Beautiful Semuc Champey in Guatemala
Semuc Champey – Guatemala
Semuc Champey is one of those places that is very difficult to get to but that if you are in Guatemala you can’t miss.
After walking 10 minutes from our hostel and paying 50Q for the entrance fee, we walked up to El Mirador above the river. This is a very steep and muddy path. You will need a good pair of trainers so you won’t have any problems. The beautiful blue pools are created by a natural limestone bridge over the Cahabón River. The river runs underneath the rock formation and at the top is nature’s majestic gift to us: crystal blue pools. You can easily spend a whole day relaxing, swimming, climbing and jumping from one pool to the other. It is breathtaking here.
Being in this place made me feel like being in a little paradise, to see the colour of the water surrounded by so much green and to think that underneath that water was hidden a river is something incredible. I don’t think I have ever been to a more beautiful place than Semuc Champey in Guatemala.
From the entrance of Semuc Champey, you can walk another 10 minutes to the KanBa Caves, another unforgettable experience for those who are prepared to swim, climb and jump in this dark cave accompanied only by lit candles. We arrived at 4:30 pm and they almost didn’t let us in as the tours close at that time. We were lucky as we were in a group of 6 people, if there had only been 2 or 3 of us they would not have given us the tour. It cost 60 Q each ($8) for the entrance fee and the guide (you can go in without one but we don’t recommend it). You must wear a swimming costume and tennis shoes.
- Transport to Semuc Champey:
– The companies will tell you that the trip is 8 hours from Flores to Semuc, but we left at 8 am on the shuttle and didn’t arrive until 7 pm at our hotel. Remember to negotiate the price with the companies and don’t pay more than 80Q (US$10.5). The trip consists of a ferry ride across a river, several stops for lunch and toilets, a stop in Coban for lunch and then a 2 hour bumpy, bumpy road to Lanquin. Before you can get off the bus you will be harassed by several hotel representatives from the village, who are in charge of taking guests to their hotels in private transport.
– In Semuc Champey there are 2 places to stay. The first would be Lanquin, a small village with many hostels and a couple of shops. If you stay here you will need to travel another 40 minutes by jeep to get to Semuc Champey the next day (25Q one way or $3.25US).
– Another option would be to take the free shuttle offered by the hostel representatives to one of the hostels a short distance from Semuc. If you choose this option you will ride in the back of a Jeep (the only type of vehicle they use on this road) with other travellers and it will take about 40 minutes to your destination. As we said, this trip is free as all the hostels are competing for your business.
At the time of writing this post, there were only 4 hostels available near Semuc Champey: Utopia (although this one is still far enough to walk to the river), Las Marias, El Portal (right next to the entrance), and Greengo’s (where we stayed, but don’t stay there). All are similar in price, we paid 50Q each ($6.5US) for a bed in a dorm. The key to the hostels is that they don’t let you bring in any food or drinks as they have their restaurant and bar.
Greengo’s is a nice hostel with a decent restaurant, volleyball court, hot water and is located 10 minutes away from Semuc Champey. Despite all these amenities we recommend you to stay elsewhere. The owner of the place was quite overbearing and his attitude only showed the pesos sign on his face, every tip we met him he referred us to one of the tours he did and argued that if we didn’t do it with them it would be too dangerous. This is not a backpacker’s hostel, it is more of an all-inclusive option.
– Our hostel made us leave all our food at the reception when we checked in and only returned it the next day when we were on our way to Semuc Champey. Among the cheap options at our hostel was a hamburger for 45Q ($6US) a very exaggerated price considering we were in Guatemala. Near the entrance to Semuc Champey, a family is selling hot plates for a very good price and with LOTS of food. As we arrived at some picnic tables near the entrance several children approached us shouting in English “Chocolate 2 for 5! 2 for 5!”. It turned out that many of the local children are learning English and Hebrew (the hotel where we stayed was owned by an Israeli) from tourists passing through the area. We stayed talking to them after we finished our sandwiches. They learned Spanish in school but the vast majority of people in Guatemala speak other native languages in their homes, in this case, Maya Q’eqchi. They were generous and patient enough to teach us a few phrases.
Later when we came back very hungry after our excursion in the caves, we met the parents of some of the children we had met earlier: Marcos and Luisa. Read more about this lovely experience of talking to these lovely people. (Talking to locals – Semuc Champey, Guatemala).
- Transport Semuc Champey to Antigua:
– If possible book directly from Lanquin. With them you can negotiate the price of the shuttle; don’t pay more than 100Q ($13). The bus stops in Cobán, unloads people in Guatemala City and finally ends in Antigua at the central square. In total it takes 8 hours.