Rock art represents the earliest form of human creativity and can provide an amazing insight into ancient cultures. This is why the team at Pumulani was so excited when they found some undiscovered rock art not too far from the lodge.
On the southern end of Lake Malawi is Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park includes the various islands, sandy beaches and the forested hills around Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear. It’s within these hills that Robin Pope Safaris’ Pumulani Lodge discovered some unique rock art.
Little is known about the paintings, except that they depict the people and animals that would have been found at the time. Some of the rock art is Chewa (a local tribe) in origin, and others are from Batwa hunter-gatherers that lived in the area several hundred years ago. Chewa agriculturalists, whose ancestors migrated to the area during the late Iron Age, practised rock painting until well into the 20th century. The Chewa introduced painting with white clay, whereas the previous inhabitants, Batwa hunter-gatherers, had a tradition of painting in red. This makes it easy to distinguish between the two.
The sites can be found near the lodge, after a 15-minute car journey we set off on foot for 20 minutes, or alternatively, a gentle mountain bike ride will take 45-minutes to get to the sites.
The art found in these sites, which have a cultural significance as these hills were the location for traditional rites of passage and religious ceremonies, record significant initiation ceremonies and ritual practices that took place. Many of the recorded traditions persist in Chewa society to this day.
Roughly a one and half hours away from Pumulani, is Chongoni, another World Heritage Site. This site has the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa with over 127 locations and is a great option for a day visit from Pumulani Lodge.