Reviews of Shiwa Ng'andu
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
We both loved, loved, loved Shiwa Ng'andu.
Charlie and Jo were wonderful hosts, the house has a wonderful feel, the history is fascinating, the community is so interesting, the wildlife great, and the dogs and farm tour such a bonus!
Remarkable experience - well worth it
We didn't read that carefully about what we were letting ourselves in for going to Shiwa. It isn't a plush manor house but is a totally absorbing and busy experience across so many dimensions. A unique piece of Zambian and British history, a wonderful location, quite extraordinary owners in Charlie and Jo, a massive farm operation and extraordinary archive of documents.
Charlie and Jo are fabulous hosts - how they run the farm, manage a game reserve, sort the archives, restore the house, care for 1,000 people living on the estate, work with NGOs to improve the facilities in the area and still be available throughout the day to be the perfect hosts is unbelievable.
We spent three days with them and it wasn't enough. Over breakfast, lunch and dinner with Charlie and Jo we managed to get a small insight to the remarkable place and Charlie's family. It is an incredible operation. We also met some of their friends - some passing through and some resident on the estate.
The meals were great, totally from locally produced ingredients.
Well worth the visit to see a totally different part of Zambia from the Luangwa Valley and to get to know in a small way a remarkable couple. We didn't have enough time in the archives and we look forward to reading Jo's account of life in Shiwa from Sir Stewart Gore- Browne's arrival to the current day. Keep writing Jo!
Shiwa Ng'andu review
We had a wonderful stay at Shiwa.
Jo and Charlie were wonderful hosts and the rest of the staff were very friendly and attentive. The house and grounds are a gem and the game and lake were very attractive and appealing.
A fascinating and wonderful place
Having read The Africa House, it was like a dream coming to Shiwa. Jo and Charles Harvey were marvellous hosts and guides. I loved the relaxed atmosphere, to get an insight into life at the huge estate, and of course, to hear more about S. Gore-Browne and his achivements. It was wonderful to see how well Jo and Charles looked after all the animals on the farm. Being an animal lover myself, I found it heart-warming; I shall never forget "the Paradise Gang" and the 5 dogs!
It was also interesting to visit the local school and hospital.
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.