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CHINA

PANDA CONSERVATION IN CHENGDU IN CHINA

Chubby black and white cute bears, chewing on bamboo, peaceful yet playful at times, it’s hard not to be charmed by the Giant Panda! Volunteer in the largest Panda base in China helping to protect and build a safe environment for the Giant Panda.

There are only 1,600 left and they are listed as the most endangered species in the world, making this experience a true once in a lifetime opportunity. The focus here is on protecting and building a safe environment. The Project is located near the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddha.

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price:

£995 (approx. US$1,290) for 1 week
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & prices in other currencies
Duration: Projects are a fixed length of 1 week. Longer projects are not available.
Start Dates: Available all year round. Programmes start every Sunday.
Requirements: No qualifications or experience required, just lots of enthusiasm and a love of animals. Minimum age 16, or minimum age 12 if accompanied by parent or guardian.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation
Food
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Return transfer to the airport
Daily transport to and from your project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required).
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities. Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas. Good if you want to learn about rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife and doing panda voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement in China or a short break activity.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your work is contributing to wildlife conservation.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
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Panda drinking water on the Panda Conservation project
A cute panda having a drink at the pool in one of the enclosures.
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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

You’ll be joining us at the Bifengxia Giant Panda base, a branch of the China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda and one of the largest of its kind. It started working in 2003 and suddenly grew in 2008 when Pandas were relocated here from Wolong Panda base, which was devastated in an earthquake that year.

But since this move, the panda population here has more than doubled - which is an amazing achievement. A big share of pandas which you see anywhere in the world has originally come from this panda reserve! The panda base is now looking to releasing the panda into the wild, fulfilling its long term ambition.

Get up close and personal, with both baby pandas who weigh only 100 grams at birth and gradually develop to 60lbs in their second year of life and their far larger parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs.

Your duties may vary depending on what is required of you at the time, so flexibility is essential. You will be involved in working about 4-6 hours a day side by side with panda caretakers by preparing food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, carrots – and of course their favourite – bamboo, providing them with food you have put together, cleaning their enclosures and ensuring they are secure in their environment.

The keepers usually feed the Panda twice in the afternoon. However, this would depend on the individual condition of each Giant Panda and also other circumstances. We cannot guarantee the feeding times and also cannot ensure that every participant would be able to feed a Panda. Feeding tasks are assigned exclusively by the keepers.

Occasionally, you might also be asked to conduct some research of the panda’s habits and medical health so that we may extend our knowledge and experience in caring for this highly endangered species.

    You’ll be able to see the panda nursery (approx. July to September), animal rescue, educational facilities, and much more.

    Additional cultural activities: It's important to remember that Pandas are wild animals and naturally lazy and and will need some time to relax on their own! That’s why we offer plenty of Chinese lessons & cultural activities during their resting times, which you can take part in at your leisure. Some activities that you may take part in are:

    • Chinese language lessons (Daily 16:00-18:00 upon request)
    • Mahjong (Chinese chess)
    • Chinese calligraphy
    • Papercraft
    • Dumpling making
    • And more!

    If you're interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity to learn about the Giant Panda, something that is unique to China. A typical programme is as follows, but this will vary from week to week and season to season.

    Sunday:
    You will be collected from Chengdu airport and transferred to the city where you will stay for two nights.

    Monday:
    Breakfast
    Visit Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Center
    Lunch
    A walking tour through the Chengdu City, visit the Tianfu Square, People’s park and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley
    Welcome Dinner at a local hotpot restaurant.

