Reviews of Pumulani
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
This lodge has the most incredible location, rooms and views! The flight in by light plane was brilliant, seeing the lodge from the air confirmed our high expectations, and set us up for a special few days of relaxation after our safari. Our welcome at the hotel was friendly and efficient - we were soon enjoying lunch and a drink on the terrace overlooking the lake. The food and service were brilliant for all of our stay. The rooms are huge and very comfortable. Overall we had a very good stay, didn't use the boating facilities except for the sunset cruises on the dhow. These were really good, with snacks and plenty of drinks provided.
There were some negatives. The wooden walkways that lead to the rooms and the beach were in an appalling state of repair, with loose boards and handrails, and many exposed nails. This included the decking around the pool - ok in daylight with care, but at night most of the walkway was not lit. A small torch was provided attached to the room key, but this wasn't really adequate given the state of the boards.
Our return flight to Lilongwe was a big disappointment. When we were advised that we would be joined by another couple and a large amount of luggage we were promised by Claire the manager that a bigger plane would be provided. Not so! The plane that arrived was the same Cherokee Six that had delivered us. At best this is a 4 plus 2 seater, including the pilot, which was why we were concerned over fitting in 5. It was impossible for my wife to move her legs at all during the fight, as the other couple were seated opposite her with their legs trapping hers.
A great hotel, good food and service and a fantastic location, which we did enjoy, but in the end we were not impressed with this part of our trip. On reflection we would have been more relaxed spending extra days at Tafika, in Zambia..
A great lodge with fabulous food
The Lodge was great. The food was faultless. The service was ok.
The Relief Manager was weak. It is usually going to be a negative when the Full Time Manager isn't there.
Such a treat despite the slightly dissapointing weather. Rooms were so well maintained and luxurious. The staff were willing to fit anything into your time table which was great.
The casual nature of the beach facilities was fantastic and made such a change! We had a great few days here kayaking, cycling and walking. The efforts of the hotel to improve the lives of local people was appreciated, as was selling the beautiful products by Lois in the shop.
The food wasnt amazing but the location of the resort was phenomenal. Take me back!
Pumulani perfect for winding down
We chose to start our safari at Pumulani and this worked very well, we were soon in holiday mode. The highlight for us were the charming staff, they are quite simply exceptional and led by Mara, Chris and Emma, and ably supported by Michael, Lois, Luckio, Glen, Nicolas and Joseph. They all went out of their way to make sure that our stay was something special. The villas are exceptional, luxurious, stylish and comfortable, and the views of the wonderful Lake Malawi from our villa (number six) were breathtaking. However, we did notice that some villas were more concealed in the forest and had a somewhat impaired view of the lake and this is worth considering when you are booking.
We relaxed by the pool, on the beach, in the lodge and on our balcony, and enjoyed the delicious and varied food. A great strength is the variety of activities on offer. We very much enjoyed the village walk with Luckio and would highly recommend it, we felt welcome, that we were not interfering and in no way was the visit staged or artificial. Likewise, the nature walk with Glen and kayaking back, snorkelling with the cichlids and spotting the otters were highlights. The sunset outings on the beautiful Dhow are also highly to be recommended. Finally, the incredible stargazer telescope gave us wonderful views of Saturn.
During our trip in Malawi and Zambia some people we spoke to were concerned that visiting Lake Malawi was really only for serious watersport fans. So in case you are put off Pumulani because of this dont be, we are not divers or waterskiers, and as Expert Africa told us when we booked, there is so much more to do and see at Pumulani. Our only concern was that the lodge was very quiet when we were there, with only 2 villas occupied by guests and for a couple of days by an RPS film crew. This was by no means a problem for us, but we felt that the word needs to get out that both Pumulani and Lake Malawi are a wonderful destination and we cannot recommend it highly enough.
Sadly the unseasonal bad weather did not allow us to enjoy this camp to the full, but the welcome from all the staff and above all from Luke and Bettina helped to make up for what we were missing.
The village visit was a memorable experience, being a real village, not one set up for tourists and the dhow trip was lovely, even with extreme winds!
