Lake Malawi National Park, at the southern end of Lake Malawi, is the only national park in Malawi that was created with the purpose of protecting fish and aquatic habitats. Despite that being the main purpose of the park, it covers a significant amount of land, including a headland, the foreshore and several small rocky islands in Lake Malawi.
On the glittering shores of Lake Malawi, which is also known as the ‘Lake of Stars,’ you’ll find Pumulani Lodge, the brightest star on the lake. Pumulani, in Chichewa, means to rest or relax. Whether you want to relax amongst some of the most dazzling scenery in the world or take the opportunity to be active whilst surrounded by rare natural beauty, Pumulani has something for you. The lodge lets you experience the very best of both worlds on your Malawi getaway.
The warmest welcome
After a four hour drive from Mangochi District we arrived at Pumulani. We were welcomed warmly and handed glasses of refreshing ice-tea. Check in was so smooth and included a brief run-through of the facilities and activities. I was pleasantly surprised by how attentive the Pumulani team was as they welcomed us and helped us settle in.
We needed to freshen up and quickly checked into our rooms. Our room was halfway downhill from the reception (the lodge is situated on a hill) and halfway to the beach on the shores of Lake Malawi.
Pumulani Lodge has ten villas (four twin, four king, one honeymoon and one family villa). Each villa has tea/coffee making facilities as well as a stocked minibar fridge. Note, there is no Wi-Fi (making it perfect for those who want to be off the grid) but there is telephone reception. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms with double basins and showers. Each bathroom has a bath tub, while the honeymoon villa has a unique outdoor shower.
Feeling ravenous, we headed to the restaurant for lunch. I love hotels and lodges that offer fullboard accommodation. Pumulani’s rates are inclusive of drinks and meals. They also offer a wine and spirits list at an extra cost. (Prior to travel, the lodge will ask you if you have any special dietary restrictions or requirements.)
The first meal we enjoyed was some fried pork and chips. That was accompanied by a delicious salad and I knew the chef was set to show out!
Just after lunch, the chef asked us to make orders for dinner and we had the liberty of choosing what time we wanted to have dinner.
We were also asked what evening activities we wanted to participate in. The lodge offers a number of activities including snorkelling, fishing, sailing, nature walks, kayaking, sunset cruises on a dhow, mountain bike tours and village tours. Motorised watersports such as diving, waterskiing, fun tubing and snorkelling excursions are also available.
Our first activity was the sunset dhow cruise which begins at 4:30pm. We went around the lake, past the hills and closer to the beach. The guides were highly knowledgeable about the nearby villages and their inhabitants.
On the far left, we saw some hippos near the bushes. I was shocked to see some children swimming and rowing boats not too far from where the hippos were swimming. The staff told us that the hippos and the people are used to each other and live together harmoniously.
Back at the lodge we rested for about an hour or two and headed out for dinner around 8pm. We were served with a three-course meal of flavourful wraps as a starter and rice and cheesy chicken breast for the main course. The dessert was a pleasant cheesecake that perfectly complemented the first two courses.
I wound my day up with a lovely bath. The view of the lake from the bathroom, both during the day, and at night, is unforgettable.
Second day shenanigans
For our second day, I made plans to take the nature walk up the hill (about a 30 minute walk) to the untampered Star Beach, and kayak back to the lodge. I am still trying to perfect my paddling skills and this was a great opportunity for me to do so.
The views uphill of the Lake Malawi are to die for! The water is so blue and clear – and I am still thinking of other locations that share a similar view of the Lake Malawi. Currently, I am blank.
We arrived at Star Beach around 8:30am and rested a little and took in the views, before getting on our kayaks back to the lodge. It was tiring at times but overall a lot of fun. It is a 20 minute paddling journey back to the hotel – and we were just in time for breakfast when we got back.
We had made arrangements to have breakfast after 10, and were first served with an open buffet of cold breakfast. We sent our orders for hot breakfast to the chef, as we ate the cereal and fruits. I particularly remember having some of the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had.
Pumulani has two beautiful swimming pools – one infinity pool just a few metres from the restaurant, and the second infinity pool at the beach. I spent the rest of my morning enjoying both pools.
When at Pumulani, you have options on where you would prefer to have your meals. For the second day, I opted for a late lunch and chose to have lunch at the beach, close to the pool area. We had some lasagne and another delicious salad.
After having lunch, I took the sunset dhow again, and it was a solo cruise this time!
We got so close to the hippos, and that was my first time being so close to a live hippo in my life. They are so huge! Before heading back I witnessed the most magnificent sunset.
One staff member, Godfrey, advised that night would be perfect for stargazing and he was right. He is so knowledgeable about the stars, and shared plenty things I did not know before.
Dinner was as amazing the previous day and we had the best pork belly I have ever tasted. Pumulani has some of the best food I have had around Malawi.
The dessert was some lovely biscuits which were a little too sweet for a person like me without a sweet tooth – but I enjoyed the food.
A satisfying stay
I spent my last morning at the lodge deep in the bath and enjoying the magnificent view of Lake Malawi from my window. We had no plans for our third day and got a chance to take in the views around the lodge. There are so many baboons and monkeys around the lodge.
We had breakfast around 8 and spent the rest of the morning day-drinking in the living room as anybody would on a true vacation.
We had lunch around midday and checked out, heading for Lilongwe refreshed and rejuvenated from our time at Pumulani.
Contacts for Pumulani Lodge
t: +265 (0) 999 970 002/3 (Malawi) / +260957090441 (Zambia)