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“Relaxing after Safari in style”
Review of Pumulani

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Pumulani
Certificate of Excellence
Antwerp, Belgium
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Relaxing after Safari in style”
Reviewed September 17, 2012

Perfect lodge with all cottages placed so everybody has complete privacy.
Perfect staff, helpful and bringing ideas everyday for activities which can be done.
Sundowner on the dow is a must.
Scuba diving in sweet water was a totally new experience. On the way back from diving spot we let out the tube behind the speedboat. Great for the kids!
Also fun was the fishing for the kids, meanwhile the parents could relax.
What a great experience

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Stefan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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105 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (30)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Kampala, Uganda
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2012

We stayed one night at Pumulani whilst we were in Malawi. It's got to be the most luxurious place i've ever stayed. These guys really know their stuff, our room was awesome with 2 balconies overlooking the lake, the swimming pool, outdoor dining and bar areas are all set up and laid out extremely well. The food was great, the service impeccable - there's a private beach with boat rides going out every evening if you want to do that. We were even invited to use the star gazing telescope while we had a cocktail before dinner and the impressively knowledgeable staff pointed out all the formations. All in all a top class hotel, if you've got some cash to burn it's worth it.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Stewart G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 15, 2012

I spent three wonderful nights at Pumulani at the end of last year, with my parents who were visiting from overseas. It was absolutely wonderful! From the moment you arrive you are made to feel so welcome. Nothing is too much trouble, and Mara and the team (at that time, Emma and Chris) are great hosts.

The villas are, quite simply, spectacular. The food, consistently great, and abundant. The setting - stunning!

I've spent a fair amount of time in Malawi over the years, and it was really great to see something of this calibre operating in Malawi. My parents, who have stayed in luxury hotels all over the world, were very impressed, and it is most certainly one of the nicest places I have ever stayed! I really hope to return someday, and perhaps even visiting Robin Pope's newest lodge in Majete. If it's anything like Pumulani, it will be nothing short of amazing.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jenbur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kendal, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
121 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2012

Stayed for 2 nights with friends who are residents in Malawi so could take advantage of 'resident's rates -doubt we could have afforded it otherwise! After a tortuous journey along a deeply rutted road we were glad to arrive and relax. Staff are very welcoming and attentive. The lodges are all individual, spacious and beautifully designed. We had one not far from the lake shore and it was reached by several flights of wooden steps. Inside there was a huge lounge with picture windows -not overlooked so very private. the bedroom held an enormous and very comfortable bed, lots of space but minimal wardrobe /cupboard space. The safe was in a really awkward position under the desk. The bathroom held a double shower (which almost flooded the bathroom when in use!) double sink and bath -it was all very tastefully tiled. The local gekkos and lizards seemed to like decorating the walls which added to the ambience. In the morning we watched yellow babboons eating our grass roof.
Meals were taken on the main terrace with drinks /nibbles served around the firepit in the evening -very enjoyable looking up at the stars and over the lake where the fisherman go out at night with their lamps so that the lake lives up to its name of the 'Lake of Stars'. The food was good but not outstanding -the setting /buildings /proce lead to high expectations of the food but it fell short.
There are lots of water sports on offer -we shared a speedboat trip to a section of the lake where we could snorkle and watch fish eagles swooping onto the lake surface.At lunchtime there was a delicious BBQ on the beach (the only really good meal we had). In the late afternoon we had a dhow sail which was very relaxing and saw hippos swimming in the lake and a wonderful sunset.
With no tv, no internet -just peace and quiet, it's a great place to relax.
They just need to match the quality of the food & menus to the stunning location and buildings -perhaps a proper chef?

Room Tip: Ask for one with direct views over the lake -some are obscured by trees.
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank hazel-paul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
167 reviews
167 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 661 helpful votes
Reviewed June 25, 2012

We arrived at and departed Pumulani in a private plane - just the two of us, plus the pilot who was a handsome version of George Clooney. And when we were at Pumulani we took a speedboat out across the lake and then, an hour or two later, sped back to the beach where our lunch of salad and chilled wine had been set up on a table shaded by a tree overrun with monkeys. And we thought, how very James Bond it all was! I looked around for a waiter called Nicknack.

