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:
The sanctuary is home to over 500 animals and with this many animals, ranging from small to large comes 1000 portions of food! That’s 1000 portions in wide a range of portion sizes, that need to be prepared and served every day, so as you might expect you’ll be kept busy preparing food, creating nutritional diets and feeding a whole host of incredible species from elephants to pangolins, as well as bears, leopards, monkeys and more! This is a great chance to get up close and see some of Asia's most unusual animals in action!
Mental stimulation is very important as it prevents animals from becoming bored and stressed. Enrichment also encourages animals to mimic natural behaviours meaning they can practice behaviours needed to survive when released, and the animals that will live the remainder of their lives at the sanctuary will experience a closer resemblance to a life they would lead in the wild. You'll help create enrichment for over 70 animals in the morning, and enrichment in the afternoon for the nocturnal animals such as leopards. So, get creative!
Making sure the resident and rescued animals have comfortable, clean places to eat and sleep is a top priority at the sanctuary. As a volunteer, you will spend part of each day cleaning the enclosure of your new-found animal friends, ensuring their living spaces are fresh, homey and that they have everything they need and more! For all of the animals, and especially those rescued from the wildlife trade, it is a necessity that they have a safe environment to thrive in!
Being relatively new, the sanctuary has many plans and improvements underway. As a volunteer, you will help to transform the old zoo into the new wildlife rescue and education centre that is desperately needed in Laos. By helping to construct new enclosures and enrichment structures inside them, including swimming pools, shelters, and climbing towers, you will broaden the lives of hairy, scaly and feathered friends alike! You will also be building your lasting impact for the wildlife of Laos.
When the working day is done, volunteers usually socialise in the volunteer house. You will have the option to chill out, watch a movie, participate in game nights and education evenings. On days off, volunteers are taken to a local resort where they can enjoy a dip in the pool for a small price and indulge in the cheap beer and food. There a few shops in the local area; just 200 metres from the volunteer house is a small village with a market and a handful of restaurants for you to try out in your free time.
Please note that the typical itinerary for the day may change depending on the sanctuary's needs.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Arriving into Vientiane International Airport you will be picked up between 9:30 – 10:00am, or if you have arrived the day before you will be picked up from your hotel in Vientiane. You will then transfer to the project site which is roughly 2 hours away. Once arriving from Vientiane, you’ll be shown to your room to settle in, then taken on an orientation tour where you’ll find out more about the facilities, health and safety, and the policies in place here.
Day 2 - 13 - Project Days:
These are your project days, each morning you will meet to discuss the day ahead, then start your morning rounds at 7:30am. Your mornings will consist of feeding the animals and cleaning their enclosures. Around 9:45am you will have a 45-minute break, during which many volunteers choose to have breakfast. Following on from this you will likely take part in a construction project which could be building new enclosures or creating enrichment for the animals. After lunch, you’ll continue your construction project. Your final activity of the day, finishing at 5pm, are the afternoon rounds of cleaning, feeding and creating enrichment for the nocturnal residents! Generally, Sunday is the elected day off for volunteers to spend as they wish.
Day 14 - Final Day:
Today is your last day at the project. After saying goodbye to your new-found friends (including the animals!) you’ll transfer back to Vientiane International Airport to begin your journey home or your onward travels, taking with you all extraordinary memories you’ve made here!
Dates, Availability & Price
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.
Updates & Outcomes
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!
Is this trip for you?
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.
When is the best time to volunteer?
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.
Currency and Exchange Rates
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.
What's included in the price of the project?
- 3 meals a day
- A contribution to the project itself
- An English speaking facilitator
What's not included in the price of the project?
- Transfers (please see the ‘Getting There’ section for details)