Everyone raves about Semuc Champey but before I went, I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I knew it was a waterfall, but from the photos, it just looked like a rocky river. Now I know, the photos don’t do it justice!
Although getting there was a nightmare. It’s easy enough to book shuttles from all the major destinations (Flores, Coban, Rio Dulce, Antigua and Guatemala City). However, the roads are awful. They are not paved and wind around cliff edges. It is virtually inaccessible except by really sturdy four wheel drives. Our driver was also speeding and talking on his cell phone at the same time. On top of that, it started pouring down rain. There were literally rivers running through the roads. I felt car sick and couldn’t wait to get to Lanquin.
Lanquin is the closest town to Semuc Chmapey and is where all the shuttles drop off travelers. There are plenty of options for hotels and hostels in town, but I decided to book my stay at Utopia Eco Hostel, which is located another hour away, within the park. They can arrange for transportation to pick you up at Lanquin but you have to let them know ahead of time.
After such an awful journey, I was in a bad mood, but immediately cheered up when I arrived at Utopia. It’s a very beautiful hostel located by the Cahabon River and surrounded by mountains. Almost all the buildings are open air with huge views of misty mountains in the mornings and starry skies at night. The atmosphere is really nice too. It was very easy for me to meet people, but at the same time, it’s not a crazy party hostel. There’s a full kitchen there and the meals are really tasty. However, because it is located far from town, the prices are a bit expensive and you have no other choice but to purchase from there. Wifi wasn’t good, but I didn’t care. I wanted to unplug and enjoy the scenery.
The very next day I went to Semuc Champey. Most people do a caving tour, then a hike to the view spot at El Mirador and end their day swimming in Semuc. Unfortunately for me, a fire ant bit my toe while hiking in the Rio Dulce and was now extremely swollen. A pharmacist recommended that I take anti histamines and keep off my foot for three days. So, no caving or hiking for me. I still had the most amazing time though.
Semuc Champey is a limestone bridge over the Cahabon River that is covered with thousands of different sized waterfalls descending into several natural pools. The water is crystal clear blue and refreshingly cool. Surrounding you are the mountains and jungle. I spent the entire day there, lounging by the pools, swimming, reading, taking photos, and journaling. It was perfect.
So while the journey to get to Semuc Champey is difficult, it is well worth it!
Know Before You Go to Semuc Champey
- All roads to Semuc are extremely difficult.
- The pools are crystal clear even in the rainy season; plus there are less tourists!
- The weather is warm during the day and cooler at night.
- Utopia Eco Hostel is not listed on HostelWorld or any other booking site. You have to email them and then pay a deposit through PayPal.
- You need to let Utopia Eco Hostel know when you are arriving so that they can pick you up (it’s free transportation).
- Utopia does accept cards but the internet can be bad so it’s best to bring extra cash.
- Several people I met said they got sick after Semuc. I suspect it’s from the food served at the park. Avoid it and order a packed lunch from your hostel if possible.