    Tuesday:
    Breakfast
    Transfer to the Panda reserve (approx. 3 hours by public bus)
    Lunch at the Panda Reserve Hostel
    Orientation: Meet the team of the Panda Reserve and introduce yourself. Understand the rules and regulations, Read and sign the security agreements, watch a safety training video. Get the working manuals and assignments as well as information about the tasks you will carry out during the next days.
    Registration is followed by the issue of uniforms, participant card etc. You'll form working groups. Each group will then elect a ‘Group Leader’.
    Dinner
    Chinese lesson (optional)

    Wednesday – Panda Reserve:
    08:00: Breakfast
    08:40- 12:00: Meet at the Gate of the Panda base at 8:40. A staff member will lead your group to your respective places of work. You should finish your tasks under the Panda keepers’ guidance, such as cleaning the Panda house and feeding the Panda. Tasks are decided on by the Panda keepers. During the break, you should fill in the form “My Panda and I”.
    12:00 - 14:00: After completing the morning tasks, meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the Canteen for Lunch. After Lunch, you will return to the participant service center. You can take a rest or choose to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
    14:00 – 15:00: Split into groups and make Panda cake in turns. Panda cake is a form of food for Pandas prepared from fresh ingredients.
    15:00 – 16:00: Free time, you can proceed to complete the assignments if any or assist the staff if required.
    16:00: Finish your tasks for the day and have free time
    17:00 – 18:00: Free time or join in to making dumplings. Learn the secret behind tasty Chinese dumplings.
    18:00: Dinner
    19:00: Free time. Optionally you can watch some “Panda Videos” or take a rest.

    Thursdau – Panda Reserve:
    08:00: Breakfast
    09:00-12:00: If there are 10 or more volunteers: Support the Panda reserve staff in simple research activities. These vary depending on need. If there are less than 10 participants: Prepare food for the Pandas and feed them.
    12:00-13:30: A short break, then meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the canteen for lunch. Post Lunch, return to the service center and choose to take rest or continue to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
    13:30-16:00: Return to where you worked the day before and feed the Panda under the keepers’ guidance. During the break you'll complete the “My Panda and I” form and any other related assignments.
    16:00: Complete your tasks for the day
    17:00 – 18:00: Free time or join our Chinese Calligraphy lessons. Learn the technique of drawing beautiful Chinese characters on paper.
    18:00: Dinner
    19:00: Free time or you can spend your evening learning how to play Mahjong and have fun challenging your opponents. There is no doubt that once you get hooked on Mahjong it’s difficult to let go of it!

    Thursdau – Panda Reserve:
    09:00-12:00: If there are 10 or more volunteers: The Giant Pandas eats between 10 and 20 kilos of bamboo per day. Support the staff to plant more of it to ensure there’s enough food. If there are less than 10 volunteers: Prepare food for the Pandas and feed them.
    12:00-13:30: A short break, then meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the canteen for lunch. Post lunch, return to the service center and choose to take rest or continue to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
    13:30-15:00: Return to where you worked the day before and feed the Panda under the keepers’ guidance.
    15:00 – 16:00: Your time at the Panda base is over. Return your work uniform, participant card and gloves and also submit the "My panda and I" form.
    Summary meeting: Share your work experience with the others. Thereafter, the staff will issue certificates to everybody. Later, you can leave a message on the “Love wall”. All the participants and staff take a photo in front of the service center. Later the photo will be sent to you by email.
    17:00: Free time. Optionally we arrange a visit to a local temple (Bifeng Temple). If you need to return to Chengdu early, e.g. for catching your flight on Saturday morning, now is the time. Our coordinator can help arrange your bus and a hostel in Chengdu.
    18:00: Dinner
    19:00: You can choose to end your last day of stay at the Panda Base with a taste of Chinese cinema, watch a Chinese movie together at the activity room. Or you can choose to pack your things and get enough rest before your return journey.

    Friday – Chengdu:
    After breakfast around 8:30 you will be transferred to Chengdu city or airport. You'll arrive at the airport around noon.

    If this is the last week of your program (around Chengdu), it’s time for you to say goodbye. Otherwise, you'll stay in Chengdu to connect to your next program.

    If you decide to leave at a different time (maybe because you want to travel further in the region, or your flight is not convenient to this time), you'll need to arrange and pay for different transport.

