Reviews of Pumulani
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Beautiful location, very relaxing
In terms of somewhere to chill out after safari, Pumulani was perfect.
The room and service was excellent. We enjoyed a number of sundowner trips on the dhow, the snorkeling with the fish trip and the early morning walk through the bush and kayak back but generally laid on the beach relaxing. As it was quite late in the season the lake level was low which meant that the beach was quite muddy at the water line and swimming in the lake was not really an option. The pool is lovely but quite small so could be a little busy.
The warning about the number of steps was really important, not a problem for us, in fact quite useful exercise, but could be a problem for others.
Best not to rely on the internet access, it was down a lot of the time due to power cuts and when it was working was very slow. However that is a minor gripe.
We spent 7 nights there which was really a bit long, 4 would be ideal
Excellent but not as advertised
Pumulani is a curious Lodge in design and what is on offer. In its day I am sure that the chalets were ground breaking and award winning however the dated design lacks practical functionality in many respects. The rooms are huge as are the beds but lack details such as bedside tables [ we had to use a chair] , hanging space [there was one unit on the wall] , places to put haversacks [I used a book table]. The bathroom was huge and totally mega.....twin shower.....twin basin...and bath. Well the bath was a very small and I could only just squat in it. The basins were set high and too far back on the shelf to allow personal washing. The ballroom door which opened inwards leading to the bedroom had no catch the bedroom side and was hung so that it was always open into the bathroom. The bedroom access from the vast lobby come sitting room was through an opening with no door. The chalet had one small air conditioning unit in the bedroom which might just have been sufficient for the bedroom but with all the open doors etc really could not cope and made little difference.
The brick built chalet was painted green unlike the main building which was cream. Our chalet walls became roasting hot during the day and the chalet was an oven which the single air conditioning unit had little effect upon. The main building walls were much cooler than ours. One could not leave any windows open since there were no grills/mesh/nets to keep the monkeys and insects out. There was little in roof overhang thus the sun poured into the rooms. One wall had windows pointing to the rising sun thus the chalets warmed quickly in the mornings. The expedient of adding shutters was an obvious addition the chalet needed to these windows. The balconies [two!] offered fantastic views and a nice 15 foot drop onto rocks below which the single piece of tree branch nailed to questionable uprights seemed little safety. The balconies were potential death traps and our chalet was not suitable for a "family" I guess. Things were different a few years ago.
What to do at Pumulani now that the lake has dropped is serious question. Swimming off the "beach" is a No No since the waters edge is thick mud into which one sinks to the knees. Worse still is the fact that the beach is very flat and one has to wade many meters out before one can then float through the weed. Not a pleasant experience. We did struggle out to the advertised swimming platform which was covered with bird droppings and unusable. There is a small sandy area 5 minutes walk from the beach where one can get into the warm lake water and swim among the weed which the lodge management seem to know little about. There was a much better beach 45 minutes walk or canoe paddle from the lodge where the swimming was quite good. Pity that the management had not thought to arrange free boats to this area since their beach was not for swimming. We took a ride to an island to snortle with the fishes which was good if expensive. I used the Lodge's sailing boats which were for the competent sailor I would suggest, and were in a bad condition and poorly maintained. We went for a scramble up the hill behind the Lodge. Two and a half hours later we considered the scramble was a bad description and should have been described as a "serious" walk for a rambler and impossible on a hot day. Our day was cloudy and low twenties centigrade. This brings up another issue with the Lodge.
The management seemed to know little of what was on offer for the visitors. They did not know about the beaches, we doubted that they had been on the walks, doubtful that they had used the sailboats and obviously had little idea about the chalets. I did suggest to the under manager that she should stay in a chalet to experience the pros and cons.
But before one thinks this is just a moan this lodge has mains electricity to each chalet [and backup generator] , air conditioning, kettle and fridge and air conditioning. Good food at the restaurant and a practical swimming pool. We had dinner on the beach one night. The service was second to none all our stay and the laundry service was free and same day returned.
