It’s Monday 9th November 2009 and off to Pumulani

So, last week you got the story about our time off in the Nsefu sector and you were left hanging with “a what happened next…??”

sunrise at Pumulaniamazing sun rays

Time for some beach and complete relaxation – that is of course after the epic drive from the South Luangwa to Lake Malawi. The road from Mfuwe to Chipata is notoriously bad and the last time that Rob and I drove we were in fact over taken by a bicycle (now all you ladies out there can only imagine how badly this sits with a man in his prize possession – his car!) so this time determined to out run the cyclists we left Nkwali Camp before 0500 so as to attempt to beat the bicycle rush. We were successful in our mission and in fact the road although terribly corrugated was not as bad as anticipated and before we knew it we were 20kilometers from Chipata enjoying a lovely view, cup of coffee and cooked breakfast. There really is no point in roughing it when you don’t have to!

fish eagle in full flightPied Kingfisher

Through the border and on to the smooth tarmac roads of Malawi – and all this before 0930 in the morning! Graham and Emily happily sleeping in the back of the car whilst we negotiated the police road blocks through to Lilongwe and then the stunning hills that you drive through before reaching the lake. Who sees the lake first! A good game to play on a nice clear day however before the rains the atmosphere gets rather hazy and long distance spotting is not really an option, cheating on the other hand is and when you have driven this road a few times and know when that first view of the lake is about to hit you, you are guaranteed to win. Enough of childish games and on to the lakeside haven – Pumulani.

going fishing!Pumulani dhow

A complete contrast to our camps here in Zambia, Pumulani is set on a hill which plunges into the stunning crystal waters of Lake Malawi, how better to end a holiday. Arriving at the lodge in time for a delicious spot of lunch with never ending views of the Lake and the warmth of Mark and Jenna welcoming us at the lodge – what could be better. An afternoon spent reading books on the beach, cooling off in the lake and taking the little sail boats out for a spin. Both Rob and (other) Emily are accomplished sailors, Graham and I however – well not so much, but willing participants. First off Rob and I as he put it “there is a cheeky little wind out there, this should be fun!”

Well yes it was but let me tell you when this little boat is zooming along with us both hanging off the side to counter balance it the heart rate certainly gets going, it goes apoplectic when you turn round and discover that you are on your own in the boat and don’t know what on earth to do. You guessed it, somehow Rob had fallen out, succumbing to a girly moment of panic and “what do I do” I pulled and loosened all ropes and managed to stop the boat enough for Rob to climb back in. I am sure that I have now completely given away the fact that I am nautically challenged. After this somewhat nerve racking experience I persuaded Rob to head to shore and take Emily and Graham out in turns as this seemed like a much better idea – for me at least!

Everyone finally finished their search for adrenalin and the day was wound down with a stunning sundowner by the pool.

A day of utter indulgence – surely we can not spend the next 2 days in the same manner – wrong!

Rob & Emily enjoy a lovely spin on the boat at PumulamiGraham & Emily having a fab time!

Day 2 – after the most delicious dinner and an equally filling breakfast something had to be done if we were going to don swimwear later that day so off we went the intrepid explorers that we are with nothing but a daypack and some water to follow the trail blazed by Mark through the hills. This was the first exercise any of us had done in some time and the vigor with which we started the walk soon waned but we made it to the beach where the kayaks were waiting for us to paddle back to camp. A beautiful walk through the hills looking down on to the lake followed by an equally magnificent kayak along the shores looking up at the hills spotting the mighty fish eagles that scour the shores for a tasty snack. That was certainly enough exercise for one day so once the kayaks had been pulled ashore and we had had a dip in the lake it was time to relax! Which we did with great success for the rest of the day – such a lovely change from our day to day life here and getting the opportunity to get through some of those books that have been sitting on the bookshelf begging to be read for the last year. We did however interrupt our relaxation for a spin on the speed boat with Mark and Jenna heading out into the lake, cutting the engines and enjoying a sundowner listening to the sounds of the villages as the fishermen prepare to go out for their nights fishing.

snorkelling in the fresh waters of Lake Malawi

Day 3 – well by now we were starting to feel a little bit guilty about our lack of activity so we scurried on out on a snorkeling trip in the morning. You would never believe the varieties of fish and colors that you see and they are everywhere, you can even put your hand out and they will come and nibble at your fingers looking for food. As wonderful as this is it is maybe not something that is for me as I do rather prefer to be left alone when I am swimming so I decided to watch everyone from the safety of the boat – as you can see though it was an entertaining view!!

sauling into the sunseton the dhow

As this was unfortunately our last day we couldn’t think of a better way to finish our stay than with a sunset trip out on the dhow. This magnificent wooden boat, delicately hand carved is for me the essence of being on the water in Africa. The huge sail billowing in the gentle breeze and the subtle creaks of the wood as the boat glides through the calm waters – there really is nothing better. After 45 minutes of sailing out from the lodge the sail came down and we all jumped into the lake. The boys taking the opportunity to impress the girls with some impressive summersaults off the sides – of which I am afraid there is not pictorial evidence. Once in the water you realize just how clear it is – and refreshing! After cooling off and taking a break from the heat of the day we climbed back into the dhow (conveniently placed ladder) and headed back to the lodge.

On the last day we bumbled our way back down the dusty valleys road towards home with the harsh reality that our holidays were at an end. Emily and Graham were going onto bigger and better things – Victoria Falls and Livingstone for a week.

Have a lovely week!
Rob & Emily

sunset at Pumulani

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