    PROJECT START DATES:
    Programmes start every Monday, all year round.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN CHINA info@travellersworldwide.com
A group of pandas eating on the conservation project
A heartwarming picture - a group of pandas together all tucking into some grub!
A volunteer feeding one of the Pandas on the conservation project
A volunteer feeding one of the Pandas from the rear section of its enclosure.
A volunteer collects some bamboo for feeding to the Pandas on the conservation project
A volunteer collects some bamboo for feeding to the Pandas later.
Volunteers jump for joy
Jumping for joy!!
Volunteers making Panda cakes on the conservation project
Volunteers making Panda cakes, which is an important part of the Pandas' diet.
Baby Panda sitting with his toys on the conservation Project
An adorable baby Panda sitting in an enclosure surrounded by 'baby' toys.
Learning Chinese
Learning Chinese in an off-duty break while on the Project.
Panda eating
This Panda lookings as though it's really concentrating on what it's eating!
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ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation at Chengdu:
When you arrive, your accommodation for the first two nights will be at Chengdu. Here you'll stay in a hostel room with between 4 and 8 other people. It has a shared bathroom with hot shower.

At the Panda Base:
You'll then be transferred to the Panda Base. The Greenway Centre in the Ya’an Panda base has been chosen to give you a special environment for your visit to China. It is located 1,100 metres above sea-level with an average temperature of 15 degrees. It is perfect for the pandas – and for you!

The Centre is in a pleasant, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, 24-hour hot water and toilets. If you prefer, upgrade options are available (please contact us for further details).

Wi-Fi / Internet: Wifi is available and it's free.

Laundry facilities are available for a small charge (roughly 20 CNY each time). Other facilities include a book cabinet with a few books in different languages. There’s also a small shop where you are able to buy the basics like drinks and snacks.

FOOD:
At the Centre you will be provided with three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. These will be Chinese dishes typical of the local area, comprising mainly rice, noodles and vegetables with some meat.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN CHINA info@travellersworldwide.com
Accommodation on the Panda Conservation project at the Panda Base
A bedroom at the accommodation at the Panda Base.
Accommodation on the Panda Conservation project in Chengdu
One of the bedrooms in the accommodation in Chengdu.
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

ABOUT THE PANDA CONSERVATION CENTRE
The Woolong Nature Reserve was first established in June 1980 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chines Government as a research centre for endangered animals in China. This led to the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in 2004. Since the beginning of this movement, 66 Giant panda cubs have successfully been bred.

The purpose of the Conservation Centre is to increase the numbers of Giant Pandas found in the world and potentially begin to reintroduce them back into the wild. This requires the protection of their natural habitat and their major food source, bamboo.

The Panda centre has established a 90% survival rate for Giant Panda cubs due to its development in raising twin cubs. In nature a Panda is only able to raise and protect one cub at a time. However, with the help of caretakers in the nursery, they are able to leave one cub with the mother to nurse and bond, while another is placed in an incubator and hand-raised. Here Staff will stay with the baby panda for 24 hours a day, every day, for one week and then the cubs are swopped around. This results in both cubs being able to be naturally raised by their mother and receive the care that only she is able to give.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

ARRIVAL AND TRANSPORT TO YOUR PROJECT
Please note that this will vary from week to week and season to season. You'LL fly into Chengdu airport on a Sunday where you will be collected by one of our coordinators. You will then travel to Chengdu City which is approx. 30-40 minutes away where you will spend your first day, giving you time to relax and rest. Monday will be spent touring the city of Chengdu including the local markets, parks and later you will be invited to a welcome dinner.

The following morning you will be transferred to the Panda base which is approx. 3 hours away, where you will have lunch at the panda base with a briefing and introduction to your work content in the afternoon. Registration will also take place, where you will receive your uniform and volunteer card before you will receive a guided tour before dinner.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

WHY IS THE GIANT PANDA ENDANGERED?
Giant Pandas are naturally solitary creatures that move freely from area to area seeking out fresh bamboo (their staple diet), creating avenues in order to come together in spring and mate. This magnificent creature that is known to have survive the ice age, has over the years been faced with great challenges, such as their natural habitat decreasing significantly due to the expansion of humans: the development of new roads, towns and power lines resulting in the need for more logging and thus haltering the natural migration and contributing to the lack of bamboo. (Bamboo requires shade in order to grow.)

