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Elephant Conservation Volunteer Program in Nepal

Elephant Conservation Volunteer Program in Nepal

Protect & preserve elephant populations
Start dates
Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Local hotel
Program fees
From $475 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Active volunteers who love animals and want to be part of a conservation project that genuinely cares for the wellbeing of elephants. No experience is needed as you’ll be working closely with placement staff.

Project details

Are you interested in volunteering your time and effort to protect elephants? International Volunteer HQ’s Elephant Conservation project gives you the opportunity to support a local elephant sanctuary in Chitwan. Elephant Conservation volunteers will assist local caretakers look after rescued, neglected, old and sick/injured elephants. Volunteers who are practicing vets or veterinary students may also have the opportunity to assist with medical treatments and minor surgeries.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

As a volunteer on the Elephant Conservation project, you will be helping local veterinarians and staff ensure the wellbeing of the animals in their care is the best. Located on the outskirts of Chitwan National Park, the elephant sanctuary takes in elephants that have medical issues and require care.

The elephants move freely around and they have a big barn where they sleep at night and can rest during the day. The elephants have free time to do what they want and can go with local staff to graze and eat in the jungle.

On this project, the main role of volunteers is to provide exceptional care to the elephants who have been given a second chance to live. Before coming to the sanctuary, elephants who require medical care are generally considered ‘worthless’ by their owners who only use them to make money for elephant rides. The sanctuary offers to purchase the elephants and they are then placed in the sanctuary to live out their days in a safe and comfortable environment.

Your main role on the Elephant Conservation project will be supporting the staff at the sanctuary in providing care to rescued elephants. The tasks may include:

  • Cleaning the barn and the land where the elephants live
  • Cutting and preparing the elephants’ food
  • Planting the food for the elephants’
  • Help with a variety of building projects on site

As you will be working closely alongside the staff at the shelter, you are not required to have any qualifications to join this project; however, it is a great chance for volunteers within the animal care or veterinary field to gain hands-on experience and offer their skills.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface and around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Nature is critical to our survival. We must promote kindness to animals and use regenerative techniques to combat deforestation, conserve biodiversity and protect wildlife.

Why do Elephant Conservation volunteering in Nepal with IVHQ?

When you volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Nepal, you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping care for abandoned elephants
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining experience caring for elephants
  • Exploring Nepal’s beautiful Chitwan National Park

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

Not sure which program to join?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Peter Medawar
10 Jul 2024

My advice? Don't hesitant! If you can, go. My personal interest was in learning about elephants and about Nepal, and I feel I learned a lot for two weeks. I was very grateful for the organisation and the friendliness of the staff, and I will never forget my moments of 'connection' with the elephants. They are amazing beasts.

Romalyn Martinez
27 Jun 2024

I have a deeper appreciation of people's efforts and hardwork behind environmental/wildlife conservation efforts and feel more grounded and connected to nature. Just do it.

Ada Mok
23 May 2024

The local team was excellent - everyone was organized and clear about everything that was needed. Being a small part of the elephant sanctuary was incredible. All of the family and staff were wonderful and warm. This was such a precious experience and one I will cherish forever. I miss it all and want to return!

Hannah De Boer
11 Apr 2024

I've definitely grown a lot as an individual. This was my first solo destination and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m so grateful that I was able to help out, it truly was an honor to have assisted the sanctuary and worked to help care for such incredible animals. If someone was hesitant I would just say go for it, but know that there will probably be times that you are going to feel nervous and maybe out of your comfort zone, but that there are always people around to help you.

Alex Morris
20 Mar 2024

Very well organised and great communication with my IVHQ Program Manager. The team in Nepal and in Chitwan were terrific. It was great to work with the elephants daily: hard work, early mornings, long days but with a break during the day. Great to work with the Mahouts and a very humbling experience. Highly recommend.

Dawn Douglas
15 Feb 2024

I think the online resources were very thorough in preparing for my trip, and my IVHQ Program Manager was always easy to communicate with to get questions answered.

The local team were always available to answer questions and assist with travel between locations. They even went above and beyond to make sure my last day and departure went okay.

It was a lifelong dream fulfilled to work with elephants and it was even better than I imagined it would be. I feel that I was able to make an impact by sharing the conservation message and what I learned with my friends and followers back in the US, and I feel like I made a difference in the local community by being a part of the program and shopping local. Don't hesitate to go! You may experience normal difficulties of traveling and being in a different country, but the experience on the program is well worth any inconveniences.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Nepal with IVHQ


Land-locked in the middle of South Asia, Nepal is known for its astonishing alpine scenery and breathtaking mountainscapes. But this diverse country offers much more than its remarkable natural environment. Among Nepal’s 28 million people, there are more than 100 different ethnic groups speaking as many languages and following a large number of religious and cultural traditions. It also faces the challenges associated with a history of civil war, natural disasters, political corruption and a lack of resources and infrastructure to support its population.

