Semuc Champey is a must if you’re visiting Guatemala, but I’m not going to lie to you, getting there is a bitch! Especially when cooped up in a small mini bus designed for 17 people but they cram another few seats in the isle for good measure, you know, just to make sure you are really comfortable!
The roads are rough in Guatemala, and Semuc Champey is hidden away in the rainforest, so most people decide to stay in the neighbouring town Lanquin which is about 40 minutes from Semuc Champey.
So, what can you do when visiting Semuc Champey?
1. Semuc Champey is a group of natural limestone pools which are filled with turquoise water from the Rio Cahabon. To get there from Lanquin, you can either take an organised tour which includes transport, a guide, access to the pools and also the caves. (I will touch on the caves soon). This will cost you anything from 150Q-300Q so shop around for a good deal! If you wanted to just do the pools, you can head into the town of Lanquin and take a taxi for only 10Q each way! There was a group of us so we managed to get a great deal and the driver waited there to take us back again – The usual fee is around 25Q. When I say taxi, it’s actually a pick-up truck where you stand in the back and have to hold on for dear life, but it gets you there! To gain access to the pools, this will cost you 50Q per person but you can stay there for the entire day if you wish.
2. There is a spectacular view point which overlooks the pools. To reach this, you will need to take the path named El Mirador which takes you up a trail and takes around 30 minutes to climb. The view is definitely worth the hike but I would recommend trainers or walking shoes for this.
3. Go swimming in the gorgeous turquoise pools! There are lockers to keep your belongings safe whilst you head off exploring the emerald waters but you will need to take your own padlock with you. Start at the top and work your way down jumping and sliding into the different tiers.
4. Stay at the The Zephyr Lodge! TZL is a popular place to stay in Lanquin and it’s easy to see why, they have the best infinity pool and the views are out of this world! I mean, who doesn’t want to wake up to this every morning?
TZL will set you back 210Q a night for a double bed in a dorm and 235Q in a semi private. The good news is, they give you the 4th night for free and as we booked for 3 nights, it would have been crazy to turn down the free night! One thing to point out is you can’t take your own food and drink and they are not so keen about you heading out of the hostel either. There is a path that takes you in to the town in about 5 minutes, its located just by the main toilets! Hopefully someone will direct you in the right direction if you don’t spot it at first. The food at Zephyr is good, just a little on the pricey side.
5. Go tubing down the River Cahabon! You can do this as a tour with your hostel, or you can do it yourself which will cost around 50Q. Just head into Lanquin and ask one of the guides in the town. If you choose the tour of Semuc Champey and the caves, your tour usually includes a shorter tubing trail at Semuc Champey.
6. Eat at Comedor Shalom which is located in the town of Lanquin. They don’t have a menu but serve a good selection of food including chicken dishes, burritos and incredible nachos!! Most meals cost either 20 or 30Q and they don’t serve alcohol but are more than happy for you to take your own.
7. Kanba Caves is a popular activity and usually comes as a package along with the pools and you can only enter the caves with a guide. The guide will hand you a candle which you carry above your head the entire time you are in the caves whilst you are climbing, jumping and swimming. It’s definitely not the safest activity but then I guess that’s the fun part about travelling!
Semuc Champey was definitely a highlight of my trip and was definitely worth the gruelling journey from Flores. The mini bus cost 100Q from Flores and also cost 100Q from Lanquin to Antigua which was my next port of call.
Have you ever heard of Semuc Champey? Do you have plans to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
Keep on wandering