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 see for yourself the important work happening here. After this, head out on a walking tour of this incredible city, taking in sights such as Tianfu Square, People's Park and Kuan-zhai Alley so be sure have your camera at the ready!
Pandas are extremely hungry animals and at the reserve they eat 4 times a day, this means that volunteers are needed to help prepare a wide variety of food for the bears including apples, bamboo or even panda cake! Feeding tasks are assigned by the keepers. Volunteers assist the keepers in feeding the pandas and usually have the incredible opportunity to hand feed them through their enclosures.
Occasionally volunteers help conduct research into the pandas behaviours and medical health. Allowing the teams at the reserve to learn more about the endangered species. With 40 pandas at the reserve, volunteer help is crucial in extending knowledge about the giant panda, ensuring that the population of these bears are stable enough to survive out in the wild.
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!
During your stay you’ll have the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in Chinese culture. You will have the chance to learn the Chinese language and partake in Chinese calligraphy lessons. You can also take part in paper craft, dumpling making, playing the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, and more!
Exploring The Reserve
As a volunteer on this project you will have full access to all parts of the Bifengxia reserve. In your free time you will be able to visit the nursery where any young pandas, that were abandoned by their mothers, are homed. You can also visit the animal rescue centre, the educational facilities and much more. Make sure to pack your camera!
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. 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 breakfast at 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, visiting Tianfu Square, People's Park, and Kuan-zhai 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 Reserve:
It is an early start today as you and your fellow volunteers will meet at 6:15am to transfer to the Bifengxia Panda Reserve. This journey takes approx 3 hours by public bus. Upon arriving you will enjoy lunch at the Panda Reserve Hostel and after volunteers will receive orientation. With registration you will receive your project uniform and form working groups. Then it’s time for dinner and an optional Chinese lesson!
Day 4 - Project Work Begins:
Today is the day you begin your volunteering experience and will meet the pandas for the first time. After breakfast you will head over to the area of the panda reserve to which you have been assigned and will begin your tasks which could include anything from making panda cake through to cleaning the cages. This evening consists of free time and optional lesson in dumpling making, alongside another delicious meal for dinner.
Day 5 - Project Work & Chinese Lessons:
Volunteers start the day right with breakfast. If there are ten or more volunteers at the centre 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! After your lunch you'll return to the pandas and help to feed them once again. Remember they are hungry animals! Complete the day with dinner and the option of learning Chinese calligraphy or playing the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong!
Day 6 - Project Work & Free Time:
Today if there’s 10+ participants the volunteers will support the staff in planting bamboo, if not volunteers will prepare food for the Pandas and feed them. You will take part in the same activities as the previous days. After you will have the chance to spend time with the other volunteers or further explore the panda reserve if you wish, this is a good time to check out all of the 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. After dinner you have the option to enjoy a taste of Chinese cinema.
Day 7 - Head Back To Chengdu:
Today 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 reserve 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.
Select a duration below to see the project start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
(Please note, the maximum age for joining this project is 60 years old)
Updates & Outcomes
The Bifengxia Panda Reserve is the largest for panda conservation in the whole of China, but the reserve 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 Reserve where over 100 pandas were located, and as a result a large number of the bears were moved to the Bifengxia site. 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!
In need of a little pick-me-up? Check out these gorgeous photos taken by the talented Ami Vitale (National Geographic) at the Panda Volunteer Experience in China! Don't forget that you can volunteer with pandas by heading to our project page now!
March 16th is National Panda Day, so learn more about this adorable yet threatened species by reading our blog!
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!
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. When you arrive at the Bifengxia reserve you will be staying in a comfortable and recently renovated hostel. At this hostel you will be staying in twin share rooms. You will also have access to a common room which is popular for movie nights! It may be possible to upgrade rooms, both at the Chengdu hostel and at the reserve. 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 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 volunteer with pandas all year round; however, there are different events during the year which make some months more popular than others.
March to May is panda mating season, during this time pandas may be moved for mating research purposes. Volunteers that are here during this time may be able to help the keepers move the pandas or carry the cages. 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 reserve with volunteer numbers reaching the maximum of around 30 people. This is a good opportunity for volunteers to make friends from all over the world and the weather is very nice around this time of year. One other 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 winter time 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 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.
When leaving the project please do not book flights before 2pm, as you will not arrive back from panda reserve until 12pm on your last day.
If 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, 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 (food on your first night is not covered)
- Tea, coffee and water
- Tour around the vibrant city of Chengdu
- Chinese language and calligraphy lessons
What’s not included?
- All flights
- Visa costs
- CRB/DBS check (this is required)
- Alcohol, snacks and personal items