This has resulted in Giants Pandas being unable to find new food and thus preventing male and female Giant Pandas from finding one another and being able to mate and increase their numbers in the wild. The 2008 earthquake in China also had a devastating effect on the Giant Pandas' natural habitat and food sources, thus further decreasing the number of Giant Pandas found in the wild.

REQUIREMENTS AND NOTES:
China is still a developing country in a period of transition. The living standard falls short of what we are used to in the West. The Chinese culture and heritage is totally different to Anglo-Saxon or Western cultures. However, the people are very friendly. China is a non-English speaking environment and it would benefit youi to try to learn a few basic Chinese words before starting your programme. This will help you to get involved in the daily life of the local people.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN CHINA info@travellersworldwide.com DOWNLOAD THIS INFORMATION in .pdf How to Fundraise for your Program

ANY QUESTIONS?

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Volunteers in front of one of the temples on the cultural tour.
Volunteers getting together for a night out.
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OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

1-Week China Cultural Immersion Programme

1-WEEK CHINESE CULTURAL IMMERSION PROGRAMME IN FENGYHAN:
1 week of cultural integration into the rich life of China,
Price: £275
, including food and accommodation

Ni Hao and Welcome to China. In this fun-filled 1-week Culture Immersion Programme you'll meet the local people, taste the local cuisine and get familiar with Chinese customs. Your mornings will be spent learning how to speak Chinese and understanding cultural customs before adventuring into the local towns and cities and exploring the streets while socialising with the locals. You have opportunities to visit a Confucius temple and a Guangong temple, local fairs, and some amazing natural scenery sites in groups or individually during free time.

A typical week in the Cultural Immersion Programme is:

  • Monday: Start your day with a typical Chinese breakfast, followed by Chinese language lessons and a tour of Fengyan village, which will include the Old house. After lunch you will learn about Chinese philosophy and what is found Taboo. In the evening you will have the opportunity to visit a local family for a welcome party and learn how to make oil tea.
  • Tuesday: Your second Chinese lesson will follow breakfast and then you will visit Lianhua town where you will register and you can do some shopping. After lunch you will have a culture session about Chinese festivals which will lead onto a late afternoon visit Hongyan village and a climb up one of the mountains and finishing the day with Bamboo rafting.
  • Wednesday: Your morning will be spent studying and participating in Chinese language lessons, Calligraphy and painting, followed by a Chinese culture session focused on the History of China. In the Afternoon you will visit the Confucius and Guangong temples and walk along the Cha river. You won't just look at the Confucius temple, you'll understand what it felt like to be the number one scholar in the Imperial city, to pass the Emperor’s examinations and the path through the temple that only you were allowed to walk. In the evening if you would like, you can join the Gongcheng BBQ.
  • Thursday: Today you are going to learn how to buy and bargain in Chinese, and then visit the Market of Lianhua to buy some food and practice what you have learned. The afternoon will be filled with further culture lesson and an introduction into Chinese cooking, where you will learn how to make Dumplings amoung other things.
  • Friday: This morning not only will you further improve on your Chinese but also learn different Chinese songs. Your final lesson for the day will be the art of paper cutting, which is strong in Chinese culture as paper was originally invented in the Eastern Han Dynasty in the 2nd Century AD. Free time will be given in the afternoon for preparation for your weekend.
  • Saturday and Sunday: You are able to travel freely today and visit Yangshuo and Gongcheng, explore the culture with your newly acquired knowledge in culture and language, or alternatively you can stay at the centre and rest before your next adventure.

Most evenings are spent learning how to play Chinese games like; Mah-jong, Chess or watching Chinese films.

