Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lagoons and Caves of Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Getting around Guatemala is pretty easy, there are the chicken buses which everyone knows about, these take all day however and if you get a seat not next to a crying child or an animal you are doing well for yourself. The alternative is to take a minibus between towns, these are also a dime a dozen, not to mention much quicker (not on time, just quicker) and you're guaranteed a seat. By and large you'll get lazy and take one of these everytime but if you have a short journey somewhere the chicken bus is an interesting experience.

From Tikal, if you don't have a whole lot of time to spare or you want something different to Mayan ruins, the next logical destination is either Lanquin (which is just a stones throw away from the lagoons and cave of Semuc Champey), or Semuc Champey itself where there are a couple self sufficient hostels right on the river's edge, this was my preferred choice.

The setting is beautiful and well worth the bus ride down which can be a little bit of a pain, the final 12km from Lanquin to Semuc Champey are bumpy to say the least. The water down stream is a murky turquoise but further up where the lagoons are it is crystal clear, with about seven or so lagoons running into one another.

The lagoons are part of a park so you have to pay an entrance fee to enter, this is 50Q. Once in you can either walk parallel to the river or up the hill next door to the look out point before descending to the lagoons. This isn't too strenuous a hike and the view is well worth it.

Semuc Champey lagoons in Guatemala

Semuc Champey lagoons

Semuc Champey lagoons

Semuc Champey lagoons

Semuc Champey lagoons

If you go on your own steam you can just hang about in the pools, but if you go with a guide, which only costs a little more, they take you to the waterfall downstream and you can check out the cave behind it which is pretty cool. To get back to the hostel in Semuc just hug the riverbed, once there if you need to go back to Lanquin just hop on the back of someones pickup.

If you do the tour, you can also get to go tubing at the end of the day and go to one of the local caves with the group. This is a fun experience as you go through the cave with nothing but a candle to help you lead the way. The cave walk is mostly in water too deep to walk through takes you into the back of the cave where you can climb up the walls and jump into a pool but you have to go out the same way you came in, through waterfalls and tiny cracks.

This is a cool experience but best when done in small groups, there were 24 people in the group I was in and as a result it takes ages to get through the cave, it also gets a little chilly as you wait for everyone else. All in all this is a cracking day out but try to do it on a day when there are limited people around to get the most out of it. 

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