bring 2 passport size pictures with you and pay for the visa on arrival into the airport. This will cost US$35 and must be paid in US dollars.
If you join the project for 6 weeks you will need to visit the immigration office in Vientiane to extend your visa by 14 days for an extra price. If you join the project for longer than 6 weeks you can do a 'visa run' which means crossing the Friendship Bridge in Vientiane, to Thailand and coming back the same day. You'll get a free Thai visa and will then re-enter Laos to obtain a new visa. You can use public transport to do this which will cost no more than $20 USD for the whole trip, not including the visa.
The currency in Laos is the Laotian Kip. 1 is approximately 0.000090 GPB, 0.00010 EUR and 0.00012 USD. For up-to-date exchange rates, click here.
This was a completely amazing opportunity and experience. I’m so glad that I went to do this as projects like these make such a huge difference for the quality of life of the animals and they need support to be able to do that. The staff of site are lovely and made me feel so welcome. Something I will remember for the rest of my life!
Gail Linstead, 2019
If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.
Nikita & team.