The traveler who arrives at Gibb’s Farm steps into an “eco-destination” unlike any other place in Africa. The unique ecology of farm estate includes the flora, fauna, birds and game of North Tanzania, the unique biodiversity of North Tanzania includes the relationships between its natural and human inhabitants.  The unique environment of North Tanzania is not only preserved at Gibb’s Farm, it lives and thrives in an atmosphere that recognises its past and embraces its future.


Indigenous technology and materials were used to create sustainable and affordable staff housing. What is right for this place; surely not prefabricated elements, or mastery of the landscape. Dwellings were built to enhance the popular community in several ways: local materials that were biologically and technically reusable and available.  Employing these materials and the services of nearby and farm craftsman generates local economy and demonstrates community cooperation while minimising cash outlay (like the village barn raising events of previous generations).  The effort involves local people in building the community and keep them connected to the regions’ cultural heritage, which the structures’ aesthetic distinctiveness itself perpetuates. Enlisting indigenous skilled hands to train young people in the use of local materials and techniques encourages intergenerational connection. 

MODEL COMMUNITY VILLAGES: Mikahawani & Namnyak -

Two villages were established to model sustainable building techniques, affordable housing and to provide an example of community self governance and self-responsibility.

Established on opposite sides of the Farm, east and west, as a Living Museum these are both working villages and not ‘cultural bomas’ or tourist attractions. Mikahawani (Swahili for village in the coffee) provides community housing, leaning center, meals and healthcare. It is located in the heart of the working coffee, vegetable and dairy farm.

The African Living Spa’s indigenous medicine staff is supported by the second village called Namnyak (Maasai for luck) and located in a beautiful valley within the Farm’s private forest reserve. 

Namnyak  dwelling design follows the Maasai style and technology. It is a simple example of comfortable housing. The timber was harvested from the Eucalyptus trees planted 15 years ago in the forest estate, cut in a manner to promote regrowth.  In the Mikahawani Village dwelling design is drawn from the Iwraq style dwellings found in our neighboring Tloma village. Unfired bricks and mud foundations have been used, along with thatch roof and efficient lighting and windows and ventilation. Non-irrigated flowers and coffee fields surround the dwellings.  The dwellings are used to provide accommodations for the staff not wishing to walk home in between working schedules. 50 beds have been provided, with no more than 2 sleeping in one room at a time, each with a locker. Long-term accommodations and married housing areas have also been built with separate washing and private spaces for a total capacity of 50 people.  The Mikahawani Village governance was established during the construction phase, complete with an elected Mayor and village council to practice accountability, leadership and community ownership. The spirit of the governance is based on existing Iwraq community leadership principles. The village council is made up of four parts:  village and environment, sports and entertainment, staff dining, staff social services.

Both villages have been established within the context of their natural environment; they are a part of, not separate from these biomes. Mikahawani is Swahili for “village in the coffee”. Minimal earthwork was completed to establish the dozen dwellings on a gently sloping coffee field.  Coffee continues to grow around each building.  The excavated soil was used to make berms to provide privacy and noise abatement. Namyak is lucky enough to be situation along the highland forest allowing for easy collection of a building materials and affords tranquility and privacy.


The farm serves as a model for local people. Gibb’s Farm’s efforts at sustainable, renewable resource use provides an example of what is successful. The farm has shown that there are ecologically sound solutions to meet needs such as growing healthy plants without pesticides or herbicides, providing different sources of fuel for cooking, organic fertilizer for crops, sustainable production of building materials. The livestock kept, the vegetables grown, the flowers and trees in the lodge gardens are constantly being reviewed and new things tried.

The Swahili word for journey is safari. “Safari” has entered the travel lexicon with specific connotations of survivable primitive African travel and dramatic Big Five wild animal hunts. Two centuries ago European aristocracy seized upon this new travel and destination as a form of “grand tour”. The tour very much included the experience of living within the habitat amongst the big game. The survivability aspect became entertainment to rival the hunt and all means of luxury encumbered the expeditions. Presently, the object of the modern safari is to capture the context of the purpose of travel – to observe wild animals deep within their natural habitats rather than simply to hunt them. The Tracker ensures sighting of the Big Five while the Ranger provides interpretation. In short, the Nikon digital camera has replaced the Remington hunting rifle. The traveller is packing a wide angle lens. In addition to the supertelephoto for the Big Five, the wide angle brings into view village life, smaller fauna, and flora. Porter heads are no longer burdened by pianos nor ammunition, but with specimen jars, film, paint and brushes.

Cottages as classroom - The Living-Museum tenant of interpretation and information is manifested in the physical space. Every cottages has a description supported by individual and growing art collection. The spoken words of the guide or naturalist or written collateral alone do not carry this expectation.   In the belief that our surroundings contribute to our state of mind, emphasis is put on the design of spaces that cultivate a sense of tranquility with a sense of place and history.  Guest cottage designs are rooted in the principles that African open space yields a source of peace in a marked departure from the real world.  Textural materials and indigenous artworks embellish the space.  Through fine art commissioned by the Artist-in-residence program, SAANA, individual themes of each cottage are interpreted through art.  Each carry lessons in keeping with a unique subject via a sophisticated and yet simple system of theme: For example: the symbiotic relationship between beings and the environment (Manjani Grass House) or the stages of life and one’s responsibility while  living it (Morani House). 

  1.   Recognize the past, embrace the future - Land in the conservation area is multi-use, it is unique in Tanzania as the only conservation area providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. Land use is controlled to prevent negative effects on the wildlife population. For example, cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels.

    Back in  the 1700‘s the Mbulu and Datooga people occupied northern Tanzania only to be forced out by the Maasai in the 1800’s.  Originally part of the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was partitioned in 1959 to allow continued indigenous people co-habitation with the fauna and flora.  Gibb’s Farm celebrates past and embraces the future based on this unique model of mixed use and co-habitation along our northern boarder with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

⎯   ➂  ⎯
The traveler who arrives at Gibb’s Farm 
steps into an “eco-destination” 
unlike any other place in Africa:

the unique ecology of Gibb’s Farm includes the flora, fauna, birds and game of North Tanzania,
the unique biodiversity of North Tanzania includes the relationships between its natural and human inhabitants,
the unique environment of North Tanzania is not only preserved at Gibb’s Farm; it lives and thrives in an atmosphere that recognizes its past and embraces its future.

New Tourism & the Harmony Project, All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2004 - 2012

African Living Spa, and Living Spa ® are registered/trademarked.  

The Ecology of Gibb’s Farm Living-Museum:

➀ A Living Museum
➁ A Cultural Safari
➂ An Ecological DestinationLiving_Museum.htmlA_Living_Museum.htmlA_Cultural_Safari.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0shapeimage_11_link_1shapeimage_11_link_2shapeimage_11_link_3