Southeast Asia

Animal Conservation



Southeast Asia

Animal Conservation

Not the program for you?

Go back to see other programs

  • Volunteer at a wildlife rescue centre where we will learn about the efforts of rehabilitating over 400 animals and assist in their day-to-day care.
  • Embrace the chaos and complexity of modern Bangkok, from its ornate temples to the mouth-watering cuisine!
  • Dive deep into the Cambodian countryside as we help to build a permaculture centre designed for local farmers who are combatting drought and promoting sustainable agricultural practice.
  • Travel back in time exploring an 800-year old temple complex from the Angkor Empire that is now hosted by a community-based tourism initiative.

Program Dates

January 4 – February 12


May 23 – July 1
July 11 – August 19

Program Fee + Community Contribution  

$3,230 + $750
$2,935 + $615

Share this program

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in the Big Mango

Following airport pickups, the group will be introduced to Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok. In a citywide scavenger hunt we’ll be introduced to the sights, sounds, and tastes of this modern yet distinctively Thai city. We’ll visit some of the city’s most beautiful temples but also spend time in the slum of Khlong Toei where we’ll witness some of Bangkok’s harsher realities. Along the way, we’ll learn a bit of Thai from some of the coolest kids in town as we visit a great local NGO.

Wildlife Rescue Centre at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Out of the concrete jungle and into the real, lush one! We will take a short bus ride down south to visit the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) where we will spend time volunteering at their wildlife rescue centre. We’ll be learning about the efforts of rehabilitating and caring for over 400 animals which have been rescued from horrible conditions. These include gibbons, slow lorises, macaques, Asiatic Black Bears, Sun Bears, small cats, birds, reptiles, and many other species. We will be volunteering for the animals and helping the WFFT staff provide care by preparing food, cleaning enclosures, and other day-to-day necessities.

And yes! We may even visit WFFT’s elephant sanctuary and get to know these gentle giants!

Natural Beauty in Pang Sida National Park

We continue to immerse ourselves in Thailand’s natural beauty with a visit to Pang Sida National Park. Considered a part of the Dong Phayayen Forest Complex, one of the largest intact monsoon forests remaining in mainland Asia, Pang Sida National Park has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to take in the lush jungle mountains complete with valley, cliffs, grasslands, and some of the most immaculate waterfalls!

Temples and Responsible Tourism in Banteay Chhmar

After our time in Thailand, we’ll head straight into the Cambodian countryside to the village of Banteay Chhmar. We’ll be spending valuable time with our friends at the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) Initiative – a local cooperative organization dedicated to preserving a massive 800-year old temple complex located in the vicinity of the village, as well as developing a sustainable local tourism economy. We will broaden our perspective and understanding of what alternative tourism really means, how it compares to mainstream tourism, and how the two differ in its effects on local communities.


Bike rides to remote temples hidden in the forest, fishing for our own lunch, learning about farming in Cambodia, and delicious home-cooked Khmer meals are just some of the other things to look forward to!

Down and Dirty in Battambang
Our team will then head over to Battambang for a night’s rest before heading further south. Amidst rice fields and villages, we’ll head over to the Teuk Poh Permaculture Education Farm to join Cambodia’s permaculture action team – a group of dedicated activists promoting sustainable farming practices in marginalized communities around the country.


Our team has previously built fences, dug ponds, created gardens, and planted veggies, fruits, and trees. The aim of the project is to introduce us to the amazing world of permaculture and also to get our hands dirty making improvements to this farm that is visited by hundreds of farmers year round.


We’ll be sleeping in hammocks, eating out of palm leaves, and spending evenings by the fire listening to Khmer folktales. We’ll be stripped down to basics, and by doing so, have an opportunity to truly connect with the community!

Independent Travel Time

A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but we encourage everyone to travel in pairs or small groups. This is the ideal time to learn more about your specific interests, volunteering, travelling, or just relaxing. Southeast Asia is bursting with gems! From the pristine beaches of southern Thailand to the ancient temples of the mighty Angkor Empire, from hiking into the territory of the northern hill tribes in Chiang Rai to the unreal views of Ha Long Bay, there’s no shortage of things to do here!


**Please note that you are not under the auspices of the organized program during ITT. Team members will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice.

Disorientation – Amphawa

Our group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. This will likely take place in Bangkok or in Amphawa, a quiet and scenic town close to Bangkok famous for its trendy floating market. The perfect spot to unwind and take it slow, this beautiful setting is the spot where we’ll re-live memories of the program, recap the lessons that we’ve learned, discuss how to stay connected, and collaborate on projects in the future.


Then off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes!

Scroll below for more program details

What’s Included?


A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region


Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day


All lodging and accommodations throughout the program


Three local meals a day


All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions


All group transportation on the ground


Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience


Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Explore and get lost in the mystic and majestic ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Hike into the territory of the northern hill tribes and explore the famous night markets in Chiang Mai.
  • Take the epic bus ride from Saigon to Hanoi or visit Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of southern Thailand and relish in the stunning landscapes these islands have to offer.


With OG, you live like the locals.

Traveling as much as we do on the Southeast Asia program, there are a number of different styles of accommodation. In cities, we stay at clean, safe, and secure guesthouses. When we’re out in rural communities, local families will host us in their homes and we might just sleep under the stars for a few nights (with mosquito nets of course)! Being welcomed by local families is an incredible way for the team to integrate within the communities we visit. Cold bucket showers are common and continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to better connect with locals and their culture.

Meet Your Program Leaders


A recent graduate of English Lit, Art History, and French Language at McGill University, Maija is overwhelmingly excited to begin working with OG on this SEA Animal Conservation program. From the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia to the lush rainforests of Monte Verde, Costa Rica, Maija is a travel enthusiast and heat seaker from way back. As her family decided living in Canada was the way to go, she realized early on that the only way to stay warm was to travel, and from here, her whole world opened up. She has since volunteered for CANFAR, an HIV/AIDS awareness and research group, taught at a Toronto farm camp, and cooked for a local refugee house.
Maija is interested in people and stories – in how someone’s story can surprise, humble, excite, challenge, and inspire. This interest to learn and connect, plus her… lets say…dramatic personality, always lead her straight into theatre groups as a kid.
She’s always down for a game of footie, a delicious meal, a good coversation, a hug, and/or a bucket of ice cream. Yes, a bucket.


Mike first discovered the wild and wondrous world of OG through a dear friend (thanks Aggs!), and several years later, is more in love than ever! This will be his third year leading programs, and he is incredibly excited to be leading alongside Maija. His travels have brought him through much of South Eastern Africa, Asia, India, both coasts of Canada, and the Caribbean. From volunteering with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project to trekking through the Himalayas, he has been very lucky to be able to explore the world! While not travelling, he studied at the University of Toronto, volunteered with a number of environmental organisations, played and coached with the Varsity Blues Badminton team, built and rode countless bicycles, and just recently started to cook in a professional kitchen. Obsessed with food and music, these two pursuits have brought him a great amount of joy in life and continue to do so.

If Not Now, Then When?

The world is changing. Help change it for the better.
Join the growing community of ethical travellers.