The most asked question when you travel to Guatemala is: “Should we go to Semuc Champey? Is it worth the whole journey?” In this blog I will describe and give you inspirations, why you should go to this original nature phenomenon that is less visited than the other Guatemala highlights.
It is true that the journey to get to Lanquín is long and winding, no matter from which way you come. I came from Antigua via a shuttle bus, which I booked for 175Q and that lasted ±10 hours! The last part of the road is unpaved through the mountains and will take a while, but to see the sunset through the mountains made it definitely bearable. The dirty road takes you back to the main road too on your onward journey. After Lanquín I went to Flores; that journey is a bit shorter ±8,5 hours and I booked it at my El Retiro Lodge for 140Q. I noticed that all the transport is well organized and very easy to travel for tourist.
El Retiro Lodge Lanquín
The small mountain town Lanquín is 15 km away from the highlight of the area: Semuc Champey. I stayed at El Retiro Lodge in Lanquín; I highly recommend you to stay here. The accommodation is at the edge of Lanquín and has a perfect location; very relaxed with a nice garden and perfect view at the river from a mountain hill.
The hostel offers bunk beds, simple double room and cabañas; the restaurant offers daily breakfasts (Tipico 30Q) and delicious healthy buffet style dinners (80Q). The menu changes every day and they have a vegetarian option too. All is served in a common area with a pool table, happy hours with cocktails and good wifi. The travel desk offers tours in the area and you can walk to the center of Lanquín: Loved this place!!
Daytrip to Semuc Champey
At 9:00AM my truck left from El Retiro for 25Q to the Semuc Champey Parc. Be prepared, you have to stand in the back of the truck with other tourist for about 45min. Try to stand at the edge of the truck to have the best view; the truck has 3 spots upfront for older people. The view of this trip is amazing and is a real adventure. I kept on smiling all the way, knowing that I will have some bruises on my legs and arms tomorrow…!!
When the truck arrived at the entrance of the park (fee 50Q), I directly walked straight up to the mirador for the view over the 300 meter limestone bridge. The ±35 minute hike is tough and warm, but it’s all worth it and knowing that you can jump into the cooling colorful pools afterwards. See it as a big reward; so don’t do the walk the other way around!!
Walking downhill you reach the beginning of the series of the stepped pools with flowing water with small waterfalls in between the steps. At these natural created pools you can chill, swim, dive, enjoy the scenery and tan in the sun. Be careful the steps and limestone are very slippery; stay low when crossing the waterfalls and check if it is deep enough to dive into the next pool! There are two places where you can change your clothes and boxes to store your bags and valuables; the second place is less crowded.
Tip: Bring some snacks and water with you if you go longer to the pools; only at the entrance/exit you can get some food and chocolate from the kids.
Tip: I went to the other side of the pool and chilled at the hedge, small fish came to see cleaning my feet! Normally you pay for every 15 minutes for this service; this was for free in the wild nature!
I was glad I did not book a full day tour including the caves. I loved to do the trip by myself, doing it like this I had more time to spent at the pools and enjoy the scenery and it was cheaper too (100Q). And I was going to the ATM cave in Belize anyway, no need to go here.
I agreed with my truck driver that I could go back on the 15.30PM truck, it’s only a small walk ±15 min from the pools to the exit. People are waiting near the almost famous yellow bridge to get down the river all the way to Lanquín in tubes with a beer in their hand. You can book this tour at the hostels too.
Hope you have a good impression of Semuc Champey, I found it worth the trip. The next day I chilled at El Retiro and walked to town to visit the market; three nights and two days is perfect, not in the bus too soon and enjoy the tranquilo scenery here.