If you are planning to visit Central America, don’t forget to add Semuc Champey Guatemala to your list. You will find various sceneries in this country that you will surely enjoy. Also, if you are looking for a great adventure trip, Guatemala is the place for it. I’m an ex-pat living in Guatemala and, in my opinion, Semuc Champey is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Guatemala. Here is this, an exploration experience I had in Guatemala and an adventure that I won’t forget. Get to know what nature adventure are you in for, in this post, you’ll find a lot of useful information for your trip to Semuc Champey in Guatemala, from things to do to where to stay and many more.
For the last year and a half, I have been spending my days exploring Guatemala as much as I can. And it was time for a new trip, so for this adventure, we were staying in the colorful Coban town which we toured before doing anything else.
It turned out to be a beautiful town filled with restaurants and hotels. Then the next day we visited the Lanquin Caves where we were surprised by hundreds of bats and some beautiful rock formations. Then for the last part of our adventures in the area, we went to Semuc Champey.
About Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is one of many Guatemalan beauties located in the Alta Verapaz Department. It is a natural monument that consists of a natural 300 m limestone bridge, under which the Cahabon River makes its way and ends in a beautiful waterfall. Its name means the place where the river goes underground. There is also some water that runs over the natural bridge, which forms turquoise pools where you can go for a swim. There is also the option of just enjoying the surrounding nature.
Once you leave the main road, you will still have to go a few kilometers on a dirt road, so it is better to rent an SUV or take a shuttle there. Because small cars don’t do great here.
Top Things to do at Semuc Champey
Swim in the Pools
The main reason to come to Semuc Champey is to take a swim in the stunning and clear pools of water. In the park, you can find a variety of pools, but most of them are incredibly large and can hold many people, so, you can swim without hesitation.
Also, you can even slide on the falls! On the lower one, you can find a natural rock formation that serves as a slide, you should try it!
Hike to El Mirador
As soon as we got there, my husband and I wanted to visit the “El Mirador” from here you get a bird’s eye view of the whole place, and it looks so beautiful that you won’t believe it.
100 m away from the entrance of the park, on the left, there’s an uphill walk that will take you to the lookout point (you’ll see a sign before heading all the way up). The hike is considered to be of moderate difficulty (since it’s an uphill walk), you’ll get to El Mirador in half-hour, depending on your pace. At the top, you’ll find a platform where you can take some great photos. The views from the top are INCREDIBLE and totally worth it, you’ll be able to see the whole landscape of the falls and the river.
You should do the hike to El Mirador first, before taking a swim in the pools, that way you can have a refreshing and rewarding swim after.
In case you didn’t book a tour at the hotel or at an agency, you’ll find some locals near the bridge offering tubing and at the entrance to the waterfall, you can’t possibly miss this. The prices range from Q10 to Q15, it’s not expensive,
A fun take of the tubing is that you can actually use it to get back to your hotel, in case, you’re staying at one of the hotels near the river.
Visit the Cave (K’an Ba or Kanba)
In order to get to enter the cave, you need to pay an entrance fee (something you pay for a full tour of the caves, tubing, and swing rope at an agency or at the hotel), the payment is made at the same place where you pay for tubing.
If you like adventure, this is for you. After entering the cave, you will get a candle, and you must take care of it, which is not an easy task since you’ll be traversing through a maze. The path is quite unique, you’ll need to swim in pools like 20 m, threading your way through nooks and crannies, and climbing ladders while holding the candle.
When to Go to Semuc Champey
A good time to go to Semuc Champey is during the dry season, from November to April, during this period time doesn’t rain too much and the Cahabon River is clear. Also, this is when most of the tourists, both locals, and foreigners, go to the falls, so it’s pretty crowded.
Guatemala’s weather is tropical, if you decide to go during the wet season, you’ll face more rainy days, but there will be fewer tourists on the pools, and you’ll get to enjoy it a lot more.
How to Get to Semuc Champey
First of all, in order to get to Semuc Champey you need to get to Lanquin Town, it’s possible to rent a car to get there, but I don’t recommend you this. The safest way is to hire a minibus from a travel agency in Guatemala City or any other larger city. The minibus or van will arrive at Lanquin Town and this is where your journey to the beautiful pools will start. You can choose between walking 2.5h to the falls or taking 4WD car taxi to the entrance.
Many of the hotels located on Lanquin and outside the town offer tours to the falls, which is a great option too,
Where to Stay
For visiting this region we thought of staying closer to it, so we checked in a little rustic lodge in the region that looked cute, but I didn’t really like it. And don’t worry it’s not the only one around, so there is still hope!
But you need to keep in mind that the area is very remote so there aren’t any luxury hotels, most of them are smaller and simple hostels. This isn’t something that would have kept me from going there, but it is important to be aware of that.
There are many places to stay in Lanquin Town and outside the town too. So I’m going to list three of my favorite options for you to choose.
Hostal el Portal
This one is located near (like 10min walk) Semuc Champey on a side of the Cahabon River, outside Lanquin Town. The hostal is affordable with a great location, the food is decent, and the staff is helpful and friendly. They offer a clean pool too and many other amenities that can make you stay comfy.
Another great option if you want to stay near the falls, Greengo’s Hotel is located only 15min walk from the falls and offers tons of decent amenities for a traveler to fully enjoy their stay, like hot tubs, pools, free wifi, they have a great restaurant and bar. The rooms and bathrooms are very clean, and the staff is very friendly. One of the best options if you want to opt for the falls, caves, and tubing tours.
This lodge is located a bit far from Lanquin Town (but sure a LOT closer than the Greengo’s Hotel and El Portal Hostal), this means you’ll need to take the 11 km 4×4 trip to Semuc Champey. The Zephyr Lodge is only 2 km away from the Lanquin Caves systems, since it’s in the town it’s a bit more updated. The Lodge offers tons of amenities like free wifi, a pool, hot tubs, a restaurant, and a bar. The food is decent, and the staff has a great vibe
Where to Eat in Semuc Champey
Some hotels in the area will give you a lunch box to take with you to the falls, but you will notice that once you get to Semuc Champey, at the entrance there are different food vendors. You can buy a full traditional meal with frijoles, tortillas, rice or pasta, salad, and meat. Also, in the area are other vendors selling beers and other drinks as well. Keep that in mind, in case you want to have a different experience and support the locals
What to Bring
To have an idea of what to bring to Semuc Champey, you should know that the paths are wet most of the time, and rocky. So, don’t come with flip-flops. I recommend you to bring some sturdy sneakers with a hard sole.
I’m going to make a list of things to bring to the falls:
Comfy but Sturdy Shoes
A Cooling Towel and a Normal Towel
Do you need a tour for Semuc Champey?
You don’t actually need a tour for Semuc Champey, it’s easy to get there, but I highly recommend that you book a tour, especially if it’s your first time coming to Guatemala. Since you’ll be staying at Guatemala City or Antigua, it will be easier for you to get to the falls using a tour.
If you’re not a first-timer, you can go there without a tour. The easiest way to go to Semuc Champey without a tour is to get to Lanquin and stay at one of the hotels that are close to the falls (like Greengo’s Hotel).
Sadly this adventure had to end, and it was time to start the drive back to Antigua Guatemala.
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