Pumulani: Our full report

10 rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 11 reviews
Suitable for 6+
mid-March to mid-January

Pumulani is a luxury beach lodge located high on a hill on the west side of Nankumba Peninsula, towards the southern end of Lake Malawi. It is within the Lake Malawi National Park so is a great spot for walking, snorkeling or simply relaxing.

Its pedigree is excellent, as it's owned by Robin Pope Safaris, who run some of Zambia best camps – including Nkwali Camp, Tena Tena and Nsefu Camp in South Luangwa National Park. They also have Mkulumadzi and soon to be opened (July 2014) Miyala Camp in Malawi.

Pumulani’s main area has a central bar and dining area situated high above the lake, with great views from an expansive wooden deck. Dining tables are laid out under cream coloured umbrellas. Pumulani faces west so is a great spot to sit and enjoy amazing African sunsets!

Down a few wooden steps, to a lower deck, is Pumulani’s large infinity swimming pool. This is surrounded by comfortable sunloungers and bright red sun umbrellas.

Down many more steps, and along wooden walkways, is a lovely quiet beach. Here you will also find a beach-bar that offers drinks and light snacks during the day. There are also some sunloungers and umbrellas as well as a hammock strung between the trees. Because Pumulani is within Lake Malawi National Park, the beach here is basically a private one – without any other people nearby.

At the time of our recent visit (November 2013) a floating platform had been built just off the beach. This is a lovely spot to swim out to and sunbathe and was also a popular spot for the pied kingfishers!

The ten villas at Pumulani are built on different levels along the hillside, and are very spacious and stylish without being glitzy. Some are higher up, closer to the main area, and others are lower down closer to the beach. The roofs of each villa are turfed, which allows it to blend into the hillside.

Of Pumulani's ten villas, there are four twin-bedded villas; four villas which each have a king-size bed; one honeymoon villa with an outside shower; and one family villa which can sleep four people in comfort (or five if there are small children!).

Each villa has a spacious bedroom with large double bed (or twin beds) beneath a spacious mosquito net. Behind a solid concrete headboard (with reading lights) is an area for storing luggage. A dressing table, with mirror above, has a hairdryer and plug points. Each room has air-conditioning as well as a ceiling fan over the bed.

Next to the bedroom is a spacious en-suite bathroom with a free-standing bath, double basins, double showers and a flush toilet. Dressing gowns and toiletries are provided.

There is a separate lounge with comfortable cane chairs and a sofa. On a low coffee table is a selection of bird and nature books and magazines. Each villa has a minibar with soft drinks and water and is stocked on request. Sliding doors lead out onto a wooden deck. Here are two canvas directors chairs and a sun umbrella – a great spot to relax and enjoy the views over the lake.

Most people come to Pumulani to relax for 4 to 5 days after a safari in Zambia or Malawi, although some will come for the activities offered – which include snorkelling, kayaking, waterskiing, wake boarding, fishing, tubing and scuba diving. The lodge has two sailboats, which can be used by experienced sailors – you are requested to remain in sight of the lodge for safety reasons. On our recent trip we did an early morning guided walk along the hillside above the lakeshore. Kayaks were left for us in a little cove and we paddled back to the lodge in time for a hearty breakfast. Guided walks are also possible along the lakeshore to visit nearby villages. The bird watching here is also great. Mountain bikes are also available to explore the surrounding area. Rock hyrax, samango monkeys, bushbuck and klipspringer are often seen whilst out on the hillside and spotted-necked otters are often seen along the lakeshore.

For some of these activities, Pumulani has its own, traditionally-built 12m wooden dhow. This has been hand-built on Likoma Island, and is used for sunset cruises as well as other boat trips.

Pumulani also has a state-of-the-art star gazer for keen and budding astronomers!

The rates at Pumulani include all non-motorized activities (eg: snorkelling, fishing, sailing, mountain biking, nature and village walks, sunset cruises on the dhow and kayaking). Note that motorized water sports (eg: scuba diving, waterskiing and wakeboarding) cost extra, and can be paid for locally.

