By Katherine Stansfield
With its vast landscapes, welcoming people, the glorious sandy beaches of Lake Malawi and plenty of incredible wildlife, Malawi makes the perfect exotic holiday destination. Rather than just lounging on the beach reading a paperback, you could make your holiday experience all the more worthwhile by combining your visit with a stay at the award-winning Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Volunteer holidays at the LWC range from two weeks to three months, and with great weather all year round there is no bad time to come!
The centre houses over 200 rescued wild animals including lions, hyenas, monkeys, crocodiles and antelopes. Alongside the animal carers you can get involved with various aspects of animal care, from assisting the vet to helping with releases. Orphans in particular need special attention and round the clock care to ensure that they have the best possible chance of rehabilitation, so it’s very likely you’ll be assigned with surrogacy work, bottle feeding, playing with baby animals and providing all aspects of care until they enter the next phase of our rehabilitation programme.
What could be a more memorable holiday? The goal is to release the animals back into the wild; it can be an incredibly rewarding experience indeed to see their progress and know that you have played a vital part in their journey back to the wild.
Prefer working with homo sapiens? No problem. Volunteers can also contribute to a wide variety of community initiatives that the centre runs, including their education programme, tree planting and further local initiatives all designed to help repair fractured relationships between humans and animals, reduce deforestation and stop the loss of animal habitats from the selling of firewood.
The capital city location has its perks; there are plenty of opportunities to head outside the centre with fellow volunteers to eat, drink or walk up to the local shops and craft market for the all-important authentic African souvenirs. And with the must-see Lake Malawi just a short car journey away it makes the perfect relaxing day trip or long weekend. As a volunteer you can also get discounted safari trips and hop over the border to Zambia’s stunning South Luangwa National Park which is known as one of the best reserves in Africa.
On site accommodation is provided, and a mix of Western and Malawian meals are prepared each day by the centre chef, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer. The wildlife centre is a great place for socialising in the evenings and on your day off. You can grab a drink at the bar, enjoy a picnic with the new friends you’re sure to meet, or kick back with a book by the river in the wildlife reserve.
Despite being in the heart of the city, the centre is located within a nature reserve that feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life with sounds of the wilderness all around, so expect to wake up to the chattering of monkeys and the roar of the lions. Truly, a wild experience!
Interested? See more here.