Written by: Claire Birtwhistle
“This must be the only place in Malawi where you can see both the eastern and western side of the Great Rift Valley with the vastness of Lake Malawi spread out in front of you,” explained Charl, the Pumulani Lodge manager, while standing on top of the Nankumba Peninsula at the southern end of the lake.
Hidden in the craggy hills between the treetops of this peninsula is Pumulani Lodge. It’s hard to spot with its constant camouflage of unique grass covered roofs. The hills around Pumulani show off spectacular vistas over Lake Malawi and inland towards the Rift Valley.
Along with a guide called Mustafa, Charl recently took some guests on a hike to the peak directly behind the lodge. It rises about 450m from the lake and takes a steady hour and a half to walk up, and two hours to walk down. The reason why the return journey takes longer is that the steepness forces walkers to take a different route down from the one they walked up.
There is no easy way to tackle this hill; it’s steep and is not for the unfit or faint-hearted. But the views on both sides of the peninsula are spectacular!
Here are some of the amazing photos that Mustafa took while walking:
This particular area of Malawi is remote with no roads, making it one of the last places in the country to remain ‘untouched’ by civilisation. This means that not only is walking the best way to experience this mountainous sliver, but it is also the only way to experience it.
Charl thinks hiking in the peninsula is a very special experience: “The area is within the Lake Malawi National Park and has great natural beauty. Unfortunately, throughout Malawi the natural flora is being destroyed by the charcoal industry so walking within the national park allows you to imagine what Malawi must have looked like 100 years ago.”
Although it can be a tough hike, it is thoroughly worth sweating off your sunscreen for, and Charl describes how guests usually react once they’ve (finally) reached the top: “Once the guests have caught their breath, they all react with awe! They tend to take a few moments for themselves, taking in the views. Most people come from areas where you would never be able to see 60 miles away and a full 360° around them.”
However, if hiking isn’t really you’re thing, there are three much gentler guided walks up and around the hills where the views are still fantastic and amazing birdlife sightings are common. After the walk, guests can then climb into a kayak and enjoy an easy paddle back to the lodge.
For more information contact Charl.