Lake Malawi travel tips
Not only is Lake Malawi one of the most crystal clear and exotic lakes in the world, it has unforgettable energy. This massive 600-kilometer long lake takes up nearly a 1/4 of the whole country and is the livelihood of thousands of Malawians. The southern section is said to be the most exquisite with granite rock cliffs, dozens of islands, turquoise water, and countless cichlid fish, so that is where we stayed, courtesy of Perched up on a hill and tucked into the trees with views to the lake from every angle, Pumulani hotel is named after the local Chichewa expression “rest well” and that is exactly what we did (with a dash of adventure, of course).


Pumulani hotel rooms
Designed by a Dutch architect, each of the ten suites is meant to blend into the hillside and flow with the lake’s landscape. The vine-covered villas were beyond spacious at up to 175-meters large, feeling more like lake house than a hotel room.


Designed by a Dutch architect, each of the ten vine-covered villas of Pumulani
Our bedroom with its canopy bed, lake-inspired patterns, and grand lake-view terrace was such a treat.


Our boat ride on Lake Malawi with Pumulani in the distance
Walking past the gorgeous pool and private beach, we left the hotel behind us (you can see it nestled on the cliff), and set out in our very own speed boat for a series of water adventures.


Snorkeling with wildly colorful cichlids on Lake Malawi
Freshwater isn’t usually that exciting for snorkeling but Lake Malawi is home to over 1,000 species of fish, including the wildly colorful cichlids. Blue, yellow, and orange striped fishies flitted around us at every cove.


Bike ridding through a village in Malawi
Wanting to get a sense of the nearby fishing villages, we did a combo excursion of a bike ride to Kasankha and a kayak back to Pumulani. When we pedaled into town we didn’t realize we were going to cause such a stir but apparently mzungus (aka. white people) coming to town was a rare event. Within seconds of passing the first mud huts, we were surrounded by smiling kids shouting “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Running alongside our bikes (or hanging along the back) and laughing the whole way, the kids escorted us over a kilometer until we reached the water.


Lake Malawi fisherman, Malawi
On our way back, we kayaked alongside the fisherman heading out for the evening shift. Motorboats stacked with dugout canoes go out to the depths of the lake until the men’s nets are full or the sun rises. Lake Malawi is called the “Lake of Stars,” and when you see the twinkle of the canoes’ kerosene lamps dotting the water at night, you’ll understand why.


Dhow trip at Pumulani on Lake Malawi
Wanting to spend as much time on the water as possible, we signed up for nearly every dhow trip Pumulani offered. At sunset we would sail out on this classic wooden boat for sun-downer drinks and for our last morning we had a private breakfast picnic on its bow.

Real, raw, beautiful…Lake Malawi is a loveable place.

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  • Andi Perullo, L.Ac.

    OMG I HAVE to go there now!!!!!! What an amazing place. GORGEOUS!

    • Mike Howard –

      another one to add to the list Andi! Pumulani was top notch.

  • Patricia Howard

    So beautiful! You need to keep candy with you at all times so you can give it to the children! Remember the pics of Nana Howard blowing bubbles & giving chewing gum to the little children in China!!

    • Mike Howard –

      oh yeah I totally remember those photos. i still can’t believe all the places Nana Howard went to as a solo female traveler back in the day, so proud of her!

  • Nancy Frankenfield

    This is the stuff dreams are made of!!!

    • Mike Howard –

      oh yeah Franky, you are right, it was so beautiful there, right on lake malawi, with local villages all around, it was really a fantastic place.

  • Rashaad Jorden

    Did the kids ask you for autographs?

    • Mike Howard –

      LOL, they asked us for our Twitter handle :). Those kids were SO freakin cute. grabbing our bikes, pushing us, pulling on things….just a barrel of energy. I dont think they see many non-locals ride through their village.

  • Pattie Colgan

    Loved seeing the happy children living a simple, communal life. They are probably better off in most ways than the children in the USA.

    • Mike Howard –

      yes, this is something we discuss often on our trip. if having playstations and nike sneakers makes kids better off. obviously better health services and electricity are a good thing, but how much western luxuries are needed….hmmm…the debate rages on.

  • Pattie Colgan

    You guys are great photographers! Thanks for taking the time to share these amazing places with me. Will you ever be able to go back to “normal” life here in the states???

    • Mike Howard –

      Pattie, thanks for the love on the photos, glad they bring a smile to your face. sharing…? thank YOU for following along on the journey! not sure if we will ever have a “normal life” again…but we shall see.

  • Mike & Anne’s – on Facebook

    we loved Robin Pope Safaris Pumulani, what a beautiful resort.

  • Mike Howard –

    you mean this one? if so, i dont know what that is….Anyone know?

  • Mike Howard –

    you are right Lee, we should be, but we do a pretty good job with the suntan lotion, and staying out of the sun during peak hours. its a tough job, but someone has to do it!

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