Volunteer with Pandas in China

Traveler intern Marley Gibbons shares the scoop on a new tour out of China.

What better way to get to know China than through hanging out with its most iconic creatures? Planeterra, a non-profit that organizes trips for travelers interested in supporting development in the communities they visit, now offers an experience with a different kind of community. Project China is a 14-day trip through the northeast provinces of China that includes four days of panda-sitting time at Bifengxia Panda Centre, where some of the less than 1,000 giant pandas left in the world live.

I talked to sustainability manager for Planeterra, Liz Manning, about how the Project China tour is different from other tours Planeterra offers. She said that the locations the visit includes are “some of the [most] culturally significant and…ecologically significant places in China.”

The two-week long trip includes visits to the markets in Shanghai, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, the Forbidden City, and the Shaolin Temple, where Kung Fu and the Zen Buddhism movement in China began. There are also stops in Luoyang, the capital of the Song Dynasty, where most of Chinese culture as we know it today developed, and in Chengdu, which Manning says is “known for incredible food.” 

But the experience you’ll never forget is the four days spent at Bifengxia. Volunteers meet with Centre researchers to learn about the challenges in breeding the pandas and the ongoing habitat destruction that is causing the panda population to dwindle. They’ll also learn more about (and hopefully see) the 14 cubs who have been born at Bifengxia since about 65 pandas were relocated after the Wenchuan Earthquake. Volunteers will assist the researchers with varying tasks, depending on where they are in their work. Activities might include gathering food for the pandas or cleaning their habitats.

“There are not a lot of places you can volunteer with pandas…this is a highlight of the [trips] we currently offer doing wildlife conservation in Asia,” said Manning.

The trip costs $1,899 per person, with departures from June to October.

Accommodations throughout the trip, Manning noted, will be “largely small-owned hotels and guest houses,” and meals which are not included, will cost about $4-6 a piece. 

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

Whether it’s your first or fifth time to China, Planeterra’s Project China offers you the chance to establish a unique bond with China by helping to preserve its precious pandas.

[Planeterra’s Project China]

Photo: Planeterra

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet