You will work to ensure that the pandas two enclosures are both clean and habitable for the bears. The pandas have both an indoors and outdoors enclosure, so cleaning is a full-time job as the bears don’t properly digest their food so they can be a little messy!
Pandas are extremely hungry animals and at the reserve they eat 4 times a day. This means that volunteers are needed to not only help prepare the food, but to also feed it to the bears through their enclosures. You will be helping to prepare a wide variety of food for the bears including apples, bamboo or even panda cake!
Occasionally volunteers are asked to help conduct research into the pandas behaviours and medical health so that the teams at the centre can learn more about this endangered species. With 40 pandas at the centre, volunteer help is crucial in extending knowledge about the giant panda and as a result one day ensuring that the population of these bears is stable enough to survive out in the wild.
Exploring The Centre
As a volunteer at the Bifengxia centre you will have full access to all parts of the centre. In your free time you will be able to visit the nursery where any young pandas that were abandoned by their mothers are homed, the animal rescue centre, the educational facilities and much more. Just make sure you’ve packed your camera!
It isn’t all panda activities here as you will also get the chance to truly immerse yourself in Chinese culture during your stay. You will have the chance to learn Chinese as well as how to write it down in Chinese calligraphy lessons. You will also take part in dumpling making, playing the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, and many other activities, so your time in China is going to be busy to say the least!
City Tour & Visit To Panda Breeding Centre
On the second day of your trip, you will have the chance to visit the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre to take a look at all of the important work that is going on here. After this, you will also have the chance to head out on a walking tour of this incredible city, taking in sights such as Tianfu Square, the Peoples Park and Kuanzhai Alley so be sure to bring your camera with you!
Please note that this itinerary is subject to change so what follows is a rough guideline.
Day 1 – The Adventure Begins :
After being picked up from Chengdu International Airport, you will be transported to the Mrs Panda Hostel in Chengdu and you will be free to explore the local area, taking in the sights and sounds of the busy city and getting your first taste of Chinese culture. After you have dropped off your bag at your home for the next two nights, you will be free to wander through Chengdu and maybe even try some market food if you are feeling brave enough to handle the spice!
Day 2 - Exploring Chengdu:
After enjoying a delicious breakfast as the Mrs Panda Hostel, you will pay a visit to Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Centre to learn more about panda conservation efforts. After this you will take a walking city tour of Chengdu and take in the sights including Tianfu Square, Peoples Park, and Kuanzhai Alley, making time for lunch too. The day will end with a welcome dinner at a local hotpot restaurant!
Day 3 - Transfer To The Panda Centre:
It is an early start today as you and your fellow volunteers will meet at 6.15am to transfer to the Bifengxia Panda Reserve where the project is based. This journey takes around 2.5 hours, and upon arrival you will enjoy breakfast. After your hunger has been cured, you will be taken to the hostel in which you will be staying for the duration of the project and you’ll be able to unpack before having a project briefing. Lunch is at 12, and after this you will get your project uniform and start learning about the panda activities. Then it’s time for dinner and a Chinese lesson!
Day 4 - Project Work Begins:
Today is the day you begin the project and will meet the pandas for the first time. After breakfast you will head over to the area of the panda centre to which you have been assigned and you will begin your tasks which could include anything from making panda cake through to cleaning the cages. This evening consists of lessons in both dumpling making and the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, alongside another delicious meal for dinner.
Day 5 - Project Work & Chinese Lessons:
It's breakfast by 8.00am to begin a day of volunteering at 9.00am. If there are ten or more volunteers at the centre during your stay then you will spend the remainder of the morning taking part in research activities. However if there are fewer than 10 volunteers in your group then you will be preparing food for the pandas and spend time feeding them! Lunch is at 12.20pm and afterwards you'll return to the pandas and help to feed them once again. Remember they are hungry animals! Complete the day by learning Chinese calligraphy or playing the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong!
Day 6 - Cleaning and Feeding:
Today you will take part in the same activities as the previous days until you finish at 4pm. After this you will have the chance to spend time with the other volunteers either at the on-site bar or playing games such as Mahjong which you will have learned to play whilst here! You will also have the option to further explore the panda centre if you wish, and this is a good time to check out all of the good work that goes on here. Occasionally there is a trip booked to the local Bifeng Temple but you would need to check this with the in-country team.
Day 7 - Head Back To Chengdu:
Today it is unfortunately time to say your goodbyes to your fellow volunteers (and the pandas of course) as you will transfer back to Chengdu International Airport to return home or to begin your onward travel plans. Your time at the panda centre may be over, but you can guarantee that you will have left with a whole host of amazing memories and photos.
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.
Updates & Outcomes
The Bifengxia Panda Base is the largest centre for panda conservation in the whole of China, but the centre has had to overcome some major obstacles in its quest to learn more about these gentle giants.
