Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
While dropping into Antigua, Guatemala for the 3rd time in 6 months. Yes I love this mountain city surrounded by active volcanoes with warm days and cool nights it’s magical here! More on that later. I kept hearing the same buzz from fellow travelers again and again. You have to go to Lanquin and travel into Semuc! It’s a MUST SEE while in Guatemala “Semuc Champey”. This is what Wikipedia had to say “Semuc Champey is a natural monument in the department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, near the Q’eqchi Maya town of Lanquin. It consists of a natural 300 m limestone bridge, under which passes the Cahabon River. Atop the bridge is a series of stepped, turquoise pools, a popular swimming attraction. Although it can be difficult to get to, Semuc is becoming more and more popular with travelers”. I was planning on leaving the next morning so I booked myself a seat on what turned out to be a packed no A/C shuttle van for the 7 plus hour all day trip and a reservation for a river side Cabana with El Retiro River Lodge in Lanquin for 4 nights over the May long weekend all for 720 Q which is around $100 US. Off we went bright and early the next morning with the van definitely overloaded and minimal stops we arrived in Lanquin 8 hrs later and were greeted by a flurry of locals trying escort us to our accommodations for a small price. The lodge was a bit outside of town and a truck picked us up. Yes in the back. Checked into my tiny Cabaña and headed to the river side bar for a cold beer and signed up for the communal dinner. I personally enjoy the occasional communal meal. It’s like a big family dinner and a chance to meet and share stories. Very social and usually a big party. It is going to be a quiet night as no hangover for the full day trip tomorrow to Semuc Champey. 8:30 am and we all piled into the back of the truck for the 45 min drive into the jungle and I venture to say I could be the only one not hung over! 45 mins in the back of that truck was a workout in itself. Through thick burnt jungle , over bumpy winding dirt roads. The occasional broken down truck that needed a push and then across a shaky old narrow bridge and we arrived at our starting point. The day is full first a hike up the mountain to look down on pools, then the hike down to swim in the cool green pools, then a swim with candles in the water caves and finally tubing down the river to hang out at bridge and water swing and catch our ride back before sunsets. The hike up was good and steep and I’m so happy I’m not suffering from a few to many as I’m hearing some moans and groans in the group. There was some staircases to help us to the top where the look off is. What a beautiful spot. Surreal as you looked over the valley and pools. On the way up we came across and this local family selling drinks and snacks. Cute little kids sitting in the jungle heat and how proud older brother was of his shoes. The view over the jungle was incredible and we could see people swimming in the pools down below. The trip down was much quicker and a hell of lot easier and we were at the pools. The pools form from water and limestone seeping from mountain springs and looks green but crystal clear and the water is cool compared to the heat and humidity. It wasn’t long and we were swimming between the many pools. So refreshing and a beer would be nice as I could hang here all day. Next were the water caves for a candle light swim through the dark tight cramped spaces. Not sure how I even fit through certain openings but I made it in and back when so many dropped out half way through because it was crazy creepy. Especially trying to swim in water over your head holding a candle with one hand. Needless to say we lost a few candles to the water and I really pushed my comfort zone. Tubes were waiting for a lazy float out to the pick up spot and hang out at the bridge and river swing till the trip back. No I never gave the crazy swing a try or jump from bridge. I’m not crazy. I went for a beer. I could hear the groaning as we packed into the back of the rusty old truck. The sun was going to set soon and we had to beat it out. The setting sun over the scorched hillsides made for some beautiful shots and everyone is beat looking forward to some food, drink and relaxation back at lodge. Spending a day in the unspoiled jungle, a truly amazing place on earth. I’ll always cherish this adventure and can’t say enough about it. I highly recommend you visit. You know if you ever find yourself in the interior jungle of Guatemala?