Our view

Pumulani is a relaxed, comfortable beach lodge and is a great spot to end a trip after a safari in either Zambia or Malawi. The staff here are friendly and the service and food good. It appeals to guests who wish to just relax and unwind, or those who prefer to be kept more active. Please note, however, that with all the steps here it is not suitable for the elderly or guests with walking disabilities.


Location: Shore of Lake Malawi, Malawi

Ideal length of stay: Four to five nights here would be ideal after a safari in Zambia or Malawi.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Robin Pope Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Meals are served in the dining area, either under cover, or out on the extensive deck. On our recent visit here (November 2013) we found the food to be good, with a wide choice on offer.

  • Breakfast is a self-service buffet of cereals , fresh fruit, yoghurt, fresh muffins and fruit juice. A hot breakfast is cooked to order.
  • Lunch is usually a choice of a meat or fish dish. During our stay we had a choice of beef schnitzel or chambo fillet (local fish from the lake) served with chips and salad. For desert we had delicious banana and apricot parcels.
  • Dinner is usually a three course meal and we had tomato tart served with tomato dressing as a starter. This was followed by a choice of either beef fillet on a bed of mushroom risotto served with fresh vegetables and chicken or vegetable Thai green curry, served with basmati rice and naan bread. Desert was a very tasty crème brûlée.
On our second evening we had a lovely surprise – a barbecue on the beach with a local band entertaining us for the evening. Tables and chairs were laid out on the sand with lanterns dotted around. The chef was cooking the meat on the barbecue and a table was laid out with a selection of salads. We had a wide choice of food which included boerewors (a traditional South African sausage), pork chops, steak and chicken pieces. There was also a selection of at least five salads. All of this was finished off with a delicious chocolate tart served with fruit salad.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: Local drinks (beers, wines and spirits) as well as soft drinks are included. Pumulani also has a small cocktails menu and these are included as well. Premium drinks and champagne are extra and charged for locally.

Further dining info: Room service is not possible - although a a private dinner on the deck of your room can be requested.

Special interests

Beach holidays: To make your stay one of your best beach holidays, Pumulani offers a range of activities. Enjoy the sheer feeling of remoteness by the infinity pool, race around the lake on water-skis, or join a stately dhow for sundowners in the middle of the lake – the choice is yours.

See more ideas for Beach holidays in Malawi

Walking: Walking at Pumulani is best with a guide, who can take you along the lake shore, near the hillside and into the nearby villages. For some variety, try the option of kayaking back along the lake after your walk.

See more ideas for Walking in Malawi


Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Pumulani.

Property’s age restrictions: No age restriction

Special activities & services: There are no special activities specifically geared towards children however there is the swimming pool and the beach, which can keep children entertained. A childrens menu is available and special meal times can be arranged.

Equipment: Pumulani has one baby cot and a few highchairs.

Notes: We recommend Pumulani for children 6 years and over due to the uneven wooden walkways and the number of steps. Children will need to be sensible, and closely supervised by their parents at all times.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Pumulani has a back-up generator.

Communications: There is WiFi in Pumulani's main area and good cellphone reception.

TV & radio: There are no TVs at Pumulani.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Lake water is pumped through a water filtration system. This water is fine for washing but not for drinking. Bottled water is provided for drinking.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a clinic available in Cape Maclear as well as Monkey Bay, about 45 minutes drive away. For more serious cases a flight can be arranged to the hospital in Lilongwe. Some of Pumulani's staff are trained in first aid.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There are staff on duty during the day, and at night there are two night-watchmen around Pumulani Lodge.

Fire safety: At the time of our visit (November 2013) there were no fire extinguishers at the lodge. These were on order and due to arrive sometime in 2014. There is a fire-break around the lodge.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included at Pumulani.

Money: Each room at Pumulani has a digital safe. No currency exchange is provided.

Accepted payment on location: Payments for any extras at Pumulani are best made in cash; US dollars, SA Rands, Pounds sterling, Euro or Malawi Kwacha are all accepted. Visa credit cards are also accepted, upon which there is a 5% surcharge. Other credit cards are not accepted at Pumulani.