The management admitted that there were things to be done like getting an engine for their second boat. The engine had been "bought" a year ago and delivery was the "problem". Malawi is very poor and life is very very Africa !
Pumulani is a great place to relax and unwind but hardly a lake beach holiday.
Perfect wind-down from bush safari
Pumulani was a perfect place to wind-down from the bush safari camps and the 05:15 wake up calls. The lodge has more of a hotel feel to it and is on multiple levels linked by stairs and walkways.
The beach is beautifully maintained and well equipped with a beach bar serving cocktails as the sun goes down over Lake Malawi. The rooms are huge and well appointed - more apartments than rooms, in fact.
The main lodge facilities at the top are very stylish and arty and again, staff and food were exemplary.
Everything at Pumulani is excellent - beautiful setting, stunning lodges, lovely pool and beach and staff who are extremely friendly and helpful. The actvities were great too with bike rides around the bay, the evening dhow sundowner trip and fabulous snorkelling in the Lake.
Thanks to Ellie at Expert Africa Head Office for all her help in organising my stay and travel in Malawi.
We had 5 nights at Pumulani after 2 very active safari camps. The location is stunning and the facilities are top notch (no wifi). The lodge was very quiet during our stay, so the atmosphere was somewhat low-key, but that is not to detract from the helpfulness and friendliness of the Managers and Staff. Compared to safari camps, the pace of life at Pumulani is slower - but no early morning starts, and plenty of opportunity to laze on the beach or by the pool.
One of the highlights was snorkelling in Lake Malawi (no bilharzia). The visibility is very clear and the cichlid fish are brilliantly colourful. The other outing we enjoyed, was visiting the orphanage in the local village. This is run by Loyce, a most remarkable woman who, in addition to her own 2 children and her job at Pumulani, has taken 20 orphaned children under her care. We gained much insight into the lives of rural Malawians, and felt very humbled after our visit. Robin Poe Safaris offer a lot of support to the local community, and this is a huge help for the villagers.
There is not a lot of wildlife, but the birding is excellent.
The food and wine are 5 star, and the rooms offer privacy and comfort.
A fine place to wind down and have fun
This is a large property beautifully located in the national park.
Apart from Saturday, we had the place almost to ourselves, the kayaks and motorboat as well as other facilities were readily available. Guy is a good host and chef, very attentive and helpful, the staff cheerful and always ready to fulfil our wishes.
We particularly enjoyed talking to Louise who runs a small souvenir shop and produces craft work together with orphans.
Relaxing at Pumulani
Our second visit to Pumulani. Beautiful location, high above the lake, and excellent spacious accommodation with large bedroom and living area, plus views of the setting sun over the lake.
Staff are attentive, efficient and friendly. For us, the slight disappointment was the food which was not as good as on our last visit a year ago and not up to the standards we found at other locations on this trip. Hopefully, this was a temporary blip.
We enjoyed snorkelling, walking and kayaking.
Great lake setting and activities
We enjoyed our stay at Pumulani very much. The setting was fantastic and we doubt chalet 5 could be bettered for its excellent views.
The chalet itself was also extremely spacious and comfortable. The service was excellent and all our requests were promptly dealt with. The facilities were also first class and the dhow and trips on the lake were wonderful. We appreciated the chance to use the telescope with interesting information from Rob.
A very enjoyable experience.
Relaxing and active time at Pumulani
Superb setting for the lodge. Beautiful spacious accommodation, lovely view over the lake. Food really good, excellent barbeque lunch one day by the lake.
Excellent host (Jake, who was temporary manager while Alex and Karien were on leave) who went to great lengths to make sure all our activities were well organised, i.e. snorkelling, dhow lake trips, walks, including village visit, and kayaking. All great fun and extremely informative, especially the village visit, where we also visited the village school. Guides and all staff were excellent, really welcoming and friendly. Overall, excellent level of service.
Only comment would be the lack of clothes hanging space in our chalet: there was only space for four hangers in total, which really wasn't enough for our clothes for our three different locations. The design of the hanging space could not allow for more hangers, a bit irritating. But a minor point overall.
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..