Semuc Champey was the top of my list of places to go in Guatemala. Although a bit remote, it’s an essential stop on the backpacker trail. Tourism in this part of the country has grown tremendously in the past 5 years. I can totally see why!
My base was Lanquin, a tiny town with two streets and a handful of shops. The town sits on a river of clear water. A day tour to Semuc Champey was conveniently organised by the hostel.
To start with, we jumped into the back of a ute, about 12 of us. The road there was bumpy, windy and steep in parts. This 45min ride was very fun!
Upon arrival, we walked a short distance along the river to a little office where we stored our bags. On the way there, a group of kids tried to sell us beer, Coca Cola and chocolate. Their little sales schpeil: “Hey, hello. Would you like to buy a chocolate? Maybe later. My name is Ronaldo, you buy from me only.” We all promised that we’d buy something later on.
We had some time to play on a riverside swing, where people jumped into the water if they wanted.
Next we went into the Ka Ba’an caves. This was awesome! We were given candles which provided a cool ambience underground. The water inside came up to our waists, sometimes deeper, and was pretty cold. A series of ropes was set up along the rocks to assist with moving along. We were in the caves for 90 mins all up. There were sections we had to swim across (I lost and retrieved my thongs/flip flops twice, trying to propel forward), waterfalls to walk through, slides and walls to jump off (not me, too chicken!). My favourite part was towards the end. We sat at the top of a hole with the guide. I couldn’t see anything down the hole except gushing water. The guide told us where to put our hands and said ‘go down slowly, then slide!’. So I did that, first holding onto a rock on the side, then lowering down, then letting myself go into the water. It pulled me under for a bit, then I came out in a pool with the others in my group in front. So much fun!
For the next part we walked along the river to some waterfalls. A couple of people jumped off, while others lay on the rocks or swam. The scenery was simply gorgeous! We were blessed with blue skies which looked incredible against the green hills and clear water.
We then grabbed some inflatable tubes and cruised down the river. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong, but I was SO slow. The group had to wait a bit for me to catch up. They waited on a beach where some gorgeous kids were playing around. I was struggling to get to the beach (I kept floating downstream) so the kids jumped in some tubes and paddled out to grab me! They were very cute. Then they tried to sell me chocolate!
We continued floating down until another beach. Here we got out, walked to the bridge and watched a few people jump in. We retrieved our bags, and sat in a little comedor for lunch. The kids from before came back and hassled us, putting on their best innocent faces. We all bought more chocolate than we needed!
After lunch we went to the actual Semuc Champey National Park. We hiked up at the mirador (viewpoint) which was a steep up for about 20 mins, through gorgeous forest. The lookout point was truly spectacular!
After plenty of photos, we walked down to the pools themselves. A light rain started but nothing too disturbing. This part was a a stunning walk. Definitely something Dante would love, which made me miss him more.
Once we were down at the pools, we had some time to swim. The water was pleasant and the scenery amazing! This was a wonderful way to end a super fun day.
I recommend anyone heading go Guatemala to include Semuc Champey. It was a massive highlight for me.
Now I’m off to Tikal which is where I’ll end my time in Guatemala.