Northern Zambia. Shiwa N’gandu to Kapiysha Hot Springs. 22- 24th November 2012
After leaving the Great North Road, I drove along a dirt track until I came to a surreal visual. The scene was old, English countryside brick houses and an avenue of eucalyptus trees leading up to a huge country estate in the middle of Africa.
The land was bought by Stewart Gore-Browne, a colonial boundary commissioner who stumbled across Shiwa N’gandu (the estate) in 1914 and deemed it picturesque enough to be the setting for the house of his dreams. After he died, the house fell into decay, that is, until it came into the care of Jo and Charley Harvey who restored it to its former glory.
I am staying in the Chitele room, named after Chief Chitele, who supposedly stayed here on a visit with Gore-Browne. Being at altitude it gets pretty chilly at night and it’s very welcomed when the ladies come and light the fire in the room at around 4pm. The warm glow sets quite the scene alongside the hunting trophies on the walls from Gore-Browne’s days. There is also no electricity nor MTN cell phone reception and I am going a little cold-turkey from all my digital gadgets.
Jo and Charley are treating me very well indeed, they took me on a drive around the property – there are plenty of magnificent vistas and loads of birds and game to see. We even visited the lake which captured Gore-Browne’s imagination, it was this same lake where David Livingstone lost his dog to a crocodile and it’s said that this is where he completed his final writing before his death.
Apart from the beautiful surroundings, the house is just so full of stories. I could spend days looking through all the photo albums and diaries that Gore-Browne kept, soaking up the bygone years. The Harvey family are related to the late Gore-Browne and they have some great stories to tell, it was an absolute pleasure sitting in the lounge for drinks and dinner with them – never a dull day working the land I hear. I suddenly felt very inspired being there and I am now determined to find myself a ‘project’ for when I get back.
After a good night’s rest I went off to Kapishya Hot Springs with another Harvey, Mark. It’s only 20kms down the road and yet it’s so-o-o different. The vegetation is tropical – green and fresh and the chalet design has a distinct Thai/Indonesian feel. There is a campsite too.
Of course there are the hot springs themselves, which are completely natural. I wish I could’ve stayed longer as there is so much to do! Apart from walking the bird trail, floating and swimming in the river and springs, there is a beautiful new spa offering a variety of massages and treatments. Unfortunately all I had time for was a dip in the springs.
Incidentally, Mark’s wife is a brilliant cook. She made us a scrumptious curry and supposedly does some mean stir fries too. After sharing a bottle of Italian Prosecco in the middle of ‘darkest Africa’, I decided to call it a night as I had a long drive the next day. My next destination, only 250km from Shiwa N’gandu, is an enchanting manor on a huge estate in the middle of Zambia with a fascinating history and stories to tell as the crow flies, but owing to a flooded river I had to take a lo-o-ong detour around Lusaka to get to South Luangwa National Park.
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