Pumulani is like that, a bit of a fantasy, perched on a hill above the water, with an infinity pool and striking contemporary design. It has clearly been influenced by some of those high-end lodges in South Africa as well as the Amanresort chain, although there is no spa which is absolutely fine with us. Pumulani really is a wonderful place, sitting cheek-by-jowl with fishing villages that haven’t changed for centuries, with no electricity, barely a roof over their heads and dug-out canoes. Pumulani’s proximity to poverty didn’t worry us much - after all, you get that in London or anywhere for that matter - and the lodge provides quite a bit of local employment.

Pumulani is owned and managed by Robin Pope Safaris and many people come here after a heavy dose of Zambian wildlife. There are rock hyraxes, monkeys, baboons and wonderful birds, but most people come just to chill out in one of the ten rooms of quite extraordinary size and design. You can take a dhow trip, or a speedboat, you can dive or snorkel or swim. Or you can just sit on one of your two private terraces, look at the birds and soak in the stunning panorama. The walk down to the sandy beach is fairly steep and even steeper coming back, though a golf cart is available on call if you wimp out.

I reckon Rooms 5 and 7 have the best views. Ours was No.7 which curved convexly and contained a series of four rooms - an entrance hall which had a sink, fridge and tea-and-coffee things; then a sitting room with sofa, chairs and large coffee table; then an amazing bathroom with his-and-her basins, his-and-her showers, a claw-foot bath and a loo that was partially hidden behind the shower wall; then the bedroom with a luxurious bed, mosquito net, dressing table and rataan shelving unit.

We could have done with more than four coat hangers and maybe they should have had a built-in wardrobe right across the back wall; and we are old-fashioned enough to prefer a proper enclosed lavatory - the layout here meant every little plip and windipop echoed around the entire suite and your knees could be seen by every fisherman from here to Zanzibar. But these are minor quibbles for this was one of the very best rooms in a lifetime of great hotels. At night it could be noisy - the baboons knocked fruit off a tree that hit our roof like cannonballs - and there was one enormous spider who liked our company. But the whole thing was spotless and serviced promptly when we were at breakfast.

So far so splendid. But I must say that a day before we left I was thinking of giving this place the lowest TA rating for one single but most important reason: The food for the first three days was beyond terrible. It was depressing. It was bewildering. It ruined our stay. Here was this uber-cool 21st century hotel offering clunking food right out of the 1950s. How could the Robin Pope organisation get the catering so generally right at the Zambian game camps and so wrong here?

Breakfasts were barely average: pancakes were dry and served without maple syrup or cream. Lunches were inadequate: one day the choice was between a hamburger or a bowl of soup. Dinner on day one was roast pork which turned out to be a great slab of leathery gammon served with a mountain of lumpy mashed potato plus rock hard broccoli and cauliflower. No gravy. No apple sauce. Unadorned. Unprofessional. Next day was some sort of chicken casserole. Again bone dry without any kind of sauce served with chef’s signature mash. Next day was a chicken curry. Searingly hot. No naan bread. No chutney to cut the heat. Appalling. Desserts were sickly and/or stodgy and I was shocked that a place of the level of Pumulani could not offer any kind of ice-cream as an alternative.

On that third night, we ate the rice but our plates containing the uneaten curry were collected without comment by the assistant manager, Laura, whose boyfriend, she had previously told us, just happened to be the chef. Ten minutes later the manager, Mara, came up and asked us, rather hesitantly, how we liked the food. Well, our little chat with her lasted about 15 minutes when we discussed the failings of the food and the menus and what sort of food Pumulani should be offering to the fairly sophisticated crowd they get here.

Mara seemed to know she had a problem and a situation which was hard to resolve. Anyway, she took on board everything we said because the next day, lo and behold, we ate exactly what we had suggested - for lunch a light couscous and feta salad made by Mara herself and for dinner something we had anticipated eating every night - fish from Lake Malawi, served grilled with a light dill sauce, some rice and a green salad. It was delicious. We asked Mara what had happened to transform the food overnight. “It sometimes helps to have a bomb go off,” she said. We were that bomb and for the sake of future guests I hope the food continues to evolve and doesn’t lapse back to that ghastly 1950s school dinner mode we found when we arrived.

