Condé Nast recently crowned Gibb’s Farm the #1 hotel in East Africa, and Travel + Leisure has twice named it the #1 Safari Lodge in Africa. Not bad for a rustic-chic paradise on the slopes of Ngorongoro Crater, lovingly owned by Thomson founders Rick Thomson and Judi Wineland.
Are we thrilled? Absolutely. Surprised?
Not even a little.
If safari is the adventure of a lifetime, then Gibb’s Farm is the oasis; it’s here that Thomson guests can trade their Land Rover for a lounge chair overlooking picturesque African valleys. It’s here they can stroll through lush fields and experience true farm-to-fork dining. It’s here they can relax in luxury on a property boasting a century of history, heart and soul.
We invite you to discover the magic of Gibb’s Farm through the eyes of its manager and soulkeeper, Sally Cooper, as she describes the perfect day for first-time guests. Sally and her husband/co-manager Nick came to Gibb’s in 2019 with over 30 years of experience managing 5-star properties and private villas in Belize, the Cook Islands, Fiji and New Zealand.
With a strong foundation in wellness, food and experiential properties, she has built upon the Gibb’s Farm legacy as a sanctuary for the senses and a nourishing haven.
Here’s her recommendation for a perfect day.
The perfect day at Gibb’s starts with a cup of coffee on your veranda as the sun rises, and sipping that coffee as you listen to the sounds of the farm, the singing farmhands, the birdsong. The farm is so clean and well-kept. Watching it wake up is just serene and really lovely; you might spot goats hoofing it up and down the goat tower, or chickens poking their heads from their coops.
Next, some early morning exercise; there’s a lot to choose from. I prefer yoga on the yoga platform. It’s a nice way to decompress the spine after being in a safari vehicle, to stretch the legs and start the day with a moment of zen. We also have running guides for those who want to run or jog, mountain bikes for a guided ride, a 25m lap pool for swimmers, and a gym.
A walk through the farm is also a very soothing way to start your day. You can learn how to hand milk a cow, collect chicken eggs, release the hens for their day of foraging and feed the pigs. A variety of organic fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown year-round. They’re harvested daily and whisked off to the kitchen, where they’ll make their way into your lunch.
Afterward, I recommend a long, slow breakfast with farm-fresh eggs whilst the coffee roasts, so you can sip a cup as you smell it roasting.
Next, I would do one of the walks. I don’t think it matters which walk you do, whether you choose the walk through the town of Tloma, the forest walk to the elephant caves and waterfalls, or the walk to the bee hotels. I enjoy all of them. And of course, experiencing the oxygen-enriched environment amongst all those trees has got to be good for the brain cells.
The personal bond you form having a naturalist guide leading these walks is really lovely. You can ask them any question, and they are so hospitable whilst they offer a look at the property through their eyes.
When you return, it’s really nice to have a leisurely lunch at the property, then take your Kindle and a cocktail to the pool and lounge the afternoon away.
After a late afternoon spa service, I recommend preparing for the evening by sipping complementary sundowners at the poolside terrace. I prefer to watch the fiery African sun dip below the coffee fields and spill spectacular golden rays over the valley.
The stillness of this tranquil scene breaks beautifully as the sound of a harmonious chorus rises in song. It’s the Tloma Choir, adorned in colorful kanga cloth; they’ll sing for half an hour or so in what is essentially a private concert deeply rooted in traditional Iraqw music. The sound of their voices is so lovely, and the musicians are wonderfully talented. It’s evident from their big smiles how excited they are to share their culture with you.
If the choir isn’t performing that night, you may instead nod your head to the tunes of Baba Dingi, a traditional Iraqw musician who entertains with song and dance. Or you may sit on the edge of your seat whilst a naturalist storyteller weaves tales of Maasai folklore, Iraqw legend or the history of Gibb’s Farm.
With a drink in your hand, incredible entertainment in front of you and a backdrop of terraced flower gardens and ancient groves, you may find yourself transported to another time and place altogether.
Rounding out the perfect day is a delicious dinner. Remember the farmlands you toured in the morning? The ingredients for your homemade ravioli with ricotta were harvested there; so too were the components for your slow-cooked lamb shoulder and rhubarb crumble pie. Farm-to-fork is one of our core philosophies at Gibb’s. It’s a philosophy founded on free-range eggs, fresh veggies and organic meats. You can really taste the difference.
After a sumptuous dinner, I recommend returning to your lodge and reading by the fireplace until sleep calls to you. If you’re like me, you’ll lie down in anticipation of the birdsong that will wake you tomorrow morning, when the cycle begins again.
At Gibb’s Farm, we invite you to relish the extraordinary in the ordinary: to feel the tranquility found within the caress of a cool African breeze, the rich scent of the earth and the feeling of peace that lingers long in the heart.