One thing that my family doesn’t do often is return to a place that we have already visited. It has to be really special for us to repeat.There is so much to be seen and done in the world, returning to the same place twice or thrice (as in this case) there has to be a good reason. But Finca Ixobel has that special something!
I love it so much that I have been here three times, something unheard of for me. The first time was back when I was a backpacker, thirteen years ago. I was making my way through Guatemala and stayed in the dorm rooms with other backpackers.
The second time was four years ago with my oldest son and husband when I was pregnant with my baby. This time we stayed in a tree house with a private bathroom. The place had some couples, few backpackers and local families were arriving with their kids. It definitely didn’t feel like the party place that I visited thirteen years ago. It was transitioning into a family friendly place.
This time it was a full-on family friendly place. We picked the Venus Suite. It is the largest and perfect for families.
The suite has: three beds, a private bathroom, a porch (looking into a huge yard) and is decorated with gorgeous murals.
And the best part, in the yard was a huge playground. I loved being able to spent a lot of time watching the kids enjoy it while sitting on our porch.
Guide to Staying at Finca Ixobel
When you get to the Finca you notice that it is much more than another hotel. It is more like a destination.
This must be one of the last places that are still run on the honor system. When you check in they give you a sheet where you write down everything you consume or the tours you do.
They serve breakfast all day long. This resulted as a blessing for me because it is my boy’s favorite meal. We even had some breakfast fun as a dinner meal. My husband loved it so much that he lived on the Chapin Desayuno for three full days.
There is no TV here so you are able to do some serious family bonding. We headed to the back room where we spend a whole afternoon playing ping pong.
Tours and Activities at Finca Ixobel
The main reason we came here was for the Laguna. It is a natural pond for swimming. This is where my boys had the best times. They jumped in over a hundred times and then went on the water slide a hundred more.
But there is more to do. Peten is known for its cave system and with amazing walking trails. However, we didn’t do those because of the small kids.
We ended up going on a horseback tour. Luckily, we had a private one. We were able to do a shorter version. It normally lasts two hours, but we did just one. My three year old boy gets bored easily.
There is plenty to do here for all ages.
History and Facts About Finca Ixobel
• The name comes from the Mayan Mopan language. Ix (Eesh) means place of… and Obel is a wild plant that grows everywhere, recognized by its heart shaped leaves. The plant has been used by locals because of its medicinal properties or many years.
• Two adventurers from North America, Carole Ann DeVine and Michael V. DeVine, were looking for a place to start their farm in 1971. They bought 400 acres in the Guatemalan jungle.
• Things were tough when the farm started working. There was no decent road, electricity and water had to be carried from natural springs within the property.
• The family grew when they adopted Maria and Conrad DeVine.
• In the early 1970’s, northern Guatemala was the least developed region of Guatemala.
• Travelers just wanted to get to Flores and Tikal and the roads were bad. Most people preferred to fly than taking a 20 hour long chicken bus ride. So tourists in Poptún were rare.
• But the few tourists that preferred a land trip to tikal were always looking for a place to stay.
• Word got out that there was an American couple that owned a farm so people began to stop by to ask for food and a place to stay.
• Carole started accepting people to join them to eat.
• One day they decided to start charging.
• Tourism grew and in 1972 they started a campground that quickly turned into a small hotel.
• Michael DeVine passed away in 1990. His wife, Carole DeVine, and the two children continue to run the business.
• This is one of the most special places for my family, and when you are traveling in the Tikal / Flores region find the time to make it out to this farm.
Information for Finca Ixobel
Phone: (502) 5410-4307
Address: 6km south of Poptún, Peten
Prices: $17 to $65 (as of June 2014)