Gibbs Farm is located on a lush hillside with views over the coffee plantations.
Gibb's Farm: Our full report
Gibb's Farm, originally built by German settlers in 1929, is one of Northern Tanzania’s oldest guesthouses. Its location half way between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater make this a great base for exploring both of these areas. It’s a lovely relaxing spot - surrounded by carefully tended tropical gardens and views of the coffee plantations beyond.
On arrival guests are led from the reception area, through the gardens, to the original farmhouse. This lovely old building still retains its colonial feel with low, beamed ceilings and polished stone floors dotted with rugs. A couple of separate lounges with sofas, armchairs and coffee tables, some with a wood-burning stove or an open fire, create cosy areas to unwind after a busy day on safari. Relax with a cup of tea or enjoy a glass of wine beside a roaring fire or outside on the verandah.
You will find a separate room here displaying work by a local artist who was present at the time of our recent visit (July 2013) - painting at his easel outside on the verandah, while guests were enjoying their lunch. Artwork by local artists is displayed throughout the farmhouse and in the guest cottages.
There is a small well-stocked bar where you can also order your drinks from the friendly staff, so you don't have to leave the comfort of your armchair!
The recently extended dining room is split over two levels with green painted floors and high beamed ceilings. Large windows make this area light and airy and offer varying views of the coffee plantations and hills beyond. There are many secluded areas outside where meals can be enjoyed, either behind the restaurant under a gazebo, or outside on the verandah under a shady umbrella. Most of the fruit, vegetables and herbs provided at Gibbs Farm are freshly picked from their own 10 acres of organic gardens.
A well-stocked gift shop has a particularly good assortment of gifts and curios, ranging from local jewelry, to wooden carvings, artwork, local maps and wildlife books. They even sell Gibbs Farms own homegrown Arabica coffee!
The outside areas at Gibb's Farm are extensive. There are various well-tended gardens ranging from a herb garden, a cactus garden, a rose garden, a medicine garden and an extensive vegetable garden. Bird-life is abundant here being attracted to the gardens - expect to see (or hear) the tropical boubou, African pygmy kingfisher or golden-winged sunbirds amongst may others.
Stone pathways lead from the main house, through the gardens, to the cottages. Although the rooms are fairly close together careful planting ensures that all the rooms are completely private. The cottages are spacious and bright and fitted out with high-quality furniture. They have been designed to reflect the history of the farm - their charm and character fits in seamlessly with the rest of Gibb's Farm – polished eucalyptus wood floors, tongue-and-groove boarding painted a pale green, beamed ceilings and stone walls offer a very relaxed feel.
Each cottage has an entrance lobby with a vase of freshly picked flowers, a lounge area with comfortable armchairs in front of a fireplace and two queen sized beds with blue and cream linen. French doors lead out onto a private balcony with views over the gardens or the coffee plantations beyond.
The bathroom is light and airy with green polished cement floors, a large indoor shower, a separate bath, double basins and an enclosed toilet. A freestanding bath sits in front of a large window with lush planting outside. Double doors lead from the bathroom to a private outdoor shower.
Gibb's Farm makes a great base from which to take part in various activities. The main reason for staying here is to visit the Ngorongoro Crater or Lake Manyara National Park, both, which are about a two hour drive away, however there are other more local activities in the more immediate vicinity of the farm. There are plenty of walks, mountain biking, a spa as well as evening talks by their resident naturalist. You can choose to take part in as much or as little as you want here; if you prefer, you can wander around the gardens, or simply relax in the farmhouse, soaking up the views over the colourful gardens and beyond, with a very tasty cup of farm grown and roasted coffee!
Gibb's Farm is immediately adjacent to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – and shares a mile-long boundary with it. See the satellite map of the area to see the clear division between the farming areas here, and the deep, dark green of the conservation area.
Guided nature walks cross this green line into the primary forest. On a previous visit to Gibbs Farm we did a lovely two hour walk up the hillside to a spectacular waterfall and an 'elephant cave', where the elephants of the forest dig for minerals. (We were charged US$10 entry for the conservation area plus extra to tip the guide). The pace is quite gentle, but there are some steeper areas. The guide was knowledgeable, friendly and very enthusiastic.
Gibb's Farm is a peaceful and friendly retreat halfway between Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. It has retained its charm and many original features, whilst renovating it rooms to very high-quality standards in the last few years. Gibb's Farm has strong ties with the local community – and it prides itself on the quality of the food that it produces and serves. It's a particularly good spot for the energetic, with a wide choice of activities to choose from – or for those who would just prefer to relax and take in the tranquil surroundings of the farm.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of a minimum of two nights, preferably three nights, in order to experience everything that Gibbs Farm and the surrounding area has to offer.
Directions: Gibbs Farm is a 2-hour road transfer from Arusha or 30 minutes from Manyara airstrip..
Owner: Privately owned
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Gibb's Farm is a working farm and food is treated seriously here. The majority of the food served at Gibb's is fresh from their own farm – where plants are raised organically, and animal husbandry is in good, free-range conditions.
On a recent visit (July 2013) we were treated to lunch, which was a fantastic buffet spread. We had a starter of chicken noodle soup served with freshly baked bread. Then there was a choice of hot food (beef stew, pork stroganoff and lamb chops – all served with rice), two different types of quiches and at least 10 different selections of salad. A separate desert buffet offered fresh fruit salad, apple and walnut tart, pineapple tart and rice pudding.
We understand that other meals could be as follows:
Breakfast at Gibbs is a buffet of muffins, fruit, cereals and yoghurts and a cooked breakfast, with a choice of eggs, sausage, bacon and tomato.
Dinner is a three course sit down meal. On a previous visit to Gibb's we started with home made soup accompanied by warm farm-baked bread. This was followed by tender steak accompanied by farm-grown vegetables. We finished our meal off with chocolate cake! All were really tasty, tender and fresh.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Gibbs Farm. A beer cost roughly US3 and a bottle of wine varies between U$25 and U$40 a bottle.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Gibb's Farm.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions here.
Special activities & services: Gibb's Farm can arrange a child minder, however parents need to note that they are not qualified child minders and are members of staff at Gibbs. Children can wander around the farm and help with milking the cows and feeding the pigs.
Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available at Gibb's Farm.
Generally recommended for children: Children would very much enjoy the grounds at Gibb's Farm. There is a lot of space for them to run around in. They can learn about the farm, feed the animals and learn how to grow vegetables. Gibb's Farm has a very child friendly feel to it.
Communications: There is cell phone reception at Gibb's Farm. There is also internet connection in the library which costs $US5 for 30 minutes. WiFi is available around the main area, which is free.
TV & radio: There is no television or radio at Gibbs Farm.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: There is a first aid kit at Gibb's Farm and some of the staff are trained to use it. The nearest doctor and clinic is in Karatu which is 15 minutes drive away . They also have links to the flying doctors service in Nairobi. They have links to the flying doctor in Nairobi.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are 22 askaris (watchmen) on duty. Two are on duty during the day and all are on duty at night.
Fire safety: All rooms have fire extinguishers
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available at an extra charge
Money: There us no currency exchange here. All the cottages have an electronic safe
Accepted payment on location: Gibb's Farm accepts visa and mastercard, at no extra cost, as well as cash in US dollars, British pounds euros and Tanzanian shillings.