All in a days’ ‘work’ at Pumulani Lodge

As the sun heads toward the hills across the lake, we take a kayak and a stand-up-paddle board onto the lake.

May 2020 • Conrad Cooke, Country Manager for RPS Malawi

All in a days' 'work' at Pumulani Lodge

There’s no denying that the current situation (if only we had a 1000 Malawi Kwacha for each time we heard “unprecedented”, “uncertain” or “the new normal” to describe these times) is difficult and that the tourism industry in our stunning corner of Africa faces a long, hard and (dare I say it?) uncertain road to recovery. However, the silver lining is that our off-days are spent playing with toys normally reserved for guests: hiking trails, kayaks, mountain bikes, sunsets from the beach pool… Somebody has to do it!

It’s early morning and already we’re awake, sipping on a steaming cup of black-with-one-sugar Malawian coffee. The baboons, having finished their game of hide-and-seek on the roof, now strut on the handrails past the bedroom window, the young ones stopping to admire their reflections in the glass. 

We’re hiking the baobab-walk this morning. An easy, 45 minute walk with beautiful view-points from the boulders around Lake Malawi, it’s ideal to brush up on my birding – a hobby I’ve had little time for the past few years. Bohm’s Bee-eaters, Grey-headed Gulls and the ever-present Fish Eagles make for easy ticks on my list. In the distance I can hear the unmistakable call of a Western Banded Snake-Eagle but as I scan the blue sky for it, I only find a Gymnogene on the hunt. The call of the Black Cuckooshike keeps me guessing for a while but then it flutters by on the path in front of us and it’s another bird checked for the morning.

Back at home, the baboons have moved off (and as always left smelly souvenirs behind). Brunch (we’re trying out new bread recipes for the kitchen) with another cup of coffee while we catch up with the news of the day. A few weeks ago, business altering-news about Covid 19 was breaking so rapidly that we could barely keep up. Now, however, the news cycle has slowed down to a crawl, so we quickly switch back into off-day mode. How about a book-by-the-beach/pool this afternoon?

Retha’s busy devouring one of her favorite novelists while I, embarrassed by birding-skills in the morning, listen to a podcast about feathers. Did you know that the shimmering colour starlings have come not from pigments but from the structure of the feather?

As the sun heads toward the hills across the lake, we take a kayak and a stand-up-paddle board onto the lake. The water this afternoon is flat. As if like magic, we glide over the water taking in the surreal views of the hills and villages around the lake. With the sun setting in all shades of red and pink we’re back on the beach and packing away the paddles.

After a quick chat with the night’s security guards, who hail from the village right outside the gate, we head back home. How about a movie tonight? I hear Contagion is good?

As I am writing this, I’m also planning a trip down to Kuthengo, our lovely tented camp in Liwonde National Park. There also, there are no guests. It’s a 2 hour drive through rural Malawi, followed by a 25 minute boat ride on the hippopotamus-filled Shire River. But again, somebody has to it?”