If you’re planning to visit Central America, then I am pleased to give you a hidden gem. Although this special spot will not be hiding for long, Semuc Champey is truly a unique place to visit. Hidden in a lush mountainous jungle in Guatemala near the town of Lanquin, Semuc Champey is a 300 m long limestone formation with a river running underneath, and picturesque turquoise pools above. While visiting Semuc Champey you can swim it in the pools, jumper off of waterfalls, explore a water cave using candles, tube down these river, and hike to the top of a mountain.
The admission fee is 50Q ($7)
This is definitely a place that you do buy yourself. You do not need a tumor guide to take you here. The locals are all very warm and welcoming, although be prepared to be hounded to buy a beer or some sandals or chocolate. However, you can book a tour but it will run me you anywhere from $40.00 to over $100 you include accommodation. There are a couple of hostels in the nearby vicinity, and also allow men kilometres away in the town of Lanquin. Personally, I stayed in Lanquin and had a wonderful time in a beautiful hostile right next to the river.
Things to do at Semuc Champey
Spend a day relaxing not like the locals and swimming from pristine pool to pristine pool. The water is not cold and is very comfortable for spending a day relaxing, swimming, and exploring the area in your swimsuit. You will see wildlife in and around the pools and can enjoy a sliding from pool to pool on water worn limestone surfaces that act as slides.
Climb to the top of El Mirador (the viewpoint) to get the picture perfect view of this natural wonder. The hike takes only about 45 minutes and you well most likely see monkeys and birds on the hike up. The hike to the top is a must do in my opinion, but be forewarned it is nearly a vertical all the way to the top.
After hiking up to the viewpoint and relaxing in the pools, grab a tube from one of the locals and hit the river. It is a relaxing float and you will be joined by the local boys trying to sell you beers. You can jump off the bridge in front of the entrance to Semuc which is exhilarating. I highly recommend tubing this relaxing its section of the river is especially if you are in a group. You can rent a tube for 50Q.
Finally, probably the most exhilarating and unique part of Semuc is the K’an Ba Cave. You go in the cave without headlamp helmet or sandals. This hour-long tour is unique in that you are given only a candle to light your way. You will see stalactites and stalagmites, swim with your candle held above your head, squeeze between small spaces, and even jump off of a 10-foot waterfall into the black abyss below. This unique experience is a must do, and even children can do it. I went in with a family who had two young girls, they were loving it!
Best time of year to visit
The best time of the year to visit Semuc Champey would be during the high season from December to April. During this time of year, it doesn’t rain too often and the river is much more clear and beautiful. Although during this time of year Semuc Champey is crowded with visitors from all over the world, the ability to see the true turquoise blue color of this natural wonder makes up for it.
That’s it for today! If you missed my first post, you can head on over here to check out my Sintra travel guide and a cool video as well.
Until next time!