Friday, April 25, 2014

Finca Ixobel

Camping in this part of the world is not a common thing. Far from it in fact. Apparently Guatemalans don't have the same camping culture we have in Europe, Australia or the US/Canada. As a result campgrounds can be hard to find and good campgrounds are rare. Places that are really good… are so rare they deserve a special mention so that others can enjoy them as well.

Finca Ixobel is such a place. Finca is the Spanish word for Farm, so it is a farm stay. It was nothing more than a GPS coordinate we received from someone a couple of weeks ago, a GPS coordinate that wasn't even accurate. Finca Ixobel didn't look like a campground when we arrived, more like a restaurant. We actually wondered if this had been one of the many 'rogue' coordinates again, where people had 'camped' in a parking lot and then describe it as a campground. 

We've learned that for some reason the coordinates given on the web by German travellers are especially known for that. They seem to park their fully self contained rig anywhere and if they haven't been send away in the morning, they mark it in their GPS as a campground… Nice, when you think there is a campground and you arrive on a motorcycle with a tent… it's hard to get tentpegs in asphalt. So far we have arrived at locked quarries (which presumably someone forgot to lock the night they were there), parking areas next to the highway without toilets or anywhere to pitch a tent, goat tracks that were clearly marked private property etc etc. We found that at least 90% of the GPS coordinates floating around on the web are not campgrounds and not suitable for tent campers. For Belize for instance we found over 70 'campgrounds', only 13 of them are actual camping options, 4 of them are terrible and 2 of them are on an island, leaving a grand total of 7 out of 70 on mainland Belize. The rest were various parking lots and closed down properties. 

Finca Ixobel is an exception! This is a proper campground by any standard. There are flush toilets, hot showers (well… hot-ish but hey it's never cold here anyway) and plenty of space on a grassy tree lined area to pitch your tent. There is a covered shelter in the camping area too in palapa style, with tables and chairs. Limited power is available from the toilet building (please don't come with a 30 or 50 Amp airconditioner… it will not work). At the restaurant and common areas are power points and free Wifi.

The only noise you may encounter are the Secadas. They make a bit of noise, not too bad, but when there are hundreds of them… 
For even more luxury there are various cabins for rent and… a good family style restaurant that caters for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great campground, good atmosphere, security on site, lots of travellers and good food… what more can you ask for? Well, most of the vegetables come from their own organic veggie garden, while the local markets supply the rest. Their own bakery has fresh bread, muffins and sweet breads in the morning. There is a dinner buffet every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Or you can just order what you like from the menu, write it down on the sheet and they will bring it to you. Drinks are available from the fridge, just write down what you took and pay before you leave. The prices are good too!

While we were there, there was a good mix of overlanders, locals and back packing travellers from all walks of life. We exchanged information with people going the opposite direction, like an Austrian couple travelling in this Landcruiser with this cleverly home-made camper. If you are a little travel weary and like to stay for a while, this would be a good place to do it. Caving and horseback riding are just two of the many activities that can also be done. The lady who owns Finca Ixobel is a lovely person and a wealth of knowledge. She has created a relaxed atmosphere, yet she's had quite a lot of hardship in her life. It's one of those places where you feel at home as it's all so easy. We really enjoyed our stay here and thought this place deserves a special mention on our blog as a Thank you!