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Help to conserve Pandas in China

1-WEEK PANDA CONSERVATION IN YA'AN, CHENGDU:
Price: £850, including food and accommodation.

Get up close and personal, with both baby pandas who weigh only 100 grams at birth and gradually develop to 60lbs in their second year of life to their far larger parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs. In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population – which is an amazing achievement. The work you'll be able to do will vary depending on what is required at the time upi're there, so flexibility is essential. During your placement your daily activities will include:

  • Cleaning of the Giant Panda enclosures, and the nursery.
  • Preparing the food and feeding the Giant Pandas. 99% of their diet is bamboo, however the balance usually consists of rice gruel, high fibre biscuits, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.
  • You may also be asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, in order to expand the knowledge of how best to care for these highly endangered species.

If you're interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity to learn about the Giant Panda, something that is unique to China. A typical programme is as follows, but this will vary from week to week and season to season.

Sunday:
Pick up from Chengdu airport.
You will be collected from Chengdu airport by one of our English speaking co-ordinators who will transfer you to the city where you will stay for two nights.
Monday:
After a morning's rest, you can take a tour the city of Chengdu including local markets, parks and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley. Visit the Business quarter. Later, join us at the welcome dinner in one of the City’s restaurants.
Tuesday:
Transfer to the Panda Reserve (3 hours by bus). Lunch at the Panda base.
Afternoon briefing and introduction to the work you will be doing.
Also registration (where you will be issued with your uniform, volunteer card etc).
Guided tour of the Panda base and meet the panda keepers whom you will be assisting.
Dinner at the hostel restaurant.
Wednesday – Friday:
For the next 3 days you will work as an assistant to the Panda Keeper. General duties will include cleaning, preparing food, chopping and carrying bamboo.
Saturday:
8:00 am transfer to Chengdu City/airport (arriving Chengdu airport at approximately 11.00 a.m) for your departure. Afternoon flights are recommended.

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Immerse yourself in Chinese Culture
Immerse yourself in Chinese Culture.
Help to conserve Pandas in China
Help to conserve these Pandas in China is unforgettable.
A big grin! A child in the local dress.

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.

SEE ALL PROJECTS IN CHINA info@travellersworldwide.com

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LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

PANDA BASE LOCATION:
The Panda base is in the middle of nature reserve, thus surrounded by tranquillity and peacefulness, with the loudest noises often only being the male pandas' chatter and birds singing in the trees. Often after completing your duties there is a fair amount of free time, as Pandas do also want their own space to be wild animals. So during this time there is a range of activities for you to be able to take part in:

  • Full access to the Panda reserve and volunteer centre
  • The Chinese favourite sports, including: Table tennis, Mah-jong, and Chinese chess
  • Free Chinese language lessons from 4pm -6pm daily
  • You will also have access to the Volunteer Centre – this is a general area where most volunteers will take time to relax, chat or eat ice cream.

On the weekends, you will have time to further explore this beautiful country, with options like:

  • The many walking routes in the reserve. (Guided tours are available around nearby waterfalls)
  • Fishing.
  • Visit the hot springs that are approx. 1 hour away from the Panda base.
  • Explore the city of Ya’an for shopping and general sight seeing
  • Visit the local zoo (10 minutes from the reserve).
  • Visit sites like the Sichuan opera, Jinli night fair or the Tibetan quarter in Chengdu city.
  • Hike to the Emei mountain or mount Oingchent to see the giant Buddha

Your project Coordinator will be able to suggest more options depending on your budget and interests

HIGHLIGHTS IN CHINA: In our opinion, some of the highlights of the rest of China are:

  • The Army of Terracotta Warriors outside Xi’an - 6000 soldiers and horses that were originally designed to guard the tomb of an ancient Emperor. 2000 years old, these warriors were discovered by accident in the 1970s by peasants digging a well! Every figure differs in facial features and expression, and they make for an amazing sight!
  • Tropical Xishuangbanna - China's very own South-East Asia complete with sunshine, Thai style temples, Dai minority dancing and water splashing festivals! Here you can explore tribal villages on the border with Burma, or trek through the rainforest.
  • Northern China, along the path of the ruins of the Great Wall, also has many sights, and a slightly rough-around-the-edges charm. Here, you can visit the Gobi Desert & climb enormous sand dunes in Gansu Province or explore ancient grottoes and caverns full of religious art & Buddha statues at Dunhuang or Datong. You can even spend a night camping out under the stars in a yurt on the epic grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Here you might find yourself taking part in traditional Mongolian wrestling or drinking the local spirit (hopefully not at the same time!)
  • China's big cities - The economic and cultural and centres of this blossoming nation can be found in its 3 big cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. These cities are practically alive with energy and each deserve a visit during your time in China. They represent the glitz and glamour of China's future and everything that's hip in China's new youth, with the rich history of Chinese culture running strongly through them.
  • The far North-West - Xinjiang Province in the far North-West of China next to the borders with Mongolia & Kazakhstan is a multicultural melting pot of Han Chinese, Uyghurs (the local Muslim people) and Kazakhs. Here you can visit Tian Chi, a lake halfway up a mountain inhabited by nomadic Kazakh people or take part in local grape making in the desert around Turpan

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN CHINA info@travellersworldwide.com
Volunteers came to this beautiful waterfall on their explorations.
China is full of colour and this beautiful statue of Buddha is just one example.
Phil Perkes in China
Phil Perkes, Travellers co-founder, and Fergus Kane discovering some of the must-see sights on an inspection trip to China.
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REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

SHARON JOSLING
British
Panda Conservation in China

We start the morning at 8am with breakfast and then start duties at 8.45. First we clean the Panda enclosure and break new bamboo. Then we clean the inside pen. It's dirty sweaty work but worth it with the reward of feeding the pandas at 11.

Lunch is at 12 and then back to the base for breaking more bamboo and feeding at 1.45, we are then free till 3.30 when we feed again. Then dinner is normally at 6. There is a lot of free time to look around the base and see the other pandas.

The hostel isn't the cleanest and the Chinese can be very noisy, so you have to be quite relaxed about everything. The food is great; real Chinese experience 😁.

On arrival at Chengdu Leo was waiting for me as I can through arrivals, there was a lot of people there so I missed him and waited outside McDonald's as per instruction; he found me about 40 mins later, we then took the bus to the hostel in Chengdu, and had quite a walk from the bus to the hostel, we all struggled with our luggage. The hostel was old but really clean and actually very friendly. It's a same we were left to our own devices on Sunday. I managed to find great night Market but the others missed this as there was no time to return and show them the following night. We had a trip to the Panda base in Chengdu and then a walk around town, we went to a tea shop in people's park, the best place was the one I found the previous night: wangfang street.

There is probably more free time than I would have chosen but I am having a great time. Looking forward now to Sri Lanka. Happy to talk to anyone. Best regards, Sharon.

MARI GRIFFITHS
British
Panda Conservation in China

I'm home now and had a wonderful but sometimes challenging time, but I guess that's what it's all about. I would certainly recommend the placement to other volunteers, I think it should be emphasised that it can be hard physical work but only for a short time in the day. A typical day would be:
08.40 prepare panda food. Clean outside areas, remove any uneaten bamboo, sweep tree house, and surrounding grassy areas, this includes removing panda 'waste.' Clean inside enclosures which involves sweeping and hosing down and drying the area. Sweep and clean outside the enclosure, sorting old bamboo from new bamboo and breaking the new bamboo for later feeds.
10.30 rest.
11.30 return to panda base to prepare panda cake, carrot and/or apple.
12.00 Lunch.
13.30 Return to panda base for more feeding.
13.50 explore panda base, visit the babies, go on a trek or visit the kindergarten.
15.30. Return to feed pandas.
16.00 end of working day. Return to hotel.
17.00 Various activities including Chinese lesson or learning to make Chinese dumplings.
18.00 dinner.
19.00 More activities including calligraphy or learning to play mahjong.

