Gibbs Farm is located on a lush hillside with views over the coffee plantations.
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. On our visit in April 2015 the resident artist, Athuman Katongo, was making various pieces out of recycled paper. 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 20 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.
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 blue-and-cream linen. 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 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.
There are plans to build a swimming pool towards the end of 2015, which would be a great addition to what is already a beautiful property.
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, 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 like. (NB: It’s essential that you read the Quadbike warning in the ‘Health & Safety’ section below for our comments on insurance issues regarding this activity.)
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.
Our viewGibb'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.
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.
Directions: Gibbs Farm is a two-hour drive from Arusha, or a 30-minute drive from Manyara airstrip.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Privately owned
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.
On our last visit in April 2015, 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 had a starter of chicken noodle soup served with freshly baked bread. Then there was a choice of beef stew, pork stroganoff and lamb chops – all served with rice – two different types of quiches and at least ten different selections of salad. A separate dessert table offered fresh-fruit salad, apple-and-walnut tart, pineapple tart and rice pudding
Dinneris a three-course sit down meal. Last time we had homemade vegetable soup accompanied by warm freshly baked bread, followed by tender steak and farm-grown vegetables, and finished our meal off with chocolate cake. Everything was really beautifully cooked and fresh.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Gibbs Farm, however premium wines and spirits are extra.
Further dining info: Room service is available
Family holidays: At Gibb’s Farm, a tastefully furnished old farmhouse with beamed ceilings and stone floors, 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 more ideas for Family holidays 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 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.
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.
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.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: There is 24 hour electricity and plugs in the room so that guests can charge their camera batteries.
Communications: 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: Borehole
Water supply notes: Bottled water is supplied in all of the rooms for drinking.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
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
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available at an extra charge.
Money: 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.