The staff here come mainly from the nearby fishing villages and while the English of some is limited their charm and willingness to please knows no bounds. And we thought Mara one of the most charming and capable managers we have ever encountered anywhere and as long as she resolves the situation in the kitchen then Pumulani could be one of the great bolt-holes of the world.

Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank Pausanias
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 19, 2012

In one word: Paradise!

The suites are very beautiful and their locations are absolutely stunning! We had the privilege to stay in the Honeymoon suite with the fantastic outdoor shower, the colourful decorations and a lot of attention to details. The staff was really friendly and so helpful, the service was absolutely extraordinary! Everything was possible: having lunch on the beach, having breakfast or watching the sunset on the Dhow, go snorkeling or a walk to the local villages. If you are there, we would definitely recommend to visit the local villages with one of the Pumulani staff members!

The food was really good, every day something different and always a choice between two or three dishes (which was actually really hard to choose as all dishes were nice. Our only comment on the food: it was too much, haha!

It really was the best way to spend the last days of our safari holiday!

Thanks Mara, Laura and all other staff at Pumulani for making our stay so wonderfull and unforgettable.

We will definitely come back one day!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Kim538
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berne
Level 6 Contributor
323 reviews
101 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
Reviewed April 8, 2012

I had the pleasure to stay Pumulani for 3 nights last september and really loved it. The suites are big, spacious, very tastefully decorated, with a lot of love for details, and just plainly - wwwwwwww ooooooooooooooooo wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. big, amazing views, amazing bathroom.

very nice food. breakfast buffet is not big, but still tasteful. dinner is fantastic. the lake beach is great.

Stayed September 2011, traveled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank nathalieyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pumulani

Property: Pumulani
Address: Monkey Bay, Lake Malawi National Park 10101, Malawi
Location: Malawi > Lake Malawi National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Lake Malawi National Park
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Pumulani 4.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated on the west side of the Nankumba Peninsula on the Southern end of Lake Malawi you can find Pumulani subtly nestled in the lush hills amongst the trees and craggy outcrops. The ten villas with their grass roofs to help reflect the heat provide the ultimate in space, design, comfort and privacy. David Livingstone famously named Lake Malawi “The Lake Of Stars” and for good reason, during the day the light dances across the deep blue water and once the sun has set the stars twinkle brightly both in the sky but also on the lake as the fishermen light up their hurricane lamps for their night on the lake. Guests can relax on the white sandy beach or enjoy an elevated view of the lake from the stylish infinity pool. For those seeking some activity we offer waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, walks in the hills, sunset cruises on our handbuilt dhow and snorkling and diving. Under water activities never fail to amaze as the diversity of fishlife is very surprising and experts say that this lake is home to more native fish species than any other in the world. Pumulani offers the perfect mix for a memorable holiday. Enjoy being active or simply relax in the beautiful and tranquil scenery. Luxury accommodation, friendly personal service and stunning views over Lake Malawi combine to make Pumulani the perfect African beach 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. The gently curving lines of the very spacious villas reflect the patterns and movements of the lake along with the interior design, which is directly inspired from the surrounding nature. Each villa has a large bedroom, which opens out onto a private deck where early risers can enjoy the morning’s first rays. The bathrooms also offer splendid views and are well equipped with a bathtub, double shower and double sink, and the spacious lounge area offers further comfort for those wishing to relax in the room. The central area consists of a spacious open restaurant with an undercover area, bar and a cosy fire area. The infinity swimming pool is on a lower terraced deck. Three raised walkways with steps lead off from the central area to the villas and down to the beach. The name Pumulani means “rest well” in the local Chichewa language, and that’s exactly what we offer – the chance to unwind in a beautiful and tranquil setting. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Pumulani Hotel Lake Malawi National Park
Pumulani Lake Malawi National Park

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