Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

Recently Ryan and I took a 4-day trip to Arusha, Tanzania. For those of you who don't know where this is, it is a 3 hour drive from the Serengeti, in the Kilimanjaro region. The sights are glorious! The town of Karatu is home to the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ryan and I took a day trip down into the crater, which is literally like descending into Jurassic Park - animals have been there for over 3 million years!

It's an old volcano,  610 metres deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometres. There is a saltwater lake, home to hundreds of pink flamingoes. Along with that, is almost every animal anyone would wish to see while on "safari". I must admit, even before descending in our 4x4 we enjoyed our first sights of tourists dressed up in the most ridiculous safari costumes. You literally sit in a car the whole day, so no Africa get-up is really needed, as you can't exit for fear of losing your life (but yes, there are a few stupid tourists who were in fact, eaten by lions, or charged by wildebeest!)

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Anyway, I digress........we enjoyed a day watching birds, wildebeest, rhinos, hippos, elephants and zebra. Lions also hunted and killed a water buffalo in front of us, and it was like a scene from the Lion King - the male panting about 5 metres away, while the others ripped open the buffalo. The hyenas sat in the distance, waiting, and the little jackals kept running in and grabbing bits of flesh when the lions weren't looking. And I wonder why I don't like to eat meat! Overall, the crater is a once in a lifetime place to visit, as it's so open, you can see EVERYTHING. I would highly recommend it.

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Gibbs Farm, Arusha

Ryan and I stayed at possibly one of the most beautiful lodges we've ever been to - Gibbs Farm. The farm is self-sustaining, and all food is grown or reared there. The food is incredible, and the atmosphere heavenly - it really is a sanctuary of the senses.

RECIPE: See my Gibbs farm-inspired coffee cake recipe here.

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Imagine waking in sunshine to hilly views of coffee plantations. You can take leisurely strolls with a guide over to see some salt caves, where the elephants come to lick the salt. You can wander through the farms, climb to their treehouse, and get back in time for an incredible lunch. Then you can relax in your soaker tub or outdoor shower (made of stone), and go back for high tea. There is even an art gallery, gift shop, and little pond to bird watch.

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Friends - you really need to visit this place. I was in foodie heaven, and as such, took many inspirational photos of the farm. The coffee plants have also inspired me for today's recipe - Gibbs Farm Coffee Cake. We were able to watch the coffee harvesting and roasting process, and brought back some delicious beans.

Gibbs Farm

Coffee Facts

Did you know that coffee is Tanzania's biggest export crop? In fact, Tanzania produces 30-40,000 metric tons each year - that's 40 million kilograms, enough for over 4 billion cups of coffee!

Coffee is rich in antioxidants, which protect your cells from oxidation (free radicals). There are studies (good strength of evidence) which suggest that antioxidants can protect your body from heart disease, cancer and premature ageing. And, you can get these from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee!

For those who drink caffeinated drinks, including tea and coffee, there are obviously many studies which warn of harmful effects when consuming too much per day. However, the maximum recommended amount is 300 mg of caffeine a day, which is about 3-4 cups of coffee.

I love tea and coffee - there is nothing better than the warmth a mug brings, and the smell that wakes me up. I also find it helps me when I'm fighting a migraine - which unfortunately is an often-monthly occurrence. If you want to watch your weight, I would try to eliminate dairy and sugar from your brew. If you really want a creamy texture, I'd suggest trying a nut milk, such as steamed almond milk. But avoid sweeteners and sugars, if you can. I often add a cinnamon stick to my brew for a nice taste, or sometimes a wee bit of honey. But mostly, I try to drink coffee (or espresso) for it's natural taste.