Gibbs Farm is a historic and very interesting place; well worth visiting in its own right.
Gibb's Farm: Our full report
Gibb's Farm was built by German settlers in 1929 and is situated half way between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. The main farmhouse was built nearly 80 years ago; it is one of northern Tanzania's oldest guesthouses.
Walking into the main farmhouse at Gibb's is like walking into an old English country home. With low, beamed ceilings and polished stone floors, it retains a colonial feel. Sofas, armchairs, benches and coffee tables are dotted on rugs around the various rooms, in front of a wood-burning stove or an open fire. Blooms of flowers are placed in tall vases and floor-standing lamps add to the cosy atmosphere.
The L-shaped dining room at Gibb's Farm is painted white and is fairly stark compared to the rest of the rooms. There are a few African prints and carvings on the walls and some soft lighting. At the end of the room, light floods in through a glass wall, which has lovely views of the garden. A roaring log fire warms the room in the evenings – due to the altitude, is gets pretty chilly. When we last stayed here, we were told of plans to extend the veranda, so that everyone can eat outside.
There is a very small bar which is close to both the sitting room area and the dining room, but you can also order your drinks from the friendly staff, so you don't have to leave the comfort of your armchair!
A small (but very well-stocked) gift shop next has a particularly good assortment of gifts and curios, ranging from batik prints and jewellery, to wooden carvings, local maps and wildlife books.
The outside areas at Gibb's Farm are extensive. Gardens and a cottage garden surround the house and cottages. Just outside the main farmhouse there is a terraced area, perfect for a cool drink amidst the scent of a multitude of flowers.
Paved, stone paths lead from the main house, through the farm gardens, to the rooms. For 2008, Gibbs Farm has two different types of rooms: standard rooms and farm cottages . The old standard rooms are very basic, small rooms lacking in character – and were the norm here until about 2006. They have been here for many years are very outdated.
The farm cottages have been recently built and are much larger, brighter rooms – fitted out with very 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 . Expect exposed stone and wood, and judicious use of pastel colours and Laura Ashley-like prints.
Gibb's makes a great base from which to take part in many activities. There are plenty of walks to go on, cycling, mountain biking, a spa and evening talks, amongst other things. You can choose to take part in as much or as little as you want here; if you prefer, you can wander around the farm, 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. Last time we visited (September 2007), a lovely two-three hour walk took us to a spectacular waterfall and an 'elephant cave', where the elephants of the forest dig for mineral. (We were charged US$20 entry for the conservation area). The pace is quite gently, but there are steep slopes, and the guide was knowledgeable, friendly and very enthusiastic.
Gibb's Farm also has a spa. This is, however, not a typical spa. It is run by Dr. Labiki who learnt his craft from his grand father. Not only is Dr. Labiki passionate about what he does, but also knowledgeable in the traditional healing methods that have been used in his culture for generations. This is a traditional, Maasai style spa. It is possible to enjoy a treatment from the comfort of your farm cottage, in the forest, under an ancient Oreteti Tree or in a traditional Maasai hut.
Gibb's Farm is an old place; a peaceful and friendly retreat en route to the Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti. 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 feels like a very 'grounded' place, with strong ties with the local community – and it prides itself on the quality of the food that it produces and serves.
For the guest, it's friendly and relaxing, and we felt that that it would suit guests of most ages and tastes. It's a particularly good spot for the energetic, with a wide choice of activities to take part in – quite apart from the possibilities to drive up and see the Crater.
Ideal length of stay: 2 / 3 nights
Directions: 10-minutes' drive off the main Karatu road.
Staff: Guesthouse Manager: Joseph Lohay
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Gibb's Farm is a working farm; 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.
Breakfast at Gibbs is a cold buffet of muffins, fruit, cereals and yoghurts and the choice of a fully cooked breakfast.
Lunch is a relaxed meal at Gibbs. There is a choice of cold meats, salads and quiches.
Dinneris a three course sit down meal. On our last visit to Gibb's we started with home-grown and 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. In 2007, a beer cost roughly $US3 when we visited in September 2007.
Family holidays: Gibb's Farm is a very family-orientated lodge. There is plenty to keep both adults and children busy – from two hour walks in the NCA to 45-minute walks around the farm. Families would find a visit to the traditional African Spa not only relaxing but also educational and fun.See more ideas for Family holidays in Tanzania
Solo Travel: The staff at Gibb's are friendly, accommodating and attentive and would put the solo traveller at ease straight away. There are plenty of activities to do in the area, including walks, mountain biking and relaxing with a traditional Maasai healer in the traditional spa.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Wellbeing: Gibb's Farm hasn't got a 'spa' in the western sense of the word – but they have worked for years to develop tradition Maasai treatments into a form that can be appreciated by guests. Consultations and treatments with a Maasai healer are practiced here – and are well worth trying.See more ideas for Wellbeing in Tanzania
Walking: Gibb's is well situated for those who enjoy walking. You can choose from several guided or unguided walks in the area: a farm walk, a garden walk, a village walk, the Ngorongoro Forest Walk or a Farm-Rim walk. There are walks to suit all tastes, ages and levels of fitness.See more ideas for Walking in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Gibb's Farm.
Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available at Gibb's Farm.
Generally recommended for children: Yes - 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 take opportunities to walk around the farm and learn about farm animals and how vegetables etc are grown. Gibb's Farm has a very child friendly feel to it.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is cell phone reception at Gibb's Farm. According to the staff, the newly renovated cottages will have an internet connection in them. There is an internet connection in the library; it costs $US5 for 30 minutes. WiFi is available around the main area, for a connection charge of $US25 per day.
TV & radio: There is no television or radio at Gibbs Farm.
Health & safety
Malarial area: 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 clinic is in Karatu Town. They have links to the flying doctor in Nairobi.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are 22 askaris (guards / watchmen) on duty. Two are on duty during the day and all are on duty at night.
Fire safety: All rooms have fire extinguishers and some of the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Extra Charge
Money: Travellers cheques are accepted at Gibb's Farm. There are no safes in the rooms but it is possible to leave valuables in a central safe at reception. The new rooms at Gibb's will have safes in them.