Gibbs Farm is a charming and endearing place that is an alternative to plantation Lodge if you will be spending a night in the Lake Manyara area. Gibbs is a simple and unique place that has won several hotel awards. people rave about this place for its delicious organic food, serene garden setting and pleasant colonial atmosphere. Gibbs Farm is certainly a wonderful place with a long history but we think it is a bit overrated. The lodge is full of character but the rooms and facilities are a little worn and outdated. With the nearby and superior plantation Lodge going for the about the same price, its tough for us to recommend Gibbs Farm even with its charm.
We believe plantation Lodge to be a better choice then Gibbs. The accommodations and facilities at plantation Lodge are newer and nicer then those at Gibbs. plantation is also smaller, less crowded and more spread out allowing for greater privacy. However, both lodges are excellent choices and either makes a better choice then the other larger and uninviting lodges in the Lake Manyara area.
Gibbs farm dates back to the early 1900s when German settlers built the colonial farmhouse and coffee farm. The Gibbs family bought the farm in 1948 and the vegetable and flower gardens were planted. The lodge was created in 1972 and the farm has since grown and now provides wonderful organic produce to many surrounding lodges and communities.
Gibbs Farm is located in the Ngorongoro highlands next to the small town of Kiratu and is about midway between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. The lodge is situated just outside the southern edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A 45-minute drive up the crater highlands to the north takes you to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. If you head south from the lodge, you could be at the Lake Manyara park gate in about 30 minutes.
A one-night stopover at Gibbs Farm is usually conveniently integrated into our signature fly-in and drive-back itineraries after a day of exploring the Ngorongoro Crater and just before continuing down the road to Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Arusha. From the crater viewpoint at the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, it is about a 45-minute drive to Gibbs Farm. Add about another 20 to 30 minutes of transit time to any of the lodges on the Crater from the viewpoint. Lake Manyara is located only about 30 minutes from Gibbs Farm. Tarangire and Arusha are both located about 2 hours from Gibbs Farm though in opposite directions. Add about 1 hour to get from Arusha to Kilimanjaro.
For trips that include Tarangire at the beginning of a safari, a good strategy is to depart early from Tarangire and spend the day game driving in Lake Manyara before heading up to Gibbs Farm. It is about a 1.5 drive from the main gate at Tarangire to Lake Manyara. From the main gate at Lake Manyara it is another 30 minutes north to Gibbs Farm on the road to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti.
For trips that do not include Tarangire but start from Arusha, a good strategy is to depart early from Arusha and spend the day game driving in Lake Manyara before heading up to plantation. It is about a 1.5-hour drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara. From the main gate at Lake Manyara it is another 30 minutes north to Gibbs Farm.
The lodge consists of 20 rooms with en-suite bathrooms spaced throughout the gardens. The small size of the lodge combined with its colonial charm provides for a very intimate and delightful atmosphere. The rooms are simple but quaint and pleasantly decorated. Some of the rooms are equipped with fireplaces.
The main facilities, which are situated in the old farmhouse, consist of a reading room with fireplace, dinning room, bar and gift shop. There are a variety of gardens on the property that beckon you for a late afternoon or early morning walk. The vegetable garden makes a nice walking location and it attracts many different species of birds.
Food and Drink
The food at Gibbs farm is superb and will most likely be one of the highlights of your stay here. The majority of the food provided is organically grown on the surrounding farm. Breakfast consists of an assortment of cereals, breads, fruits and traditional egg dishes with home grown coffee. Lunch is buffet style and includes a wide selection of pies, vegetable dishes and salads. Four courses are offered at dinner including homemade rolls, soup, salad and vegetables and a main course meat dish. Vegetarian options are available.
Guided nature hikes from Gibbs Farm are an excellent way to stretch out those safari legs. The trails meander through the lush forest highlands and offer good views of the surrounding farmlands. One of the better walks is called the waterfall walk. This approximately two-hour walk takes you from the lodge up to a nearby waterfall and elephant caves. There are over 100 species of birds commonly seen around Gibbs and you will likely encounter many of them on your walk and on the lodge property. Don’t expect to see too much in the way of wildlife in the vicinity of the lodge. Large animals are rarely encountered. Another good walking option is to ask for a guided tour of the vegetable garden. This is a short and easy one-hour walk.
Game viewing at Lake Manyara is discussed below, as your safari itinerary will most likely incorporate a game drive in this park either immediately before or after a night at Gibbs Farm.
Lake Manyara is a beautiful little park made famous by its tree-climbing lions. The park is home to an amazing variety of birds and animals considering its small size. A visit to this serene park will greatly diversify your safari experience as the lush green jungle habitat is of stark contrast to the other parks.
The national park is roughly 125 square miles but the shallow, alkaline lake consumes the majority of this area. The park is actually tucked between the lake and the sheer rock walls of the rift valley escarpment that tower 2,000 feet above. Expect to see elephant, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, warthog, hippo, several species of antelope and loads of baboons. Lake Manyara boasts one of the highest concentrations of baboons in Africa. Cats are difficult to see here and they are much more visible in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. However, with a little luck it is possible to see the famous tree climbing lions or even the elusive leopard.
Lake Manyara is one of best the places in Africa for birdwatchers. With over 300 species including migratory birds, even the most seasoned bird enthusiast will not be disappointed. The lake itself attracts thousands of greater and lesser flamingos along with many other aquatic species.
- private game drives
- Waterfall walk
- Garden tours
- picnic lunches
- Cultural visit
- Visit to local school
- Birding from the lodge