A visit to Semuc Champey is a total must on your Guatemalan adventure! The beautiful limestone pools are one of a kind and an unforgettable experience as you get an amazing view from the lookout, and then get refreshed with a swim through them! Semuc Champey is situated in Lanquin, a town in the central highlands of Guatemala surrounded by mountains. Our experience in Lanquin was unforgettable as we feel we got to see a different side of Guatemala that we didn’t experience other places. There is no need to hire a guide to visit Semuc Champey so that way you can be on your own schedule. Doing this on your own won’t really save you much money versus the tour, but you get the freedom to be on your own schedule and it always feels so much more adventurous to do it on your own! Continue reading for more info on Semuc Champey and other adventurous activities in Lanquin.
How To Get There
Getting to Lanquin:
We won’t lie, it is a little bit out of the way but we’ve gone further out of the way for less. The closest city is Coban, which is at least a 2 hour drive from Lanquin where Semuc Champey is situated. The last 45 minutes on your way to Lanquin is a very bumpy rocky road where the driver seems to get closer to the cliffs edge on each turn. To get into Lanquin from Coban there is a local shuttle that you can take. However, you are probably coming from somewhere much further that Coban, such as Flores or Antigua. You can probably find a local method of transport to Coban and take the shuttle, however, for as low as Q120 ($16USD) you can take transportation provided by a tourism company that will take you and your luggage all the way. If your coming from Flores or Antigua, you are looking at least at an 8 hour trip so in our opinion the Q120 is worth it. Some companies will ask for Q150 but you can get it for Q120. When your min bus arrives in Lanquin people asking where you are staying will bombard you. They work for your place of accommodation and will hook you up with a free ride to where you are staying
Lanquin to Semuc Champey:
Semuc Champey is approximately 10km from Lanquin but takes about 40 minutes on the back of a truck/‘taxi’ as the road is really rough. These taxis are super easy to grab and will cost you Q20 a person. The driver will probably ask for a higher price at first but it is easy to bargain down. You can ask the driver to come back to pick you up at a certain time but with things like this you never know how long you will want so we recommend just finding a different truck for the way back as that is what we did.
The lady working at our hostel was super helpful and she recommended we wait until 10am before leaving the hostel to head over to Semuc Champey. She said this way all the tours would be ahead of us and it would be much less busy, and it was! Upon arrival you will have to pay an entrance fee of Q50 ($7USD). From the entrance you will most likely want to hike to El Mirador (The Lookout) first for an amazing view of the limestone cascade. The hike up took about 30 minutes and we were wearing Birkenstock’s. From there you can continue on the trail down to the pools where you can cool off and enjoy an unforgettable swim as you move down through all the different pools. Don’t forget to check out the waterfall that is just past the cascade’s.
Also, a part of Semuc Champey is the K’an Ba Caves and to be honest we did not realize that this was the caves where you trek through water holding only a lit candle for light. You need a guide for this part and whether or not you can get a guide there for this, or have to book the full tour, we are not sure because we did not realize this until visiting Grutas de Lanquin (Lanquin Caves) and discovering there was no water or candles in this one.
Other Adventurous Activities in Lanquin
- Grutas de Lanquin
The Lanquin Cave is best visited at sunset. As the sunsets and it gets dark outside, the bats begin leaving the cave. ALL THE BATS! If you sit right at the entrance this is where you get the most epic view of all the bats flying out of the cave. Bring a light so you can actually see them or else it will be too dark and you will only hear them. We confused info about K’an Ba Cave and thought we needed to hire the local guide at the front but you don’t. Entrance costs Q30. The caves aren’t the most spectacular we have ever seen but if your going to see the bats, go a little early and take a stroll through. There are lights and a path in the cave that are simple to follow.
- River Tubing
There are two locations you can go river tubing in Lanquin. One place is inside the visitors desk to Grutas de Lanquin (Lanquin Cave). We paid Q5 to do the river tubing and Q20 to rent a tube. You take a relaxing ride down the river for about 30 minutes until you get out at the Hostel Oasis. The second place you can do this is starting at the bridge by Semuc Champey where you will see people sitting around with tubes that you can rent. We did the cave tubing from Grutas de Lanquin so we are not sure what this one is like but apparently it is shorter.
- Local Market
As we always love and recommend, take a stroll through the market. There is just mostly fruits but its worth a walk and you can also get some delicious tacos! The market is located right by the city hall in the centre of Lanquin.