Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary and Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary and Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary

Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary extends 180ha of Brachystegia woodland between the Old Town and City Centre in Lilongwe.

The sprawling acacia combretum woodlands are Lilongwe’s only protected wilderness, and they are home to a wide variety of wildlife from antelopes, wild pigs, and hyena to over 200 species of bird.

The Nature Sanctuary has been split into two parts.

One is the Nature Sanctuary to the west of Kenyatta Road and offers guided walks and fantastic early morning birding, with a chance of seeing a few large mammals.

The other part on the opposite side of the road is now utilised as Lilongwe Wildlife Centre which is a wildlife sanctuary founded in July 2007 for orphaned and injured animals.

The sanctuary’s small network of trails, passing through pristine Brachystegia woodland and the riparian forest lining the Lingadzi River, is well worth exploring over an hour or two.

The main point of interest is birds, with more than 200 species recorded, and the riverine paths are especially rewarding, offering a good chance of seeing the colourful Hueglin’s Robin and Schalow’s turaco, raptors such as brown snake eagle and black sparrowhawk, the elusive African finfoot, and a variety of kingfishers, weavers and finches.

Secretive mammals that occur here naturally include spotted hyena, otter, porcupine, bush pig and grey duiker, and there’s a good chance of seeing vervet monkeys, bushbucks and crocodiles along the river.

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

(8.00-17.00 daily)

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is an award-winning rescue, conservation and education hub run by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT), a private NGO.

It is Malawi’s only sanctuary for orphaned, injured and rescued wild animals.

The Wildlife Centre cares for over 200 animals including a small troop of samango monkeys rescued from captivity in Europe, and a leopard transported from the old zoo across the road, along with rescued blue monkeys, crocodiles and numerous other species who have been rescued in Malawi and elsewhere.

The centre has also nurtured then overseen the release of several troops of vervet monkey in Kasungu National Park and three bushbabies to Lake Malawi National Park.

Day visitors can take a 1 hour guided tour of the sanctuary, leaving every hour between 9am to 4pm, spotting the animals and learning about the charity’s work, or walk the 4km of nature trails winding along the river through the reserve which is home to antelopes, crocodiles and over 150 species of bird.

Volunteers can join the programme from 2 to 12 weeks, with tailored experiences that focus purely on animal care or incorporate time spent on LWT’s other projects around the country such as education, community outreach, conservation medicine and behavioural research.

Whilst those looking to put their existing skills to use are very welcome, no experience is necessary as full training is provided.

There’s also a bar, restaurant, playground and gift shop.

Large groups (8+) can pre-book a conservation session with the education team too.

Getting there and away

The entrance gate of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre lies on the east side of Kenyatta Road between the Old Town and City Centre.

There is plenty of minibus and taxi from the Old Town and City Centre to the Centre.