You will hear of travellers and backpackers in Guatemala talk of this beautiful paradise called Semuc Champey, surely they wouldn’t all be wrong? We just had to find out for ourselves!
Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.
About Semuc Champey
In the language of Maya, Semuc Champey means “Sacred Water” and consists of 300m of limestone bridges. The tiered formation creates turquoise pools from the Cahabón River and is hidden amongst the lush green jungle in the Alta Verapaz region near Lanquín.
Getting to Semuc Champey
The epic journey to Lanquín started from Rio Dulce with a boat from the jungle river hostel were staying in. We were told we would need to wait longer for the bus, something you need to get used to in Guatemala so we stopped for lunch in the SunDog Café overlooking the jetty. We finally got settled in our small bus ready for the dust and wind in our hair!
Be open to the possibility that the 5 hour bus journey will turn into 7 on the bumpy roads, if you suffer from car sickness this is the right time to neck the meds. I do recommend you book your accommodation before you get to Lanquin, we called a number of hostels with no room for the 5 of us in the group. We got lucky with Utopia Eco Hotel, a double room and 3 hammocks left. The bus will drop you off on the road and a truck is sent down from the hostel for you to pile in the back for the last leg 40 minute of the journey up the steep dirt road surrounded by jungle. It was a bit tricky to see the views, it was raining and it was now dark but we had a few beers and a lots of giggles!
Candles in Kanbah Caves
If you’re feeling adventurous and not scared of the dark, take the tour to the Kan’Bah Caves by Semuc Champey. You’re supplied with a 4 inch candle to help you light the way through the pitch black caves. The guides advise you on the rock formations along the trail to avoid you hurting yourself, the water starts off shallow but you will need to swim in certain parts with one arm in the air to keep your candle alight, not the easiest of moves.
There are some small waterfalls where you need to use a rope to swing yourself round or climb ladders, there is an option to jump off a ledge in there. I was pretty careful not to swallow any of the stagnant water, there was a group back at the hostel that were pretty sick after their time in the caves.
Hiking and Swimming in Semuc Champey
After the caves, we walked across the bridge towards the National Park of Semuc Champey. The 1.5km hike to El Mirador is around 45 minutes up the steep steps surrounded by the mountainous jungle with the birds and monkeys making background noise. The view is breath-taking from the top overlooking the pools down below.
What better way to reward our efforts than getting down to the pools, stripping down to bikinis and jumping in? It sure felt amazing after the hot, humid walk! We made our way through the pools, slipping down on the rock into the next pool below. Couldn’t help but take a moment to lie back and listen to the sounds of the jungle and happy people… absolute bliss.
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