Semuc Champey In Guatemala: A Not So Hidden Paradise

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Guatemala was my favorite country I visited, by far.  It had everything.  There was beach (that I didn’t go to,) ruins, and volcanos.  It had the best stuff to buy and it was all cheap, too.  And then there was Semuch Champey.  This is reason enough to go there.  It’s also one of the best outdoor adventures in all of Central America.  Well, at least I think so.


Semuc Champey is a little slice of Guatemalan paradise that deserves a visit.  It’s nature’s waterpark with limestone ledges to jump off of and smooth rock waterslides from pool to pool.  Some pools are deeper than others, but the water is just as emerald in all of them.

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To start off, you can do a fairly steep hike up to a lookout point to see the pools from above.  It’s a bit of work, but well worth it for what you get to see from up there.  It’s a preview of what you’re about to experience.  You can do this (and see the pools) on your own or part of a group tour type thing.


I’m not big on jumping off of things, like, anything really, but I couldn’t go through here and not do it.  We were presented with a cliff, maybe not quite a cliff, but it seemed pretty high when you were standing at the edge.  I tried once and failed so I waited until the end and made myself do it.  I’m glad I did, but I probably won’t be jumping off of anything else anytime soon!


That was what I jumped from, crazy, right?

Once you get to the end of the pools, you get to walk back to the beginning right alongside them for more stunning views of the glowing emerald limestone pools and falls.  The river continues on past most of the lodging options in Lanquin, so no matter where you stay, you’ve got a wonderful river view.  This was a nice surprise in the morning since I arrived at night after a 30-minute rough pickup truck ride in the dark.  That was an adventure in itself.  Definitely worth a visit though, even if it’s just for one full day.


Not only, though, are there ledges to leap from, but this bridge as well.  Did I do it?  Good one!  I could barely stand near the edge when trucks came across.  Oh, yeah, trucks drive on this thing, boards rattling under your feet, people hanging off the edge waiting to jump.  The local kids though, they hop onto the cables and run up those things no hands and hop right off, like they do this every day, oh wait, they definitely do!  They also try and sell you cerveza and chocolate, a lot.


Helpful things:

  • It’s probably more convenient to stay right by Semuc Champey, instead of in Lanquin, if you want to visit on your own.
  • I think I did see people hitchhiking back to Lanquin though, so it’s not impossible to visit from there on your own.
  • Lanquin is where Zephyr Lodge is, the big party hostel.
  • I stayed at El Portal right by Semuc Champey and liked it.  The views are wonderful and I would definitely go back.
  • Find out more about the best hostels at Semuc Champey.
  • It’s totally possible to visit without a tour.  The hike up to the overlook and then to the pools themselves are pretty easy to find.
  • I think you definitely need a tour if you want to do the cave tour, though, and for good reason.
  • Food is very limited.  Most places, the hostel itself is the only place to get it.
  • It’s a long journey to get here from anywhere, so really be committed to going.  It’s totally worth it though.
  • There is a candlelight cave tour you can do, but I didn’t because it sounds like a nightmare to me.  You’re walking through rushing water, climbing slippery ladders, and jumping into who knows what, all while holding a thin white candle.  No thank you.

Need flights?  Check out Skyscanner!  It’s my favorite way to find cheap flights.

Have you been to Semuc Champey?  Do you want to?  What did you think of it?

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