Volunteers can have a meaningful impact on Nepalese communities by providing assistance with a wide range of activities that help make life, and the future, better for local people. IVHQ has a number of volunteer projects in Nepal. Some are located on the outskirts of the capital city of Kathmandu in rural and urban areas, while others are in Chitwan 150 kilometres away, in the middle of Terrai - a flat fertile plain that borders India and stretches right across Southern Nepal. Pokhara is located in mid-western Nepal and is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its amazing mountain views.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Kathmandu on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kathmandu. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Nepal prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up at a prearranged destination in Kathmandu on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Nepal team in Kathmandu and runs over the course of two days. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Nepal – an introduction to Nepal, Nepalese customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Nepal, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to visit local temples, sample authentic Nepali food, meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

If you are placed in Pokhara or Chitwan, you will travel to your placement location on Tuesday afternoon and you will begin work on Wednesday. If you are located in Kathmandu, you will begin work on Wednesday.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day:

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


While a volunteer daily schedule will vary depending on the specific placement, a typical day is as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the homestay.
8:00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. There is usually a tea break and a lunch break.
2:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house, go sightseeing, or do some shopping.
7:00 - 9:00 PM Dinner at the homestay.


During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local town and Nepal. Known for being home to the world’s tallest mountain, Mt Everest, Nepal is an adventurer’s paradise. It has a vast selection of exceptional hikes in the Himalayas with arresting views in every direction, white-water rafting, canyon swings, paragliding and scenic flights. It also has a rich multicultural heritage and a huge collection of temples, pagodas, shrines, carvings and ancient architecture, not to mention an astonishing array of wildlife and an interesting cuisine influenced by its many ethnic groups and cultures.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Elephant Conservation project are accommodated in a local hotel that is close to the placement for the whole duration of their volunteer program.

Please note that you should expect to share a room with up to one other volunteer, of the same gender.


The staple meal for most Nepali families is dal bhat, which consists of lentil soup (dal), rice (bhat) and vegetables in curry (tarkari) and/or meat (masu) with a side of pickle/sauce (achar).

Food in Nepal is heavily influenced by the country’s Indian and Tibetan neighbours and includes plenty of curries, breads and potato-based dishes. Volunteers are served two meals per day at their homestay and can purchase additional food to supplement this if they wish.

Bottled water is readily available in Nepal and volunteers should budget approximately $5 per week for two liters a day. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but there is a need to be flexible.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately $329) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $475 Equivalent to $68/day
2 weeks $950 Equivalent to $68/day
3 weeks $1,370 Equivalent to $65/day
4 weeks $1,790 Equivalent to $64/day
5 weeks $2,210 Equivalent to $63/day
6 weeks $2,630 Equivalent to $63/day
8 weeks $3,470 Equivalent to $62/day
10 weeks $4,310 Equivalent to $62/day
12 weeks $5,150 Equivalent to $61/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Nepal generally find US$45 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches, transportation and local tours & activities.
  • Daily breakfast and dinners
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Daily lunches
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Nepal

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Nepal! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Nepal program.

Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)
Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)

Embark on an unforgettable jungle safari to witness Nepal’s captivating wildlife in its natural habitat.

Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)
Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)

This iconic expedition is the most popular trekking route in the Himalayas and is unlike any other in the world.

Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)
Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)

Reconnect with tranquility and mindfulness during a rejuvenating one-week yoga and meditation retreat, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the Western world.


Check what's required to visit Nepal

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Kathmandu
Population 28 million
Languages Nepali
Currency Rupee (NRs.)
Time zone UTC+05:45

Weather and climate: The climate in Nepal varies largely due to the variations in geography across the country. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons with dry weather and moderate temperatures. The Kathmandu Valley and other areas of high altitude experience summer temperatures of up to 28°C (82.4°F) and in winter, temperatures range between 2°C (35.6°F) and 20°C (68°F). The summer temperatures in Chitwan can reach up to 35°C (95°F) and in winter they range between 7°C (44.6°F) and a mild 23°C (73.4°F). The climate in Pokhara is similar to that of the Kathmandu Valley, with slightly warmer temperatures.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

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