Volunteering in Malawi 

Mwabvi Wildlife and Community Trust

Visit our new Volunteer website at


  We're waiting to hear from you in Malawi and are taking volunteers and offering training courses at Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve!

The latest news from our Malawi colleagues is that they are gearing up for more volunteers for 2010 and want to hear from you! Some information below will give you a taster of what is available.

The seasons are predominately summer and winter. Summer at Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve in the Southern part of Malawi in the District of Nsanje can be very hot and humid with most of the year's rainfall taking place during this period. Temperatures can reach 35°C - 47°C during the day, falling to around 26°C - 30°C in the evenings. The winters are dry, but very pleasant. Although temperatures can fall to 15°C at night, the days are pleasant with clear skies and temperatures in the high 20s. Given the low altitude (80-200m), the humidity levels can become rather high and uncomfortable, and adequate protection from the sun is essential. Large volumes of water must be consumed to prevent dehydration.

1. Working Volunteers: Kristen with leopard

Both environmental, wildlife conservation and community work is available to volunteers. Generally, volunteers participate in a balance of these three, unless they specifically prefer one project programme over the others. A schedule is drafted each month for participants and where possible we work to this, unless urgent issues arise. Volunteers will most likely participate in some of the following activities:

  • Checking of predator camp fences
  • Data collection from research sites in the wildlife reserve.  
  • Training and lectures on basic conservation principles, veld and game management
  • Game walks and tracking to identify animal tracks, droppings, and their preferred habitats 
  • Assist with the day to day operation of Njati Lodge and Migudu Camp site. 
  • Night camp outs in the bush 
  • Night game walks
  • Removal of alien plants
  • Water testing
  • Anti-poaching practices
  • Birding field work 
  • Cleaning and erection of new predator enclosures
  • General camp maintenance
  • Field trips to other places of interest in the area
  • Exercising of lion cubs and other orphaned animals 
  • Field trips on days off 
  • Taking care of and feeding any baby orphaned animals at the rehabilitation centre 
  • Feeding adult animals 
  • Helping with schools tree growing project, village vegetable gardens and agricultural programme
  • Wound care programme in the local communities
  • Conservation education with local communities and schools
  • Special projects: game counts, research data collection, fire fighting

Adele with Amayi and MoranInterested volunteers simply need to organise their travel arrangements such that they arrive at Blantyre Airport. This may require a transfer from Lilongwe International Airport prior to the official commencement date of the programme. Arrangements will be made to meet you at the airport and bring you to Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve as well as return you to the airport on completion of your stay with us. 

Flight prices will vary depending on your country of departure, time of travel, and time of purchase. However, on average, return tickets to Malawi cost between £650 and £800 from Europe and between US $1,300 and US $2,300 from elsewhere.

Accommodation for the volunteers is at Chipembere camp.  All bedding is provided, and personal laundry is done daily.  Bathrooms have hot and cold running water, toilet, showers and hand basin. Other facilities at Chipembere Camp include computer/internet access, printers, digital camera download facilities and telephone access. Internet access is at a small fee and telephone calls are charged at reasonable rates.

Volunteers are to be 18 years and older, though no volunteer is too old, but we do require that you are in good health and are reasonably fit.

English is the main language spoken at Chipembere Camp, although the locals mostly speak Chichewa and Chisena.

The costs vary depending on how long you want to stay and what level of work and experience you can offer, they are always good value for money and both positive and unforgettable experiences! Remember you do not have to have any special skills to volunteer with us here at Mwabvi.

Once you've made the decision to go and been in touch with the Malawi team, our UK based volunteer coordinator can help you with advice on travelling, what to take and what to expect.  You can also download our Guide for Volunteers, which contains information on:

  • Getting to Malawi, where to stay and how to get to Mwabvi
  • Cuultural information: dress codes, money, language, health and weather;
  • Travelling in Malawi
  • What to take with you
  • Annotated maps of the two main cities, Lilongwe and Blantyre


Download the Guide for Volunteers


You should budget for a cost of around $250 per week plus your food at $35 for three meals per day and incidentals. You will be required to cover your own cost to Malawi if you are travelling from abroad.    


2. Educational Volunteers (Field Guide Courses) Kristen with White Lion

Mwabvi Reserve can offer various educational courses with a certificate on completion.  All accommodation and study material supplied.  Some of these courses will include: 

  • A basic Field Guide Course Level 1
  • Trails Guide
  • Big 5 mammals of Southern Africa
  • Basic Conservation
  • Lodge Management
  • Wildlife Management
  • Animal Tracks and Signs of Africa
  • Behaviour Guide of Herbivores, Carnivores and Primates
  • Basic Survival

Download the latest field study and training programmes here

3. Volunteer Students (Practicals and Thesis, etc)

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve offers students facilities to complete their practical studies and thesis in our Wildlife Reserve at a very competitive price, which includes accommodation and transport around the reserve by qualified staff.  This also includes visiting and/or studies on our outreach programme with the local communities i.e. hospitals, orphanage, etc.

If you need help funding your research, we've found the following grants that may be able to help.

All Grants:   The Society provides funding for geographical research, fieldwork and teaching.
The grants offer support to desk and field researchers, research teams and school teachers. Grants are for work in both the UK and overseas and range in value from £500 to £15,000.

British Airways Travel Bursaries :   British Airways Communities and Conservation kindly provides return flights for individuals conducting conservation-related field research or fieldwork outside the UK.

Economic and Social Research Council:   The ESRC schemes enable individuals and groups to pursue world-class research in academic institutions and independent research centres throughout the UK. They also fund research not linked to strategic priorities but proposed by researchers.

Henrietta Hutton Research Grants:   The Henrietta Hutton Memorial Fund offers research grants to female undergraduate or postgraduate students who are under 25 years of age and intend to undertake field research overseas as an individual or as part of a team. The field research must last longer than four weeks, but does not have to be connected to the student’s academic studies.

TAA Award Fund:   The TAA Award Fund makes grants of up to £2,000 to UK citizens and long-term residents under the age of 30, qualified in agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, environmental science, social sciences and related disciplines. The grants are designed to enable awardees to gain their first experience of international development work. Money can be used for airfares, living costs and other expenses arising from the projects on which the awardees will work.

The lion cubs Amayi and Moran arrive at Chipembere for the first time

If you just want to visit:

Our campsite at Migudu just inside the reserve entrance is now open and you can:

  • Drive through the Reserve (or we can arrange a game drive for you!)
  • Camp in the Reserve at our Migudu Campsite, with full toilet facilities and game viewing platform
  • Hire a local guide for bird watching and game spotting activities

As from May 2010 you can stay at our comfortable self catering en-suite chalets at Njati Lodge near the Mwabvi Gorge on the Mwabvi River.

If you would like further details on any of the above please contact the Malawi team for the latest details.

Entrance to Chipembere camp


PAW: Promoting environmental conservation and development in Malawi.

Also in this section...

A Guide for Volunteers