One of the rarest things for my family to do is to return to a place that we’ve visited once before. With the world being so large and with so much to see, the place has to be extra, extra special. That is exactly the way we feel about Finca Ixobel!
I have personally been to this eco lodge, family owned farm three times. This is something that is completely unheard of for me. I am not one to return to places. The first time I came here was thirteen years ago. I was a backpacker heading out on my journey. I stayed in the dorm rooms, which was full of other backpackers exploring Guatemala just like me.
The next time I came back, four years ago, was with my husband and oldest boy (my baby just started brewing in my belly – so technically he didn’t really experience the place). The shift was already happening. We stayed in one of the tree houses (with a private bathroom) cause that is what my son wanted. The place had some couples, few backpackers and local families were arriving with their kids. It definitely didn’t have the party scene like it did when I was here thirteen years ago. And this was a great thing for us.
And for our third time, we returned with both boys (our complete family) to have them experience this super cool place. But truthfully, this is my oldest son’s favorite place and we came here to celebrate his tenth birthday.
This time around, it was a full-on family friendly place. We stayed in the Venus Suite, which is the largest cabin available and definitely made for families.
We had three beds, a living area, private bathroom with hot water and a porch that opened up to the biggest front yard.
And the best part, in the yard was a huge playground. Which we spent a lot of time watching the kids enjoy.
Plus the design of the suite was really well done. The doors were carved and the murals were spectacular.
Guide to Staying at Finca Ixobel
When you come to stay at the finca it is much more than just a place to sleep, it is more like a destination in itself.
The farm is still run on the honor system. When you arrive you check in and a sheet of paper is given to you where you will add all the things you do and buy. For instance, whenever you get something from the kitchen you put in on the tab.
Whenever you sign up for any of the tours, you add it on the sheet.
With picky eaters, my kids’ favorite meal was breakfast, and here they served it all day long.
We even got on the band wagon and joined in for breakfast fun as a dinner meal. Actually my husband lived on the Chapin Desayuno the full three days we were there.
In the evenings was pure family fun. There were no options for watching TV anywhere, so it was all about quality time together. The back room has a ping pong table and we spent hours having a blast there.
Tours and Activities at Finca Ixobel
The main reason we came here was for the Laguna.
Basically, what this was was a natural pond for swimming.
This is where all the best times were had. From jumping in the pond.
To taking a water slide. We spent hours and hours here.
But there is a lot more to do at Finca Ixobel. Peten is known for the cave systems and amazing hiking. However, with small kids there are few options. The best choice for our family was the horseback riding tour.
Gratefully, we had a private tour. Normally the tour was two hours, but with a three year old, he was only able to handle one and with no other people on the tour it was no problem.
If you need a private tour for your small kids, they can definitely arrange it. And also my oldest rides horses well, so they were able to give him a stronger horse. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to enjoy it since all the other horses followed along and we weren’t as skilled as him.
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. This plant has medicinal uses by the locals.
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.
They started a farm but things were tough. There was no 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.
Everyone just wanted to get to Flores and Tikal. Plus the roads were bad, so 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 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 see if there was a place to stay and food to eat.
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
Family Friendly Guide to Staying at Finca Ixobel – Eco Lodge