This is an odd one to review, because there are two aspects: the Panda Volunteering at Dujiangyuan, and West China Go who helped arrange it.
I’ll start with the latter and say this: if you are not Chinese and you’ve decided on the Dujiangyuan panda day, you should absolutely book through West China Go. Lily, who was my contact, was helpful, efficient, easy to correspond with, and I felt like she has a passion for what she’s doing. Most importantly for me, she dealt with the required medical form via email, saving a lot of money, time and hassle of doing this privately in our home country. The West China Go package also included transportation and entrance fees to the panda base, so it was fully inclusive of pretty much everything you need for the day.
Regarding the panda volunteering, you really need to be aware of what you’re getting. If you’re just browsing tours and you have a lot of money to spend to get close to pandas, this isn’t for you. Don’t get me wrong: it *will* cost a lot and you *will* get closer to pandas than your average tourist, including a chance to feed them a few sticks of carrot, but that’s not what the volunteering day is about. You will also spend time smashing bamboo against the ground, making ‘cake’ for the pandas, eating unfamiliar Chinese food in the staff canteen, and sweeping up panda poo. Is it an authentic ‘day-in-the-life’ of a panda keeper? No, it’s way easier than that. But it’s a bit of fun and something different.
Personally, I had a great day. Yes, it was the most expensive thing we did in a two-week tour of China. Yes, it was a long car journey from Chengdu. Yes, the panda feeding time was short. Yes, there is nearly two hours of free time during the day (we used this to see other pandas, plus red pandas and black bears also at the centre). But if seeing pandas is on your “must do” list in China/Chengdu, and you want to devote more to the experience than just going to a zoo, then I highly recommend this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just be aware of what’s offered and you won’t be disappointed.