“If you see a snake, just stand still and call me.”
Those were the words that my friend Aisata Fatima Bah Catherine Tallulah Pulham Karen Chansa Chisha Mwange (yes, all these are her names, and she responds to them all) said to me and my friend Mabvunika upon arrival at Ntanda cottage for a girls weekend getaway.
Ntanda cottage is the kind of place that warrants such a warning because it’s built around the natural surroundings.
Located on the banks of the Kafue river off the Chingola-Solwezi road is this off-the-grid 2 bed, 1 bath cottage set on a huge privately owned farm.
With spotty network and no charging ports at all, it’s great for people who want to disconnect to reconnect (I wonder if my boss will mind me stealing her phrase like that.)
We went the weekend of Earth Hour, and it was perfect because what better place to “connect to earth” as per our tagline this year? Well, it turns out that as a spokesperson, I needed to be a bit more reachable for interviews and the like. In my defence, I was embodying the spirit of Earth Hour.
How to get there:
It’s an easy two and half-hour drive from Kitwe, and the road is good enough for low cars. We drove in a Toyota Belta, and apart from missing the turn once we got onto the road that leads to Solwezi, it was fairly easy to find. The only roadblock we encountered was a herd of cattle that gave us a stare-down before lazily moving away.
Recommended: lots of snacks and good music
What to pack:
I should probably have written about what to pack before writing about how to get there, but oh well!
Previously known as Monkey Cottage because of the monkeys that swing around in the early mornings, Ntanda cottage is self-catering, and the owner provided a gas stove and pots, pans, plates and cups. That means you’ll have to do a grocery run for food that will keep over a few days, because there is no fridge. You can buy charcoal and some meat from the farm once you get there.
This weekend, Aisata Fatima Bah Catherine Tallulah Pulham Karen Chansa Chisha Mwange was our designated cook, and she fed us so well! I learnt what is now my staple noodle-bondwe(wild spinach) stir fry from her that weekend.
We also carried our own drinking water (a 20L container, as opposed to multiple bottles, because environmental sustainability is important to all of us) and other beverages, adult and otherwise.
There is a splash pool, so we took our swimming costumes but never used them because somehow the pool just didn’t look as appealing in person. I imagine kids would love it, though. Growing up, we had a fish pond at my house, and my bestie and I spent countless hours jumping in and out. The water was definitely not as clear as Ntanda Cottage's splash pool.
There is no electricity in this house, apart from three solar-operated bulbs outside and in the kitchen and bathroom. It would be wise to carry some battery-operated torch lights. We didn’t have any, so we made do with our phones until they lost charge.
Where you’ll be:
This cottage can sleep five people comfortably. The “Master” bedroom has a double bed with a lovely view of the river by way of the full glass panel that leads outside.
The second bedroom features three single beds and has two windows. One overlooks the “monkey tree”, and the other looks out onto the backyard.
There is hot running water. However, the water is pumped directly from the river with no filtration process.
We all developed some kind of skin reaction, and I still have the scar from the ringworm I got on the inside of my elbow.
I’m not sure how to counter this, but perhaps an antiseptic soap? And maybe not taking frequent showers. We showered the Friday evening we arrived, twice on Saturday and the morning before we left on Sunday. I could have probably skipped the Saturday night shower.
Needless to say: do not drink this water or brush your teeth with it (I did the latter)🤭
What to do:
Nothing. Just sleep. I always wake up at 12 noon on Saturdays. But at Ntanda cottage, I woke up at 11, had brunch with the girls and then went down for a nap around 2 pm. So so relaxing!
Take a walk or cycle around. But be warned. There is a very aggressive sheep. We encountered it as we walked around the farm, and it lowered its horns and chased down Aisata Fatima Bah Catherine Tallulah Pulham Karen Chansa Chisha Mwange and me for a few meters 😂. The burst of adrenaline was needed, I guess.
Share a drink with the owner over an open fire. The owner is an old white man of British Zimbabwean origin who lives on the property. He is welcoming, helpful, funny and knowledgeable on a lot of subjects. We had actually just come from touring his side of the farm when that cheeky ram chased us.
I'm not one to gatekeep enjoyment, so you can call or WhatsApp Kerry, the owner, if you want to book.