Shiwa Ng’andu – a piece of England in the middle of absolute nowhere in Zambia! Not long after arriving in Zambia, I read The Africa House by Christina Lamb, I could not put it down and was intrigued from the moment I did. The house is owned and lived in by the grand-child of Gore-Brown, Charlie Harvey and his wife Jo.
We visited the house whilst camping at Kapishya Hot Springs on route to Ndole Bay on Lake Tanganyika. Shiwa is a lived in home, and a working farm, so is very informal in a sense and there is no café or so plan accordingly when you do visit. I would recommend getting in touch in advance to arrange a tour.
Jo Harvey gave us the tour of parts of the house and she is an absolute wealth of information, she really needs to write a book about Shiwa Ng’andu and the ancestry involved. We were so short on time, but I could have spent hours on the estate and listening to the history. Unfortunately, our shortage of time is reflected in the terrible pictures I took. I just snapped quickly as I wanted to be in the moment and absorb it all too, not just through a lens. Good excuse for me to return!
Adjoining the side of the house is the chapel, with wooden pews and traditional stained-glass windows. Every corner of the house is filled with the history of the Gore-Browne family. I was thrilled to hear there are plans of setting up room by room audio recorded guides for tours in future.
Being in the library was like being transported back in time – the walls are lined with books, and every bit of furniture holds antiques and the rugs accommodate a sprawling hound or two! It is indeed a dogs life! The room is set on the first floor, and opens onto a small balcony with views down the avenue of trees in the garden out towards Lake Shiwa.
We viewed just a small portion of the antique china, silverware and crystal that is housed in glass fronted cabinets in the dining room. I worry about a courier delivery arriving in Zambia in one piece; how they got all that from England, all those years ago, by ship and then across Zambia on foot, flummoxes me! All the furniture and artwork at Shiwa is original from Gore-Brownes time, and the Harvey family are living amongst it all. It must be so special to be immersed in such roots and history all around you every day. I was so distracted by it all that I didn’t even get a picture of the dining room itself!
For the machinery enthusiasts, there was this beauty of an old steam traction engine, which I will confess to retaining absolutely zero information about it. But my friends were well enthused. “The B.S.A Company bought this engine for their rubber factory. It reached Kashitu Station in 1912 and was driven by Chiwaya along a forest track cut by C.D Simpson, and reached the Chambezi crossing in 1914. This track eventually became part of the Great North Road. In 1923 the engine was bought by Sir Stewart Gore-Browne and used at Shiwa Ng’andu for many years.” Well done Colleen for at least taking a photo of the information, and for finding this old newspaper clipping online.
We took a drive down to the causeway and went for a mini stroll as we were quite short on time. Within a few minutes we spotted our first Palm-Nut Vulture; he was quite far but we got a very clear sighting of him, and a hazy photograph. The estate has beautiful old farm buildings, workshops, stables and dairies. Often times I did wonder if I was in England!
Chatting to Jo afterwards, I discovered there is the Impandala Farm House which is self-catering, available to let near Shiwa Ng’andu, on the estate. This is also an option I would very much consider for a return trip. To stay in the house would be a rather special treat as it is quite a few $$$ per night.
The other option is to stay at the nearby Kapishya Hot Springs where there is camping as well as fully or self catered accommodation available.