Reviews of Shiwa Ng'andu
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Shiwa Ng'andu review
Just an amazing place and an amazing family with amazing pets and attitude to life!
Lovely historic building and although Jo & Charlie will probably be collating the family archives for ever more their own history is equally impressive. Combining a colonial past with cattle farming and a private wildlife reserve might sound ambitious but it works and it just feels pure and crazy Africa. Walks are available and we were shown over different parts of the estate. Hearing Charlie's past hunting exploits are worth a visit alone!
Slightly surprised that some of our fellow travellers had never even heard of Shiwa. It's unique in so many ways and should have a great future. Highly recommended.
an old house with history and a huge farm
Shiwa surprised us as the activities on the huge farm are so interesting, and the village children such fun. People are busy all day and everywhere, and so quite unlike the quiet bushcamps in Luangwa Valley. No predators means easy walking around the farm areas and up the hill. There are wild mammals all around which include rare Sable, Sitatunga, Letchwe and Eland readily viewable. They organise swops with other private reserves so as to get a good balance of species. Jo is an excellent bird guide and took us all round the varied parts of their estate.
It has a fascinating history as a House with an English Tradition and the important role played by Gore-Brown towards Zambian Independence in 1964 with Kaunda. The archives are in good shape and photos and original documents abound. It has the original garden layout, trees planted to his design and many cool rooms. It is a lovely spot with hills, lake, lots of space, and a local village with school and hospital. Plenty to see and do and a 3 day visit works well as a minimum.
It was cold in early Oct because of the 1500 metres height, but fires are lit every evening in bedrooms and main areas. A fleece or jacket is essential even then, whereas in Luangwa valley it was 33C at least.
Jo & Charlie could not be more friendly and hospitable, and they really put themselves out to show us how they run a successful farm and wildlife reserve such as Shiwa. Their enthusiasm and energy amazed us. Long may they continue!
Shiwa Ng'andu review
Charlie and Jo were excellent hosts spending so much time with us treating us almost as one of the family. Jo knew of our interest in the history of Shiwa and gave us a lot of her time telling us about it.
It was a different and illuminating experience of a unique history and farming in Africa.
Top Dogs of Shiwa Ng'andu
A treasure. Unique. Extraordinary.
There are so many facets to Shiwa. The landscape and variety of terrain is beautiful and walks were enhanced by the knowledge and enthusiasm of our companion/guide, whether that was Boyd, a local guide, or our hosts themselves, Jo and Charlie Harvey. The variety and richness of bird life is captivating, as is the opportunity to see a diversity of antelope species, zebra and wildebeest in the expanding game reserve.
The farm itself and the challenges faced by such an enterprise is fascinating, with the necessity of hard edged commercialism being counterbalanced by the Harvey's inability to say no to every waif and stray of all sizes, many nursed backed to health from injuries and illness.
The fundamental reason for ourselves and I suspect many to visit, is the extraordinary history of the place. The reality does not disappoint. It is palpable, surrounding you at every step, and even those devoid of any interest in times gone by, cannot help but be caught up in the events and dramas of the lives of Stewart Gore-Brown and his family. The original documents, letters, diaries and prolific and exceptional photographs, spanning much of the 20th Century bring the history to life. The relevance is enhanced by the immediate family connections and the ongoing endeavours of S.G-B's grandson and family to maintain Shiwa as a viable enterprise. Even out teenage sons were captivated!!
Do not expect modern, luxurious amenities. Readily flowing hot water and the cosseting frills of a 5 star hotel will not be found here. A warming Mopani wood fire greeting you when you return to your room in the cool of the evening, fabulous generous food and heart warming, enthralling hospitality is what Shiwa is all about. Jo, Charlie, their family and friends were the absolute stars of our experience at Shiwa. Their stories, their willingness to share their home and the events of their lives which are every bit as fascinating and compelling as the history of the place, made this an incredible three nights and without doubt one of the absolute highlights of our trip.
Seize the opportunity to visit and bathe in the nearby Kapisha hot springs. There is a lodge and campsite there surrounded by beautiful gardens, run by Mark Harvey (wonderful raconteur!) and it is definitely worth a stop-over.
