A wildlife encounter can provide an enriching element to any trip to Southeast Asia, and opportunities abound for animal lovers in this part of the world. These unique experiences give a chance to learn more about some fantastic creatures from the people that work to conserve them.
THAILAND – Elephants
When organised responsibly, visiting elephants and spending time with them can be an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Since 2015, EXO has been stepping up efforts with other operators and animal welfare organisations to improve elephant welfare and to educate and promote best practices. We only recommend camps which reach our robust standard of assessment.
In forested hills, an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai, the Maeklang Elephant Conservation Community provides a home for rescued elephants in their natural habitat – as well as agricultural support and training for local farmers. Visitors can spend the day playing with, feeding and tending to these gentle giants, as well as joining them in a cleansing ‘mud spa’ as they bathe in the Maeklong River. Interact with these beautiful beasts and learn and participate in the centre’s work in protecting the elephants, wildlife and environment.
VIETNAM – Douc Langur
The Son Tra Peninsula – also known as Monkey Mountain – is a perfect place for wildlife exploration. The peninsula acts as a natural shield for the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang and is best known for the world’s largest population of the endangered red-shanked douc langur. With 5 impressive colours these langurs are amongst the most colourful of all primates. For a chance to see these beauties and watch them in their daily activities, take a trip with a wildlife expert, who will also give an insight into the biodiversity conservation activities organized on Son Tra Peninsula. Learn about the impact of human activity to this fragile ecosystem and reach the top of Son Tra mountain to admire the beauty of the surrounding and reflect on the fragility of it all.
LAOS – Moon Bears (Asiatic Black Bears)
Free the Bears provides a sanctuary at Luang Prabang for moon bears, many of whom are rescued from poachers, exotic pet owners, or people planning to use them in traditional medicine. The organization also works to change attitudes and raise awareness of the wildlife trade, and to combat wildlife traders. Learn all about the efforts of Free The Bears sanctuary during a half-day tour and be part of this amazing, responsible experience. Tour areas normally only accessible by staff, learn about how these bears are taken care of, get hands-on in making a snack for them and observe their social behaviour. Meet the whole family of bears and learn about their unique characters and how the sanctuary takes care of them on a daily basis.
MALAYSIA – Orangutans
The Sepilok Orangutan Reserve is an award-winning orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sabah, Borneo. Learn about conservation efforts in Borneo and the aims and achievements of the reserve, and witness feeding time there. Or head to 740 hectares of virgin forest near Kuching, Sarawak, to the Semenggoh Wildlife Center, and catch the opportunity of a lifetime to observe the orangutans at a distance at their feeding platforms.
CHINA – Panda
Pandas have been protected since the 1980s, and since then have increased in number by 50% (there are reckoned to be more than 2000 living in the wild, although it is hard to give an exact figure). At the Dujiangyan Panda Base in Sichuan Province participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a one-day volunteering program. Activities can include assisting the staff in cleaning the enclosures and preparing food for the pandas, visiting the Panda Center of Science and Education, attending panda classes, and planting bamboo and trees. Or visit Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Centre – the largest centre for pandas in the world – which homes just under 100 pandas.
These are just some of the many enriching wildlife experiences which Southeast Asia has to offer. Drop us an enquiry below to start planning your own wild adventure!
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