The accommodation in the spacious and well equipped bungalows was outstanding
Pumulani - luxury in a stunning location
We arrived in Pumulani after a 2 hour flight on a private plane from Mfuwe with a brief stop to clear customs in Lilongwe. Our villa, number 5, was huge and had breathtaking views of the lake from the living room, bathroom & bedroom. However, we did notice that many villas had much more obscured views so we counted ourselves particularly lucky to be in number 5. Our villa was quite close to the restaurant & reception but a good way from the beach. We therefore used the golf buggy to get back from the beach and avoid the steep climb, no problem.
What makes Pumulani so special is the views & the staff. There are views over the lake to 3 nearby villages where there is always lots of activity. We saw fishermen on the lake in their dugout canoes & heard them singing as they worked. This created a wonderful atmosphere.
The staff at Pumulani are mostly from the nearby villages. Unlike the camps in Zambia, we felt that we were really able to get to know many of them. We were keen to learn about their lives and they were keen to hear about life in the UK. Malawi is a desperately poor country and it was good to see what Robin Pope are doing to help just a little.
The activities offered at Pumulani are good, we particularly enjoyed swimming in the lake, the sunset cruise on the dhow and the early morning nature walk. We did have one and half overcast & windy days during our stay & this did limit our activities. The camp was no more than a third occupied during our stay & one evening we were the only couple there. The atmosphere would have been better with more guests.
Luke & Betty were excellent hosts, nothing was too much trouble for them. Our only criticism would be the food. We did enjoy the local dishes on the menu & the lake caught fish. However, we found that there was too much food on the ready plated meals & it was quite heavy food with not enough fruit & vegetables. It is embarassing to leave food in a country as poor as Malawi but we had no option but to do this.
Pumulani was a great place to relax & unwind after 9 nights on safari & we did thoroughly enjoy it.
Pumulani was a revelation
We rally didn't know what to expect from Pumulani but this was quite possibly the highlight of our holiday. It felt like every child in the village of Monkey Bay was there on the airstrip to greet us on our arrival which made us feel very welcome.
The location of the lodge on the hill overlooking the Lake was inspiring and our suites were enormous with every mod con imaginable. The views and sunsets from our personal and very private decks were stunning and very photogenic.
Our hosts Mark and Jenna were delightful and really made us feel like their personal housguests. It was quite a novelty to have choices for our meals after the safari camps and once again the food was splendid.
I particulalry enjoyed the abundant birdlife at Pumulani, including a pair of fish eagles and numerous pied kingfisher. Whils out on the lake we also came across a family of Cape clawless otters feeding which was very exciting - although I suspect Mark was even more thrilled than we were as this was the first time he had seen these otters in the lake.
We would thoroughly recommend staying at Pumulani at the end of your Zambian safari - it really is the perfect place to relax and get the dust out of your system before coming home.
A stunning location on Lake Malawi
The location of Pumulani, with stunning views over Lake Malawi and with its own private beach, was the main draw for us when booking this holiday. We were also looking for somewhere to completely relax. We were not disappointed.
As well as lazy days on the beach, or slightly more energetic activities such as hiking along the coast path and kyaking back, we also really enjoyed a guided walk through the neighbouring fishing village and a bike ride through the local countryside.
We expected high standards, having enjoyed stays at Robin Pope establishments before. Again, we were not disappointed. Simon and Zelda and the team ensured that we did not want for anything. They were very attentive and above all, so very friendly. (In fact Simon and Zelda were relief managers, but you would not have known, as they had obviously been very well briefed , and they really cared about maintaining the high standards which Pumulani has set itself.)
The villas are very well appointed, and we were fortunate enough to have 180 degree views of the lake from the balcony.
It was hard to drag ourselves away from Pumulan when it was time to go home, and that feeling of being well relaxed, with batteries fully recharged, should last us for a long time to come.
One little criticism might be the cooking. Everything was well cooked and tasty, but not very imaginative in terms of menus and recipes. As such, it didn't exactly live up to what we expected from the advertising literature. But, we hadn't chosen to come to Pumulani for a fine dining experience, so overall, we were not disappointed.