I wasn't aware that activities would be arranged for us in Chengdu city. This would have been useful to know as I was considering organising a trip for myself to fill that day. The co-ordinator Stella was exceptional, very helpful and nothing was too much trouble. Taxis were arranged for us at the weekend to go exploring, this was an extra cost which everyone knew. There are no shops near by but you can take a bus to the tourist centre or a taxi into Ya'an city the driver will arrange what time to pick you up.

Chinese culture is very different and instructions were often shouted at us but this is not aggressive or offensive it's just the way things are. Safety of volunteers whilst in contact with the pandas is a priority.

I think this placement is suitable for all people who have a fair level of fitness, as a 60 year old I had no trouble with anything that was asked of me.

BEATRICE KARPAWITZ-GODT
French
Panda Conservation in China

Dear Ivy, I loved the project! I can’t believe how spoilt we were with such high quality food and large comfortable rooms at the Panda base. The coordinators (Jin was my main point of contact) were fantastic! I only wish I had more time as I would have like to have communicated to the management my gratitude for the experience but also my concern about how badly some of the tourists behave taunting the pandas. Other volunteers remarked the same. It wouldn’t take much, just for the keepers to remind the tourists not to shout, bark, throw small objects ...

I still need to fill in my survey but can only thank you for outstanding coordination! I’ve been on several volunteer projects…but here we really were well taken care of. Had I known, I would have spent my extra days at the Panda Base and it was the most enriching experience and such good company with the other volunteers and coordinator(s).

MORE FEEDBACK FROM BEATRICE AT THE END OF HER PROGRAMME:

What was the most memorable or exciting part of your programme?
Being at the Panda base and spending time observing the pandas. It was an amazing experience! I greatly appreciated the time with the pandas and I also appreciated the cultural exposure provided by our onsite coordinator. As far as tips for future volunteers, there was a lot of free time in the evenings...for reading. I would also ask that if they do go, that they make recommendations for the Panda Base to minimize tourist noise and taunting of the pandas. My time was just too short for me to speak with someone in management of the Panda Base.

How would you rate your programme overall?
Excellent. The food was delicious, healthy. I couldn't believe the variety and daily abundance. The lodging was spacious. The coordinator, Jin, was helpful, pleasant and insightful. The pandas were incredible!!

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on.

Best, Beatrice

MARI GRIFFITHS
British
Panda Conservation in China

What was your most memorable moment on the Project? Being able to actually feed the pandas and working with the same panda for the two weeks. It was all such a privilege.

What do you think was your biggest achievement? Working with staff who spoke little English, but still being able to establish a good relationship with them. Also being in a country which was so different to home, learning about their culture and customs and just being with such lovely people.

What positive impact do you think you had on the Projecty? Showing the staff how hard volunteers are prepared to work and adapt to a different way of working.

FIONA
Scottish
Panda Conservation in China

This week has been amazing!! I love the pandas - they are so cute. I can't believe how fast the week has gone though, everybody's so friendly and the pandas can be so funny.

It's a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.

LISA
Norwegian
Panda Conservation in China

I had three amazing weeks at the panda base... an incredible experience. You were able to get to know the different personalities of the pandas you were working with and had access to the whole panda reserve.

LYNN
Swedish
Panda Conservation in China

It has been a most amazing experience. Not just meeting and working with the pandas, but learning about the culture and society of China. The volunteers are friendly and fun to hang out with, so evenings are pretty great.

I think it's fair to say that I've had a few culture shocks, so much here is different from my home in Sweden, but I've had a great time discovering these differences.

I definitely want to come back someday!

ASHIRA
Belgian
Panda Conservation in China

I enjoyed my time at the panda base... having fun with the other volunteers. Although four weeks might seem a long time, it passes quickly. This trip was definitely worth it!

PHOTO GALLERY: Panda Conservation