And of course, the dogs; Mali, Bella, Ray, Fox and Phoebe. Stars of the show, stuff of legends and enough material for a Walt Disney trilogy!
Shiwa Ng'andu review
What can I say? Shiwa is a once in a lifetime experience and one that none of us will ever forget. It's everything we hoped it would be and very much more. We absolutely loved it.
Jo and Charlie Harvey are so generous with their time and as well as the wonderful bird walk, visit to the graves of the people killed by the crocs and mountain climb, the tour of the archives was one of the most fascinating things I have ever experienced and my companions were equally entranced. We loved the extraordinary house, the spectacular location, Jo and Charlie, their staff and the lovely Fran, who is helping with the archives, as well as the delightful menagerie of animals. We felt like very special guests and that is a great skill. Thank you.
It's difficult to grade Shiwa - it doesn't really fit into the boxes.
Another enjoyable stay with Jo and Charley
This was our second trip to Shiwa and we enjoyed it just as much as last time. Jo and Charley are excellent hosts and make you feel really welcome and involved in their day to day activities.
It was interesting to see how the farm had progressed from last time, catch up on some of the gossip and see the progress in organising the archives which are fascinating- you could easily spend several days in the tower room reading the letters and looking at all the photographs.
The riding with Steve and Lucy was very good with fit well trained horses and plenty of opportunity for long canters through the woods and along the lakeside. All this plus walks, drives and bird watching means there is plenty to go back and do for another visit in the future.
Shiwa Ng'andu review
A unique experience. We weren't sure exactly what to expect, but were included into the Harvey family's activities and learnt a lot about farming in that part of Zambia as well as the history of Shiwa which we had read about. Charlie and Jo make great hosts and are full of enthusiasm for all their various projects.
The accomodation is not 5 star luxury, having been spoilt at the camps we felt the bathroom could definitely do with upgrading, but the food was good and the company convivial as Jo and Charlie had friends staying on two of our three nights.
Anyone who stays here must be willing to get involved and be swept along by daily events, although the option to sit under the tree or read in the library also exists. Either way it will be a memorable experience which we would recommend.
Living history at Shiwa Ng'andu
For anyone with an interest in the history of Zambia and the colonial period then a visit to Shiwa N'gandu is a must. It is important to note that this is a much different experience from a safari camp and while there is some wildlife viewing and excellent birding opportunities this is not a resort or safari destination. Rather it is a working farm and a slice of life in rural Zambia. The opportunity to talk with Charlie and Jo about the past, present and potential future of the region is as interesting as the estate itself. We also enjoyed the beautiful but demanding hike to the top of Nachipala hill.
The Manor House itself is fascinating as are the archives of the writings of Sir Stewart Gore Brown. The home is a museum in itself and the enormous work that has gone into preventing it from being reclaimed by the bush is a full time and ongoing challenge. Guests reside in the home and are treated as family visitors rather than just a "hotel guest". The home has a generator for power during the evening but depends on solar power for other times so keep your flashlight/torch handy! We found it to be an interesting change of pace from the standard safari and well worth the trip.
Shiwa Ng'andu review
Jo and Charlie welcomed us as if we were family and made our visit extremely enjoyable and very special.Read more about the whole trip
Shiwa Ng'andu review
A wonderful experience in a wonderful place. Charlie, Jo and Emma were extremely hospitable and friendly, with nothing too much trouble. We loved hearing about the history of the estate, particularly the years not covered by The Book (Africa House). It was fascinating to hear how Charlie is making his grandfather's dream come true.
The atmosphere is one of a country house party. We also appreciated how the family welcomed our pilot as well. (sounds grander than it was, but the charter pilot stayed with us for two nights as well as they had no other jobs for him at the time).
We enjoyed all the activities, including birding in the beautiful garden and by the Lake, the tour of the farm and the visit to Kapisha Hot Springs where we discovered that Charlie's brother Mark used to drink in a pub in our village when he was a student. As there are less than 500 residents, this is something odf a coincidence.
The food was excellent despite the apparent late arrival of the supply truck (we didn't notice) and I'm looking forward to trying Jo's Boerworst recipe.
On the last morning Jo and Charlie arranged for us to go up Nachipala Bareback Hill which was hard work but well worth the effort with fantastic views all around.