Volunteers stay together at the volunteer house which is within the heart of the sanctuary and surrounded by our animals. The programme is limited to a maximum of twelve volunteers at any one time. The house has mixed dorm-style accommodation sleeping ten with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hot showers. We also have an attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off. We employ a cleaner too so you don’t have to worry about washing your clothes or sheets on your day off.
You can also upgrade to our chalets if you want a bit more of your own space. They can sleep up to two and four people respectively and are complete with private bathroom and a little balcony. They are just by the volunteer house so you will still have the chance to eat and socialise with the other volunteers.
Vegetarian meals and drinking water are included and from Monday to Saturday are served by our local cook, Joseph who provides international meals along with some Malawian dishes (that he is more than happy to show you how to make). Joseph takes a day off on Sundays so you can alternate with the other volunteers to cook up a feast, or you can check out what the local restaurants have to offer. Food in Malawi is basic and we have to work with the seasons and availability but Joseph does a great job and we can still cater for any specific dietary requirements.
Those who choose to stay at Kuti Wildlife Reserve for part of their placement will have a more ’rustic’ experience since you are out in the bush. Still, there is solar electricity and you can get a hot showers every day and there are a couple of spots in the park where you can pick up the internet. Cooking is done with other volunteers on an open fire under the stars and you’ll wake up to zebra and sable rather than monkeys for your morning coffee. Please note that Kuti placements are subject to availability and the work demands of LWC.
Working hours are completely dependent on the animals we have in at the time, and on the level of care they need. Ideally, volunteers will work from 8am till 5pm, but this is not often the case as most orphans need feeding at unsociable hours and some even need round the clock care. We try our best to split this up between volunteers but please be aware that there may be some long days or even some night shifts. If you have any concerns about the working hours please contact firstname.lastname@example.org – no doubt there will be a working arrangement which can work for both you and the centre.
There is one day off a week, but, at the discretion of the management, it is possible to take off more or less time, dependent on emergencies and what projects you have going on. Volunteers who work longer than a month will also be given a long weekend off every 4 weeks.
By African standards, Lilongwe is a safe, clean and relatively quiet city with just the right amount of nightlife, which we will be more than happy to introduce you to! There are craft and food markets within walking distance, where you can browse the stalls for curios, pick up some local veg and practice your haggling. Free wireless internet is also available at the Centre so you can keep in touch with home and internet at Kuti is available to purchase.
Malawi is a beautiful country and we would highly recommend that you save some time before or after your placement to explore. Volunteers sometimes hire a car on their off day to go kayaking or swimming at the famous Lake of Stars, and your long weekends are perfect for safaris.
Who can volunteer?
We welcome volunteers of all walks of life and whilst relevant skills and past experience are very helpful, it is those with enthusiasm, a positive attitude, flexibility and a good work ethic that leave the biggest mark and who get to go home with the greatest sense of achievement. Volunteers are of mixed nationalities and ages, the minimum age to join us is 18 but there is no maximum age limit, the oldest volunteer was 72! Please be as honest as possible on your application form about any concerns about the type of work you can or can’t do and if you have any medical conditions. This will be treated with the utmost confidence and we will let you know if there is something you declare that would compromise your experience with us and what the options are.
When is a good time to come?
Any time! Lilongwe has a reasonably temperate climate for Africa. Wet season is from November/December to February/March, but it is actually very pleasant as rains last only an hour or so in the afternoon plus it makes the country lush and green! It reaches around 32 degrees in the hot months of October and November, and the coolest month is July, at around 25 degrees but still bright and sunny.
How do I get to you?
The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is based in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, a 30 minute drive from the Kenyatta International, the main airport. Kuti Wildlife Reserve is just 1 hour away.
You can book your flight easily online through websites such as Opodo.com, lastminute.com or directly with the airline. South African Airways (via Johannesburg), Kenyan Airways (via Nairobi ), and Ethiopian Airways (via Addis Ababa) all fly to Lilongwe. There are offices for all of these airlines in Lilongwe so there should be no problem if you need to change your flight when you are here (this is a regular occurrence with volunteers that extend their stay!) We will arrange all your airport transfers in Lilongwe. If you are travelling overland or from elsewhere let us know and we can let you know the best way to get here.
It’s best if you can start and end your placement on a Tuesday.
What is your health and safety policy?
We take health and safety very seriously and whilst you are unlikely to get seriously ill or injured it is paramount that you are well prepared, aware of potential risks and know what to do in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong. If you decide to proceed with the placement you will receive a detailed information pack that includes a detailed health and safety section. You need to start thinking about vaccinations several weeks and sometimes months in advance, so we advise you visit your doctor and start planning in good time.
What about visas?
Currently on arrival British, Australian, Canadian or American Nationals and visitors from most EU countries are required to obtain a $75 visitors permit valid for a month, with subsequent monthly visas costing roughly $10. Please check your own requirements with your embassy and let us know if you have any questions.
I’m looking for specific work experience – can you help?
We’ve taken on a number of students who need experience in veterinary medicine, animal husbandry/behaviour, ecology or wildlife management. Please let us know on your application form and we will do all we can to help.
Keen to apply?
Find out costs and how to apply here