“Help build a future for giant pandas as a volunteer at a conservation centre in China.”
Based in the beautiful Bifengxia mountains, this incredible project gives you the chance to volunteer with the most iconic of all China’s wildlife: giant pandas. With over 40 pandas resident at the Bifengxia Panda Base, there’s plenty of ongoing jobs to be done – these bears require lots of care and attention! Volunteers play a big part in helping to deliver this care, getting involved with a range of activities at the centre including cleaning out enclosures, conducting scientific research, and even feeding the pandas. The bears eat four times a day, so this is almost a full-time job in itself! When you’re not looking after or watching the pandas, you’ll get to immerse yourself in Chinese culture, learning the language, making dumplings, and getting to grips with the ancient game of Mahjong.
To learn more about volunteering at the centre, read our Editor's Pick!
What We Love
Get your Hands Dirty: Pandas can be pretty demanding, so you’ll need to be prepared for some good, honest hard work. There’s lots of enclosure cleaning to be done, plus bamboo to feed the bears, and even panda cakes to prepare!
Explore the Centre: As a volunteer, you’ll enjoy full access to the whole reserve; visit the playful baby pandas at the nursery, and become a panda expert as you soak up some knowledge at the educational facilities! Just don’t forget to pack your camera…
Absorb the Culture: While you’re in China, be sure to take the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the wonderful culture. Learn Chinese calligraphy, make tasty dumplings, and see if you can become the Mahjong Master!
What makes this experience sustainable?
When an earthquake destroyed the Hetaoping Panda Centre, many of its panda residents were moved to a new location, and the Bifengxia Panda Base was born. Since the move, the panda population at the centre has more than doubled, making Bifengxia Panda Base the largest centre for panda conservation in China. In fact, around 70% of all pandas worldwide have originally come from this reserve! The center’s aims are three-fold: to ensure that their pandas are well cared for, to facilitate the sustainable development of the species, and to protect the genetic variation of the species. On top of this, the centre’s long-term mission is to learn more about pandas, and to educate people about the importance of their conservation.
At the busy centre, volunteers provide valuable hands-on support and help – without them, staff would struggle to keep on top of all the daily jobs like feeding and cleaning. By helping the dedicated team of panda carers with their daily routines, volunteers allow the centre to make progress with its wider aims. Volunteers even sometimes get the chance to help conduct research into panda behavior and health, allowing the centre to learn more about this endangered species. With this combined and focused effort, the hope is that the centre will be able to work towards one day ensuring that the panda population is stable enough to survive in the wild.
The Adventure Begins: Arrive at Chengdu International Airport, where you’ll be met and transferred to your city hostel. Take some time to explore Chengdu to get your first taste of Chinese culture! Try some market food, and take in all the sights and sounds of this bustling city, which is ‘home’ for the next two days.
Explore Chengdu: After breakfast at the hostel, you’ll visit the Panda Breeding Centre and witness first-hand what is being achieved there. You might even get to see some of the red pandas that live at the centre! After lunch, take a walking tour of Chengdu city and see some of the most famous sights including Kuanzhai Alley, Peoples Park, and Tianfu Square. Finish the day with a welcome dinner at a local hotpot restaurant.
Chengdu – The Panda Centre: After an early start, you’ll meet your fellow volunteers and transfer to the project site at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve. The journey takes about 2.5 hours, so you’ll be ready for breakfast by the time you arrive! After satisfying your hunger, unpack your bags at your hotel before receiving a project briefing. You’ll then have lunch and change into your project uniform! If you’d like to, go on a 3-hour waterfall walk, and later enjoy dinner and a video back at the panda base.
Project Work Begins: It’s finally time for the moment you’ve been waiting for, as you begin your project work and meet the pandas for the first time! After breakfast, head to the part of the centre to which you’ve been assigned, and get stuck in with cleaning the panda enclosures. After all this hard work you’ll have a well-earned break, during which you can observe the pandas up-close. Next is feeding time – the pandas eat four times a day so this comes around very regularly! After you’ve had your own lunch you’ll feed the pandas once again, and then walk through the sanctuary to watch the other bears. In the evening, learn how to make dumplings and to play the ancient game of Mahjong.
Project Work and Chinese Lessons: Begin the day with breakfast, before getting stuck in to your volunteering duties once more. As before, start with cleaning the pandas’ enclosures, and later feed the bears. If you’re really lucky, you might be placed with a mother bear and her cubs, so you’ll get to watch the keepers feeding the babies! After your duties are complete, return to the centre for a Chinese language lesson followed by some calligraphy.
Project Work and Free Time: Participate in the same volunteering activities as the previous days until you finish (at around 4pm). Once the working day is done, spend time with your fellow volunteers (and new-found friends!) at the on-site bar – this is the perfect chance to compete with each other and try to become master of Mahjong! You can also choose to explore more of the panda centre, and to learn more about its wonderful work.
Return to Chengdu: Sadly it’s time to say your ‘goodbyes’, as you’ll transfer back to Chengdu International Airport today. Return home with memories to last a lifetime, or make some independent travel plans to add even more memories to the scrapbook!
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Choose your perfect itinerary, then book safely and securely through Eco Companion.
- Airport transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project staff
- 3 meals a day at the panda sanctuary
- Tea, coffee and water
- Laundry facilities (with a small fee)
- Internet access in public areas
- All flights
- Visa costs
- Food on the first night of your stay
- Any extra excursions
- Alcohol, snacks and personal items
- Any other services or activities not mentioned in inclusions - if in doubt, click 'Ask a Question' to speak to the operator!
- The rate shown is a 'from' price per person
- Click 'Ask a Question' up above to enquire about full project dates, availability and costs
- To secure a place on this project a 20% deposit is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
- The minimum age for participation on this project is 18
Still have some questions? Click to speak to the operator directly!
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