TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2009 – 89/55 – TANZANIA SAFARI -- GIBBS FARM
We are up without the aid of the alarm about 7:15AM, pack up the little that is out and head for breakfast. As agreed, George, our driver/guide picks us up at 9:00AM and we are off on our safari. First, we make a brief stop in Arusha for water and some Coke and then we head for Lake Manyara. That drive takes about 1-1/2 hours over a good road through Massai country. They are clinging to their traditional life style and it is interesting to see the men and young boys in the colorful traditional clothes, herding cattle along the side of the road. We see many women also in the colorful wraps washing clothes in streams and puddles along the road. We go through several small villages where the homes are either handmade brick or of straw and mud with a thatched roof. There are colorful stands and the school children on on the way home for the Easter holidays. As we get closer to Lake Manyara, the landscape gets greener and changes with a looming view of the Rift Valley. By 11:00AM, we are checking into the park. George plans for a short visit of about two hours, as we need to be at Gibbs Farm, where we will spend the night, by 2:30PM for lunch.
The drive through the Park is productive and despite the eight or so safari jeeps also checking in at the same time as us, we are not bothered by them and have most sightings to ourselves. They have had rain so everything is green and there is plenty of water so the animals are hiding. We do see some giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, a family of warthogs and many hippos at the hippo pond. For the first time, we see an huge interesting bird in a tux, some hippos grazing not far from the pond and the African Sausage tree…a food favored by monkeys and elephants. It has high alcohol content and George tells us if an animal eats too much of the sausage shaped fruit, it can become drunk…Hmmm, a drunken elephant boggles the mind!
We have the most fun watching the antics of several troops of two types of monkeys and several troops of baboons. The groups all have babies and they are so cute! Unfortunately, we must press on to Gibbs, and as we get near the gate, we see one very shy elephant working on rearranging the landscape! The view of the park as we begin our climb to Gibss Farm is really something. It takes almost an hour to get to Gibbs Farm over an incredibly rough red dirt road. The road winds its way up the Ngorongoro Crater slope, covered with coffee trees, through a small village. The children all run out to wave and the glimpse of everyday life is amazing. Gibbs is an old coffee plantation originally established in the 1920’s by the Germans. It has gone through several owners due to wars and political situations and is currently owned by Thompson’s Safari Group.
Today the main house and cottages are set in a garden oasissurrounded by 10 acres of vegetable garden and some acres of coffee trees. They grow all the food served in the restaurant so everything is very fresh. Dick enjoyed the food very much, but I am a much more picky eater so some of the offerings were not to my taste. Nevertheless, this has been true of most of the Asian and African food. It is either too peppery or has a funny sweet cast to it. However, the desserts are very good.
After a lunch on the patio overlooking the coffee groves, we visit with George and plan the next day. We then go back to the room, which is very nice with an old-fashioned comfortable feel to it. Dick sits out on the pouch for a while and then enjoys the outdoor shower. Carolyn takes a nap.
About 5:30PM, we go back to the main house and arrange for a tour of the vegetable garden. This is quite an operation and it is interesting to learn about the ins and outs of coffee growing and about the different vegetables…some we know, but many are new to us. Back at the main house, we sit on the patio and have a drink and snacks while we watch a thunderstorm build over the hills. After the sun goes down, we watch the bush babies play on the roof and nibble at a snack of bananas that the staff leaves on the porch for them.We go to dinner about 7:30PM, thinking a couple with three children, two of whom are very crabby twins about 15-18months old, are leaving. It turns out, they are just letting the kids run wild. There is also another group there with four or five young children who are also noisy. As we finish our salad, the noise level is so high we decide to leave and try again later. Three of the staff follow us out, very concerned that we have left the table. Dick explains our problem and they most graciously set up a table outside for us. This is much better, anyway, as the storm is coming our way and there is a great lightening display in progress.
We get back to the room, with the makings for hot tea, just as the rain hits. It is going to be a great sleeping night tonight!