Munda Wanga, Botanical Garden or Public Park?
Trip Start Oct 17, 2006
13Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
After borrowing £4000 from a local building society, he hired two more workers and began building. They created numerous terraces that fit naturally into the designed landscape and also added a narrow, Chinese inspired bridge across the river. Soon, another bridge spanned the river and they began to add lawns and transplant numerous local trees and shrubs into the developing garden along with the many imported plants. However, the problem of water supply soon became an issue as the garden grew larger. Ralph then applied for permission to pump water from the river directly but was denied and told he'd have to draw the water by hand, bucket by bucket. Unfortunately, that was not an appropriate solution and he turned to a drilling company to dig a bore hole. Up to this point, ever attempt to dig a bore hole had ended in failure but the plants wouldn't survive without one so they tried once again. Finally, on the fifth day of drilling, they hit an underground stream at 96 feet down and the water burst forth. With more water than he could have hoped for, Ralph set about building a system of streams and waterfalls and an enormous 40,000 gallon reservoir that he then converted into a swimming pool
In 1961, Ralph's financial situation became dire. He had spent most of his salary on building Munda Wanga. To pay the mounting costs, he also cashed in his life insurance policy and pension and even sold his personal possessions to keep the Munda Wanga chugging along. After exhausting every avenue, he was finally allowed to charge admission to the garden as the government realized Munda Wanga's growing importance as a tourist attraction. With the fresh infusion of money, more staff were hired and more water features were added. By 1964, the garden had expanded to 40 acres and accommodated five new lily ponds, eight fountains, two more waterfalls and countless arbours. Now the garden boasted over 200 species of trees, 50 types of succulents, 30 different orchids, 50 varieties of climbers/creepers and numerous aquatic plants, ornamental grasses, bromeliads and roses. Things were going well for Munda Wanga, and it even played host to several government minister's meeting following Zambia's independence in 1965, where the then President Dr
By the late 1960's, fuel rationing had been introduced due to border closures in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. This caused the visitor numbers of the garden to drop drastically and without that steady income, the upkeep and maintenance costs soon became too much. There was only one answer, Ralph Sanders had to sell his beloved garden. The decision was made; Ralph moved out and the Ministry for Tourism along with the Zambia National Tourist Board took over control of the garden. Things progressed well for Munda Wanga but in 1978, its founder passed away. He had always wanted to be buried under the path near his favourite water fountain and even specified such in his will; but, instead, he was interred in the Leopards Hill Cemetery, where he rests to this very day. After his passing, things slowly started to go south for Munda Wanga. In 1982, funding from the Ministry for Tourism dwindled and the gardens were taken over by the National Hotel and Development Corporation but sadly they could not turn the gardens around and in 1989 passed it on to ZAL Holdings Ltd
It is in this present incarnation that I have come to Munda Wanga. I most likely visited the gardens in the early 80's as a very young child but have not since been back during any of my previous visits back to Zambia. Now, armed with several years of horticultural training, I've found myself in the perfect position to volunteer my services at an institution badly in need of such services and all the help they can get
The History of Munda Wanga, as summed up by myself, was mostly obtained from their publication A Read on the Wild Side Issue 7.