When we were first talking about moving to Kenya, one of the biggest deciding factors for me was the opportunity to see more of East Africa. The country right at the top of my list of places to visit? Kenya’s neighbouring Tanzania.
Known for major landmarks like Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park and the beaches of Zanzibar, it’s a bucket-list destination that I hope to visit a few times while we’re based here – there’s just so much to see! But for my first visit, I was headed to a different highlight – the Ngorognoro Crater and the famed Gibb’s Farm for a photography job in January 2020. (PS. I just launched my professional photography website!)
What is Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater?
The Ngorongoro Crater is probably most famous as a Great Migration safari destination, thanks to the incredible density of animals in the Conservation Area. Although the Migration takes place from July to November, with more than 2 million animals migrating from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, you can see thousands of animals in the Crater any time you visit. In fact, its the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and is home to a staggering 25 000 animals in just 8000km2! The sheer amount of animals you can spot as far as the eye can see all year round is breathtaking. It’s an absolute must-visit safari destination!
Staying at Gibb’s Farm
Located on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, Gibb’s Farm is an almost entirely self-sustaining Eden, where days start with coffee grown and freshly roasted right there on the farm and end with a three-course feast prepared with produce harvested on the property that very day. The historic farm overlooks the great Rift Valley, offering safari travellers the opportunity to breathe deep, slow down and enjoy connecting to nature’s abundance between bucket-list safari experiences.
It’s farm life gone luxury, with some of the most welcoming and friendly staff you’re likely to come across anywhere in the world. The property is lovingly looked after by a team of dedicated experts, from the front desk “Karibu” (welcome) team, to the chicken farmers, vegetable farmers and kitchen team – who bake their own fresh breads every morning before the sun comes up. In fact, they also make their own cheeses and yogurts, and ensure that between breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, sundowner snacks and three course dinners, guests are never hungry.
The property consists of 17 cottages and 2 farm houses, which are decorated in a cozy, country farm-style aesthetic. They are all secluded enough to feel completely private, while being central enough to feel like you’re part of the working farm. Each room has an outdoor shower and a fireplace. The property is famous for serving the most incredible meals in the historic farm house, all prepared with produce lovingly grown on the property in the fertile soil surrounding the Ngorongoro Crater.
Between the many farm activities on offer (from bird watching to bread baking and in-room spa treatments), the incredible meals served 3 times a day and the urge to just sit back and take it all in, there are numerous must-do activities within a short drive from the farm, making it the most incredible place to base yourself on a visit to TZ. When you’re not on a walk to the waterfall, guided by a real-life Maasai warrior, or enjoying the view from the infinity pool, or mountain biking the trails surrounding the farm, you can visit nearby highlights like Lake Manyara and of course, the Ngorongoro Crater.
Gibb’s Farm is conveniently located along the main Tanzanian safari route, which stretches from Arusha to the Tarangire, Lake Manyara and Lake Eyasi National Parks. Transfers are available from Lake Manyara Airport, Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport, but the farm can also be reached by road if you’re travelling on a self-drive basis. My friend Roxanne and I took the bus from Nairobi to Arusha, where we were met by our Gibb’s Farm transfer.
Day-Trips from Gibb’s Farm
A day on Gibb’s Farm should start with a sunrise wake up call (complete with coffee delivered to your cottage door), followed by a walk around the farm and any of the many farm activities on offer . Baking fresh bread with John in the kitchen, helping to milk the cows, gather fresh eggs and harvesting vegetables from the beautiful gardens were some of our favourite experiences during our stay and helped us to really connect with the farm and disconnect from our frantic daily lives. Followed by a leisurely breakfast to prepare for a day-trip to one of the many nearby sights.
A two hour drive from Gibb’s Farm, the Ngorongoro Crater is a bucket-list safari destination offering the ultimate opportunity to see some of Africa’s most beautiful wild animals in their natural habitat. We spent half a day driving around the floor of the crater with our lovely guide Malicky and in a single sweeping view I could spot in a lion lazing by a waterhole, a wildebeest giving birth, a dazzle of zebra grazing on the long grass, a flock of flamingoes dotted around a lake in the distance and a hyena running across the road just ahead of us. I have been on many safaris, but I have never seen anything quite like this.
Lake Manyara & Lake Eyasi
Famous for tree climbing lions who languish in the branches, flocks of flamingoes and a thriving elephant population, Lake Manyara is located less than an hour away from Gibb’s Farm. Home to the indigenous Hadzabe tribe, a visit to Lake Eyasi offers the opportunity to learn more about the traditional Hadzabe way of life and the community’s rich history.
Guests of the farm have the opportunity to join Gibb’s Farm in supporting the local Primary School by building a desk to donate and delivering it themselves. The kids are so so sweet and so happy to visitors. We had the opportunity to join them in class for a little while, and they asked us about where we were from and wanted to take a million pictures with us.
Visiting Gibb’s Farm was one of my favourite travel experiences to date. I still think about the people I met while staying there, and the unbelievable wildlife we saw at the Ngorongoro Crater and the Lakes. It’s the perfect place to experience farm life, while being able to live in the lap of luxury. There’s no place more beautiful to unwind.