Back in 2008 an earthquake decimated the Hetaoping Panda Centre where over 100 pandas were located, and as a result a large number of the bears were moved to the Bifengxia centre. Here the population of the pandas has more than doubled in that time, and as a result around 70% of pandas worldwide have originally come from this panda reserve.
The aims of the reserve are three fold. They are; to ensure that the rescued and captive panda population is well cared for, to protect the genetic variation of a species of animal which is notoriously difficult when it comes to breeding, and to facilitate sustainable development of the species in general.
As a volunteer on this project you will play a big part in assisting the dedicated panda carers as they go about their daily routines with the bears, and as a result will help the reserve to accomplish all of its aims!
- posted on Aug 13, 2017
- by Matt Prior
How up to scratch is your panda knowledge? Fear no more, as The Great Projects have bought you an abundance of fascinating panda facts right here in one blog. These beautiful bears could be seen as the symbol of endangered wildlife, and one way of spreading awareness, is expanding your knowledge in the first place!
Enjoying your summer so far? We hope so! But it’s never too early to start planning for your next adventure! Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of the best projects to visit in 2018 – so consider taking a holiday with a difference, and see which of our conservation projects you could be joining next year!
One of our kind and generous volunteers Sarah recently returned from her endeavours to China. She volunteered at the Panda Volunteer Experience In China and was kind enough to send some fascinating pics of her trip! It's easy to say she had a fantastic time and she wants to share her experience with you!
Is this trip for you?
For the first two nights of this project (Sunday and Monday) you will be staying at the quaint Mrs Panda Hostel in Chengdu. Rooms are shared with a maximum of 6 people per room. As you can probably gather from the name, the hostel is Panda themed, and the staff at the hostel are very friendly and helpful. When you arrive at the centre you will be staying in a comfortable and recently renovated hostel. At the hostel you will be staying in twin rooms which come with; 24-hour hot water, a squatting toilet and a television. You will also have access to a common room which is popular for movie nights! It may be possible to upgrade to a twin share room with a western toilet, both at the Panda Hostel and centre. These rooms are dependent on availability, please enquire for further information.
On the day of your arrival you will need to purchase your own food, but for your entire remaining stay at the project your meals are provided. The meals you will receive will be in the traditional Chinese style, comprising mainly of rice, noodles, vegetables and some meat. Some people may find the food a little spicy, so if this is the case please notify your project coordinator! The project can cater for vegans, vegetarians and those with allergies if informed in advance. Drinking water, coffee and Chinese tea will be provided throughout your stay, but if you wish to purchase soft drinks or alcoholic beverages you will have to do this at the bar at an additional small cost!
The work required during this project is not overly-exerting, but it is advised that all participants have a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team.
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 is a sanctuary, you are able to work with pandas all year round; however, there are different events during the year which make them more popular than others.
March to May is panda mating season, during this time pandas may be moved in order to do mating research. Volunteers that are here during this time may be able to help the keepers move the pandas or carry the cages. Unfortunately, due to strict regulation and security conditions from the panda base, volunteers are not allowed to take part in the actual mating research.
June to August is the high season for the panda base with volunteer numbers reaching the maximum number of around 30. This is a good opportunity for volunteers to make friends from all over the world and the weather is also very nice around this time of year. One other big potential bonus is that you may have the opportunity to see panda cubs. Volunteering during this time requires early booking as spaces do fill up fast.
November to February is the winter time in the panda base and it can get rather cold. It is not all bad news however as due to this we often have fewer volunteers which means you are able to spend more time with pandas.
You will need to arrive into Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on the start date of your project (a Sunday) between 8am and 6pm and you will be transferred to the Mrs Panda Hostel to begin your adventure. Pick up is at the McDonalds café, and after this your volunteer coordinator will accompany you via an airport bus to the hostel. Chengdu can be reached via a number of larger international airports. If you arrive a day before you are free to make your way to the Mrs Panda Hostel, but please inform us of this before you depart.
you would like help booking your flights, please visit our
flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team
will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
Most nationalities need a visa to enter China and the cost of an entry visa for a British Citizen is around £150. You will need to apply for this via your local Chinese embassy, and a visa normally takes around 4 working days to process. Please check your respective countries Chinese embassy website to see your requirements.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in China is the Chinese Yan Renminbi. The exchange rate is around 1CNY = 0.1 GBP, 0.14 USD, 0.13 EUR. For up to date rates please click here.
What’s included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project staff
- 3 meals a day at the panda sanctuary
- Tea, coffee and water
- Laundry facilities (with a small fee)
- Internet access in public areas
What’s not included?
- All flights
- Visa costs
- Food on the first night of your stay
- Any extra excursions
- Alcohol, snacks and personal items