Semuc Champey Natural Monument, Guatemala

Semuc Champey is one of those rarely talked about, hard to reach, and unbelievably beautiful places in the world that people are surprised to find out about. It was first mentioned to me while I was in Belize as “a beautiful national park to stop off at if you’re going south from Flores”.  From Flores, we rode a shuttle bus through central Guatemala to Coban. The rode was paved from end to end…with bone-rattling speed bumps. Couple that with a winding mountain road and it was easy to see why it took about 8 hours to go a mere 315km to the small Mayan town of Lanquin. We stayed at the beautifully situated Zephyr River Lodge (it’s a hostel).

The view from Zephyr River Lodge

From here to Semuc Champey, it’s another 11km which we covered in the back of a 4×4 truck on a rough unpaved road. Our first stop was a cave for some spelunking. In the cave, we climbed up a waterfall, jumped off a 4 or 5m rock ledge, slid down a tiny hole, and swam through dark and deep patches of water armed with only a candle. Our guide was well acquainted with the cave and guided us through with no problem. I wish I had worn shoes into the cave though cause I ended up cutting my feet on some sharp rocks while swimming. That being said, only 2 of the 10+ people in our group cut our feet.

From here we went over to a gigantic rope swing. As long as you long drop after you pass the blue buoys in the river, you’re ok. If not…well let’s just say there’s no hospital nearby. Then we went over to the bridge… to jump. I would estimate it at about 10-15m above the river. As you can imagine, only a few people took the leap.

Getting ready to jump off the bridge!

After lunch, we hiked up to the viewpoint in the park. It was only about 30 minutes but quite steep. At the top, we were treated to a breathtaking view of the cascading pools below. Then it was a quick 20 minutes hike down to the pools themselves. We got our waterproof cameras ready and jumped in! The pools cascade gently down and we swam, dove, and slid our way between each one. Well, until we reached a gigantic waterfall and couldn’t go any further. Then we swam back to our starting point. From there it was an easy 10 minute walk to the park entrance.

What an amazing day! And just when we thought that all that was left was a bumpy ride back to Lanquin we suddenly stopped. It turns out some American girl went loco after a local accidentally deleted all the pics on her camera and stormed off. She was literally yelling, screaming and throwing rocks at trees. And as if her behaviour wasn’t juvenile enough (mind you, she’s legally an adult), she walked off without telling her mom where she was going. The guides tried asking around for her but no one had seen her so after we stopped at some hostels and went back up to the park we finally left for Lanquin. Later on I found out that she had caught a ride back into town on her own without telling anyone. Way to freak out your mom you dumb bitch!

Have you ever been to a place like Semuc Champey? 

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