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 Honeymoons.com. 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).
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 square meters large, feeling more like lake house than a hotel room.
Our bedroom with its canopy bed, lake-inspired patterns, and grand lake-view terrace was such a treat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.