It’s Monday 14th September 2009 and otters at Pumulani

Before I start….Liuwa Plains with Robin…..we have had a cancellation and so there are now four free places starting 08 December for 5 nights. The December trips are full of flowers, huge flocks of migrating birds and the wildebeest and their newborn calves. A wonderful experience. Have a look at Robin’s report from last year.

Robin and I are back from some glorious days on the Kenyan coast. It was Jess of Flatdogs 40th and most of the gang that had gathered for my 50th last year managed to make it. The days soon developed a wonderful rhythm of crab, swim, poker, lobster, swim, poker, more crab, and yet more crab, swim, poker. Yes – Jess loves crab and wanted it every day! Meanwhile others are enjoying the African sunshine on the water of Lake Malawi. This week is news from Mark and Jenna at Pumulani.

view from our bedroom in KenyaPumulani dhow (

“The beautiful sunny days of late have allowed us to make full use of our most valuable asset and biggest attraction – the lake. It’s difficult to resist the lure of the blue, blue water when the weather is this perfect and even serious ‘landlubbers’ find themselves in or on the water in some way or another every day.

the zippy sailing boata moment of contemplation

Messing about in boats is what we do a lot of at Pumulani and there are several different types of craft to try out. The dhow still dominates our fleet and the idea of sailing serenely along in this classic boat is appealing to everyone. The two speedboats are modern, sleek and fast, they get you to the best snorkeling, fishing, and birding spots and are used for skiing and wakeboarding. The kayaks are great for exploring the coastline and are the best boats for otter spotting. The three sailing dinghy’s have seen a lot of use lately and many guests have rekindled an old sailing passion on them. Finally a traditional dugout canoe gives one a taste of how the local fishermen get around.

Rew family ready to set off kayaking from Pumulani (

Picnic breakfasts served on the dhow have been a particular highlight. Sailing off into the blue with a basket packed with yoghurt & muesli cups, fresh croissants, warm muffins, bacon sandwiches, orange juice and a flask of coffee is not a bad way to start the day. As the morning heats up everyone leaps overboard for a refreshing open water swim.

Otters are now regularly seen (Marianne Wiesebron)Cape clawless otter (David Potter)

Otter sightings have increased over the past few weeks, mostly of the smaller spot-necked otter. A family of four are regularly seen from the beach in the evenings, their glistening black heads breaking the surface every twenty metres or so as they glide effortlessly past. Cape clawless otter are much larger and more rarely seen at Pumulani, we were treated to a magical sight this week in the lagoon across the Kasankha bay. The Potter family was doing some birding from a speedboat when three clawless otter appeared, porpoising along the reed beds. They were close enough for David to get some excellent photos as they repeatedly dived and surfaced, watching us quizzically as they crunched on snails picked off the muddy bottom.

Sarah Barnhart joined the Pumulani family in June as a host for the high season. Sarah spent much of her childhood in Zambia but is studying in Vermont, USA where she returned last week. This is her account of a soccer match between team Pumulani and the Nankwali village team:

The neighboring village N’ankwali issued a formal football challenge to our staff. The staff is so keen to respond that organizing the match only takes a few days preparation. A time and place is agreed upon, and the staff immediately starts scheming for free time to practice. As Sunday approached, the staff grew excited about showing off their football prowess and representing their place of work.

A chance to learn to waterskiiJenna and her huge catch

Finally the day of the match arrived, and at 2:30pm Kate and I jumped on our bikes to head to N’ankwali village. Half an hour later we arrived at the pitch and spotted a large crowd of Pumulani staff on the far side of the field. The other team had yet to arrive, following African time, which meant the 3:00PM match would begin at 4:00PM, if all went well.

Finally, the two teams faced off against the pitch. The supporters hovered along the sidelines with Pumulani fans, mostly staff, far outnumbering the N’ankwali cohorts in attendance. Every time the ball seemed to be headed into the goal the Pumulani supporters would gasp or cheer. N’ankwali scored the first goal, leaving a glum Pumulani in their dust. However, 10 minutes later Precious ripped one through the wooden post goals. The supporters erupted, performing back handsprings, ripping off their shirts and running onto the field. Eventually, the supporters calmed down enough to return to the sidelines and the game progressed. Five minutes later, our launderer Lemos scored again for Pumulani, causing an even heightened state of celebration with all of us jumping up to dance and cheer enthusiastically.

Is this a grimace or a smile?Pumulani's super duper speedboat

Ultimately, Pumulani lost the game 2-3, but our team most definitely took the prize for the most enthusiasm. The spirit and camaraderie that Pumulani displayed on the football pitch is equally translated into their approach to their work in the lodge. Each individual has an important role, but all together, combine to make a team that works together to keep Pumulani operating at a highly professional level.

Thanks to Mark and Sarah. Yes – village football matches in Africa include a full pitch invasion at every goal. Quite a surprise the first time you experience it.

So until next week, have a great time.

village football (must admit taken at Mfuwe)

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