We stayed in the small town of Lanquin. From there it was about 10 kilometers over a mountain to Semuc Champey. In Lanquin you will see lots of pick-ups or small busses with some kind of cage in the back. It looks a little bit like a cow transporter! But these vehicels are actually for transporting tourists and locals to Semuc Champey. With mixed feelings I was standing (it’s definitely better to stand in the back on the very bumpy road) in the back of one of these trucks. It was a rough ride and an adventure itself. You need to have some trust in the local driver. They know the road inside out and what seems to be sketchy for you is daily business for them!
Semuc Champey is a national park just south of the small town of Lanquin. With chrystal green-blue swimming pools made by nature this spot in the Guatemalan jungle is a “must-see” for every traveler in the region.
Semuc Champey means “where the water hides” and that is exactly what happens here. The raging water of the river Cahabón are flowing into an underground cave leaving only enough water to fill some of the most beautiful natural limestone pools. Does that sound like a place you should visit? Follow me for a relaxing swim and get to know all the information you need for an adventurous day-trip!
Semuc Champey – a jewel in the jungle of Guatemala
There are a lot of places to choose from. Directly in front of the entrance of Semuc Champey or in and around the small town of Lanquin you can find cheap hostels or even fancy hotels. We stayed at hostel Vista Verde close to Lanquin which was a very nice place operated by locals.
When you choose your accommodation please keep in mind that some places are far away from town and you are basically stuck with their menu. That wasn’t a problem for us as the menu of our hostel was great and the prices reasonable. Nevertheless we spend a lot of money while staying there. It was just about too convenient to go to the bar! 😉
The best time to go seems to be (according to certain guides) the main season from December to April because the water is supposed to be clearer with less rain. We went to Semuc Champey in February and it was just about perfect. Even the amount of people visiting was not as bad as expected. We met an older couple from Germany again. We had met them before at Finca Ixobel. Sometimes the world is a small place!
- hiking shoes/sandals: Definitely bring good hiking shoes or sandals as the jungle hike to El Mirador can be very slippery.
- swimming clothes
- sunscreen & sunglasses
- insect repellant (we had no problems at all but maybe it’s better to be on the safe side. Just in case…)
- water&snacks: Only if you want to avoid the touristy food places or – like us – if you have become a big fan of the hostel’s menues! 🙂
And now that you’ve packed everything in a handy little daypack, let’s go and explore Semuc Champey!
It’s 50 Quetzales (around 5 Euros) per person and you can enter the national reserve of Semuc Champey. The trail from the entrance will lead you straight to the ascent towards El Mirador, a viewpoint up the mountain from where you’ll have a scenic overview of the limestone pools. The trail leads through jungle and can be slippery so make sure you wear appropriate shoes! El Mirador will certainly be crowded with tourists all trying to get a good shot. Just queue in and wait until it’s your time to enjoy the amazing view!
After the climb up to El Mirador the hiking trail decends down towards the river Cahabón. Even before arriving at the river you can see the water shining blue and green through the greens of the jungle, sparkling in the sunlight. What a sight!
Now it’s definitely time to take a dip into these fantastic looking pools! There are lockers provided where you can store all your belongings while you are relaxing in the water. Unfortunately Semuc Champey, same as some other tourist places, has a bad reputation for theft. When we were there we saw some men walking around with a hack saw and Brad had some bad feelings about that. We placed our stuff right next to the water and tried to keep an eye on it at all times.
Nothing happend and after a relaxing swim we made our way back to the car park to experience once again the bumpy mountain roads of Guatemala…
Back to the overview!
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