The Pumulani Lodge is as close to Lake Malawi as you can get without actually being on it. And it is faaa-ancy. If you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay near Lake Malawi then your search is most definitely over.
Arriving into the Pumulani Lodge car park you wouldn’t believe what’s on the other side. Two hours’ drive and a world away from the rustic vibes of the Tongole Wilderness Lodge at the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve I’d stayed at for two nights before, I was now delivered via van to the chic coastal villa vibes of the Pumulani Lodge.
“Dutch architect G. Hooft Graafland designed each of the ten villas individually adapting them to their own unique location to ensure they blend harmoniously into their different surroundings.” – Robin Pope Safaris
The hotel concept features open white spaces, copper fish detail and beach furniture. The Pumulani Lodge feels more ‘Ibiza boutique resort’ than what I imagined would exist round Lake Malawi. It’s lush.
I took the welcome drink, the traditional local drink here, and wandered round to take in the panorama. The view from the restaurant, bar and check in desk was just incredible.
Food at the Pumulani Lodge
A burger, exactly what I wanted. And this one, was exactly as I dreamed. Most of the rest of the table went for the second option, the chicken salad. And I almost gave in to the social guilt that I should have salad but look at that picture – glad I didn’t.
That night we enjoyed fish fresh from the lake, with rice, and what felt like copious amounts of South African wine. We sat round the fire pit, soaking in the warmth and just chatting about everything we’d got up to that day (read on).
The piece de resistance though, when it comes to the Pumulani Lodge food, was the next day – breakfast on a dhow boat out on Lake Malawi. Another one of those beautiful moments I couldn’t believe belonged in my life.
Muffins, eggs, bread, cereal, even frittata, fresh orange juice, water and local Malawi coffee, all enjoyed with the vista of Lake Malawi in the background. As we ate we sailed past hippos, saw the locals fishing, and heard more about life living round Lake Malawi, and the problems facing the locals. Mostly, over fishing and water levels dropping, and again we’re reminded of how over consumption, over population and global warming affects all corners of the planet.
My room at the Pumulani Lodge
Huge. Gorgeous. Amazing view. Not enough time to enjoy it. If you fancy booking into the Pumulani Lodge, give yourself a day to enjoy all the facilities. Trust me.
LOOK AT THE BATHROOM!
Unfortunately I only got to shower in it, but look, imagine enjoying that bath and looking out past the Baobab Tree down to Lake Malawi. Although the guilt and responsibility over the water issues meant there was no way I’d bathe here, just like at the Tongole Wilderness Lodge the night before.
I shared a room, but had a super comfy single bed to myself. The mosquito net felt more ‘princess castle’, than a tool to keep out those deathly mosquitos. Although, there was no way they were getting in this room – it definitely felt more secure than the other places we stayed in Malawi.
Fun activities at the Pumulani Lodge
The Pumulani Lodge is popular – it’s the place to go round Lake Malawi if you want to impress. The day after we left a whole bank was coming in for their jollies to enjoy a free bar. Make sure you book early if you want to stay here.
The lodge is built on levels, down from Lake Malawi up the hill and onto the road – which makes for incredible views, and also a mini work out getting down to the beach and back.
With a pool and a beach at the lake, and a bar. I could’ve kayaked, I could’ve paddle boarded and there were even canoes too but after a busy day of travelling and only an hour to make the most of until the sunset cruise, I chose to relax on the sun loungers among the baboons playing just a few feet away.
We were eager to see what surrounded the beautiful Pumulani Lodge bubble though so took their mountain bikes out for a ride. Be warned, that decline on the way out is fun, but the incline on the way back in requires some serious energy and hard earned sweat.
We visited the local village on the fat tyred bikes. It was one of my favourite parts of the trip in fact. We cycled past farmers, past mud houses, relatively fancy churches, and people moving more on their rickety old bikes than would fit in a car over here. This was the residents of Lake Malawi going about their day and it was fascinating.
We came to the end of our track and the children from a nearby school came out to meet us. All saying ‘hello’ and then giggling when we replied the same. I told a little girl I loved her net skirt and she went all shy and smiley – so cute.
On the way back we chatted to a friendly local who told us he was planting maize. Sleeping dogs were strewn among the village and the mud houses we’d become used to dotted the landscape. It was hot. Life in the villages seemed a world away from the luxury of the Pumulani, yet just a hill away. If you stay here I’d definitely recommend you donate the $10 to take the tour.
Our sunset cruise took us a similar route to the breakfast one, but with twice the amount of hippos.
We sailed past the local village watching the fishermen out to pull in their daily catch. Fishing from the lake for personal use is perfectly acceptable, but companies are coming in and trawling the lake, emptying it of the life source so important for the residents here. The next day we learned that the Chango that was once caught here was at least three times the size of what they have now. But of course it’s impossible to monitor the 29,600km of Lake Malawi at all times.
The draining of the lake and the overfishing is a huge problem here which no one seems to have the answer to.
The Pumulani Lodge is a great place to stay if you’re looking for good food and drink in an exceptional location around Lake Malawi. Rooms start from around $365pp.