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Save Elephant Foundation - Surin Project
Review Highlights
majestic animals

It is worth going. to be with elephants. touch one. It is an experience. There is plenty of... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
Leelee C
the world
Two faces of Surin

I stayed for a week with Save the Elephants Surin Project. We fed the elephants, bathed them... read more

Reviewed 4 weeks ago
Sidcup, United Kingdom
via mobile
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Reviewed 7 August 2016 via mobile

Ive stayed here for two weeks and had the most amazing time! Joe and ocha who run the project are amazing, they go out of their way for you, the local tribe who you work with are all great fun and have such a beautiful bond with their elephants. Its a whole new world here where you can see just how much love and devotion they give their animals, although I must tell you that the project can be very misleading, we were told there was only 12 people housed at the project at one time, this may be true but a local camp called 'camp thailand' with about 20 members come and intrude on all the activities, you are left waiting at the back for your chance to feed and interact with the elephants as they hoard round taking selfies, my up close and personal experience became me practically queuing for a chance to say hi!although some weeks are different so make sure to query the schedule for the week you want to book! Also, there are many wild dogs round the campsite, while most of them are so friendly and protect you when you walk around the camp, this detail was left out of the information, luckily I love dogs and was smart enough to get my rabies jabs before hand, I trust the dogs that hang around here but dont forget they are wild animals! There are also a LOT of mosquitos (I am aware its rainy season so there are more than normal) I'm not a rural girl at heart at all! So this has been difficult for me, so I feel I must warn you that the mosquitos are relentless! All day and all night! Make sure you come prepared!! We were recommended malaria tablets and I am very glad I listened, because I'm also allergic to the strain of mosquitos over here. Fantastic news! The mosquito nets provided in our hut weren't in great condition, luckily the previous occupants had covered most of the holes with plasters. Still I was being bitten to death in the night even with bug spray on and a mosquito repellant incense for the room, which also brings me to the fact that you must be prepared to live a very basic lifestyle here! Our hut has gaps between the slats meaning it isn't bug proof in the slightest and we literally have a mattress on the floor, VERY basic. The toilet is in a separate building next to your hut which consists of a toilet and two barrels of water with a jug in each, you have to flush the toilet by pouring the water from the barrels into the toilet, and you shower with the jugs also, like I said I am not used to this way of life so I did struggle at first, this could be my own fault for maybe not doing enough research but it was a shock to the system when I arrived! The tasks and jobs given out are fun and hard work, you dont do them for long as they are very understanding that you wont be used to working manually in this heat for long, but the experience is amazing, to help care for the elephants by cleaning the shelters and collecting the food and chopping sugarcane is an experience I will treasure forever, and exactly what I wanted from this time at the project, overall I would say its been absolutely brilliant and breathtaking, to play with the baby elephants, to walk next to such beautiful creatures and watch their relationship with the mahouts is something else! A real worthwhile adventure and something I am proud to say ive done! The food is amazing and no hidden costs, unlike some of the other companies that advertise the same type of experience, this place cares for you fully, ive had some bad experiences with mosquito bites in my time here and they have gone out of their way to take me to the health clinic in the free time we get during the day. Apart from a few things that weren't fully clear, I am so happy with the time ive spent here, its been a real eye opener and something I will keep close to my heart for a long time, but if I do anything like this again I now know what to expect!

Date of experience: August 2016
8  Thank NoseyRosey94
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 July 2016 via mobile

Save Elephant foundation has good intentions with this project. The idea is simple, convince a small group of mahouts to give their elephants a better quality of life. The mahouts are not allowed to use bull hooks, the elephants aren't participating in the circus or chained all day. The incentive for the volunteers is to spend some time with the elephants free of captivity, but these elephants are still forced to engage in unnatural behaviors for our entertainment. Perhaps some volunteers are uninformed, but having the elephants snort on command and splash you with water is the type of tricks where elephants at other centers have been mistreated. Overall, I would have preferred to go to a place where the elephants are bathing out of their own leisure, not so the volunteers can brush them.

Date of experience: July 2016
2  Thank Andres S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 May 2016

If you travel to Thailand, be sure to plan for a volunteer vacation at one of the elephant refuges. I spent a week at the Surin project. Our days involved morning chores (cleaning elephant shelters, cutting sugar cane, depositing old sugar cane in the field) and walks with the elephants, walks to the river to bathe and scrub the elephants, getting to know the staff and the mahouts and the camaraderie of the volunteers and just some of the things to list. You learn about the plight of the Asian elephant and the efforts made by so many to rescue them from the abusive practices and tourist activities that they are forced into. You must spend at least a week at the project to really get to benefit from the experience. Many volunteers stay longer. It's nice knowing that what you pay to stay there goes straight to support the mahouts and their families and allows this group of elephants to live in a non-abusive, caring environment.

Date of experience: March 2016
3  Thank maps5854
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2016

I went to the surin project this past april......26 years old, solo traveling female and my god it was amazing!!! It's an experience difficult to put into words. Everyday you spend time with the elephants and their handlers. Walking them, feeding them, bathing them, playing with them. But it is SO much more than just the elephants. You become a part of a community. Luxuries aren't even missed because every day is so fun filled. Ocha the coordinator and Prom the volunteer guide were amazing. Everyday you got 3 delicious meals, and boy do you eat until your full! Rations are not slim here! You had chores to do in the morning,and sometimes again in the afternoon between hanging with elephants. but they were your normal boring chores. Because you learned something! We cut bamboo and sugarcane for the elephants, made benches, raked up the enclosures, once to twice a week you had to clean the shelters but it wasn't bad at all! in general chores were less than an hour.

For those of you who like to let loose and have some drinks (like myself) there is a local market that sells beer and whiskey. we all had drinks at night to relax and have fun. Restaurants also offer beer. They make it seem like your not allowed to drink on the website, but when i was there they were totally fine with it. Just be respectful.

The elephant handlers are so light hearted and fun! I have so much respect for them. They are taking a huge pay cut to have their elephant part of the project rather than peddling it for cash, and its because like us, they care about their elephants.

I stayed for 10 days. Although i signed up for 2 weeks, i left the project early to go travel the islands before i had to go home. They were so accommodating giving me get the airport!. Of course i teared up leaving, but i knew that one day i will be back!

You will meet everlasting friends at this project and have memories to share for the rest of your life. Do yourself a favor and book this project!!!

Date of experience: April 2016
2  Thank mary d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2016

I got the opportunity to spend a week at the Surin Project and it was an amazing experience. It was so incredible to walk with the elephants everyday and see them in there natural habitat. You get to see the bond that mahouts have with there elephants and how much they care for them. Surin Project is fighting for change in this community and I am so happy that I got to be a part of it for a week. I can't wait to go back and see how they have progressed in a year or so.

Date of experience: March 2016
Thank Alice4242
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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