Gibb's Farm: Our full report
Originally built by German settlers in 1929, Gibb's Farm is one of Northern Tanzania's oldest guesthouses.Located half way between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, it's surrounded by tropical gardens and has great views over a coffee-plantation.
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 cozy areas to unwind after a busy day on safari.
There's also a separate room displaying work by a local artist who can often be found painting at his easel on the verandah. There is always a resident artist who stays at Gibb's Farm who tends to stay for about three months at a time. The artwork is displayed throughout the farmhouse and in the guest cottages too – many of which is also for sale.
There is a small, well-stocked bar, but you can also order your drinks from the friendly, attentive, staff, so there's no need to leave the comfort of your armchair by the fire!
The recently extended dining room is split over two levels and has 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 had, 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 ten acres of organic gardens.
The well-stocked gift shop has a particularly good assortment of souvenirs and curios, ranging from local jewellery to wooden carvings, artwork, local maps and wildlife books. They even sell Gibb's Farm homegrown organic Arabica coffee.
The outside areas at Gibb's Farm are extensive. There are various well-tended gardens, including a herb garden, a cactus garden, a rose garden, a medicine garden and an enormous vegetable garden, birdlife is abundant as a result. Expect to see (or hear) tropical boubous, African pygmy kingfishers and golden-winged sunbirds to name a few.
Stone pathways lead from the main house, through the gardens, to the 21 cottages. Although the rooms are fairly close together, careful planting ensures they're completely private. The cottages are spacious and bright and fitted with high-quality furniture. They have been designed to reflect the history of the farm, with polished eucalyptus-wood floors, tongue-and-groove boarding painted a pale green, beamed ceilings and stone walls.
When we last visited in February 2018 several of the cottages had been recently refurbished, and felt fresh and bright. 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-size beds with cream linen and colourful cushions. French doors lead out onto a private balcony with views over the gardens, or the coffee plantations beyond. There is a central stone fireplace which is built into the wall separating the bathroom and the bedroom – this keeps the cottages really cozy.
The bathroom, separated by a sliding door, has green polished cement floors, a large indoor shower, a separate bath, double basins and an enclosed toilet. A huge carved stone bath sits in front of a large window with lush planting outside. Double doors lead from the bathroom to a private outdoor shower.
On our last visit a 25 x 4 meter swimming pool was under construction, and we were told that this was due to be complete by August 2018. Future projects at Gibbs Farm include plans to convert an old stables in to a small coffee shop and spa, however it is unclear if or when this is work is likely to happen.
Gibb's Farm makes a great base from which to take part in various activities. The main reason for staying here is to visit Ngorongoro Crater and/or Lake Manyara National Park, both of which are about a two-hour drive away. However, there are plenty of local activities in the immediate vicinity of the farm too. There are walks and mountain biking, as well as evening talks by their resident naturalist. Spa treatments are also currently available within the comfort of your own room. You can choose to take part in as much or as little as you like.
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, 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 into the conservation area, plus a little 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, while renovating its rooms to a very high standard in recent years. Strong ties with the local community, high-quality food, a wide choice of activities for energetic travellers, as well as tranquility if you’re seeking rest and relaxation, make Gibbs Farm a brilliant option in this area.
- Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommend a minimum two-night stay, preferably three nights, in order to experience everything that Gibb’s Farm and the surrounding area has to offer.
- Gibbs Farm is a two-hour drive from Arusha, or a 30-minute drive from Manyara airstrip.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- Gibb's Farm is a working farm and takes their farm-to-table ethos seriously. The majority of the food served at Gibb's is fresh and homegrown – everything is organic and the animals are reared free-range. The result is some of the freshest food we have been fortunate to come across. Gibb’s Farm is a great choice for foodies.
On our last visit in February 2017, we were treated to a fantastic buffet Breakfast of muffins, fruit, cereals, yoghurts and then a cooked breakfast, with a choice of eggs, sausage, bacon and tomato to choose from.
For lunch we tucked in to a delicious buffet, which included a selection of stews, quiches, salads and freshly baked bread.
Dinneris a three-course sit down meal. Last time we started with courgette flowers that had been stuffed and lightly fried in tempura batter. This was followed by tilapia, an East African white fish, which had been grilled and served with a lemon sauce; this was accompanied by home grown vegetables. Our meal was then finished off with a trio of refreshing sorbets. Everything was really beautifully cooked and fresh.
- Family holidays
- At Gibb’s Farm, children of all ages can learn about farming, help with cows and pigs, go on guided walks, mountain biking or play in the garden during Tanzania family holidays. Cots and highchairs are provided.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Gibb's is well situated for those who enjoy walking. You can choose from guided or unguided walks in the area: a farm walk, a garden walk, a village walk, the Ngorongoro Forest Walk or a farm walk. There are walks to suit all tastes, ages and levels of fitness.
- See ideas for Walking
- 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 childminder, however parents should note that they are not qualified childminders and are members of staff at Gibb’s.
Children can wander around the farm and help milk the cows and feed the pigs.
- 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.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Gibbs Farm
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Gibb's Farm have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24 hour electricity and plugs in the room so that guests can charge their camera batteries.
- There is good cellphone reception and free WiFi is available throughout the property – please note that some rooms have better signal than others.
- TV & radio
- There is no television at Gibbs Farm.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Bottled water is supplied in all of the rooms for drinking.
The Home of Organic Food
Continuing the legacy of founders Margaret and Jim Gibb, environmentally-friendly initiatives at Gibbs Farm still exist today to preserve the natural surroundings and the African culture and community. What sets the lodge apart is the farm life experience that provides guests with home grown organic products and allows them to become part of an authentic Tanzanian community project.
The ‘farm-to-table’ cuisine achieved through a home-grown array of organic fruit and vegetables and locally raised meats make Gibbs Farm be regarded as one of the best safaris for culinary experiences. Brightening up visitors’ mornings, home grown Arabica coffee is served with organic milk freshly supplied by Gibbs’ heard of cows. During the mid-afternoon heat, guests can enjoy afternoon tea in one of the eight gardens on estate filled with indigenous plants, whilst experiencing impeccable service that reveal the authentic Tanzanian hospitality. Furthermore, Gibbs sees sustainability as a partnership between staff, locals and tourists, and offers many activities that allow visitors to partake in its sustainable efforts. For example, guests can engage in the extensive work with the local community during the morning bread making ritual, or can join the chefs each morning as they harvest fresh organic produce from the 10-acre fruit and vegetable garden.
Over the years we’ve been very impressed by the dedication with which Gibbs Farm has worked to conserve their environment and operate very sustainably – and we’re really pleased that this has led to them receiving various accolades and awards in recent years.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a first-aid kit and some of the staff are trained in how to use it. The nearest doctor and clinic is in Karatu, a 15-minute drive away. They also have links to the flying doctor service in Nairobi.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity from Gibb's Farm. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it’s vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are askaris (watchmen) on duty day and night.
- Fire safety
- All rooms have fire extinguishers
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is available at an extra charge of between $1-$4 US dollars per item.
- All the cottages have an electronic safe.
- Accepted payment on location
- Gibb's Farm accepts Visa and Mastercard, usually at no extra cost, as well as cash in US dollars, British pounds, euros and Tanzanian shillings. Note that American Express is not accepted.
Other lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Alternative places to stay in this same area.