If you’ve done your research on getting to Semuc Champey in Guatemala….you’ve heard what a trek it is! Well, we confirmed just to make sure 😉 On a 10 day trip through Guatemala with my mom for Christmas one year, we decided to add this to our itinerary.
The supposed 7 hour bus ride took us 10.5 hours from our hotel in Antigua to Greengos Hotel in Lanquin/Semuc. We rode with Adventura Touristica on a 24 passenger van, with no AC and every seat filled. Note that the bus will take you almost all the way there and then they drop you at a location where jeeps then take everyone the rest of the way to which ever hostel you are staying at. There is only a few hotels/hostels to choose from in Semuc, I recommend staying in one that you can walk to Semuc from, which we could from Greengos Hotel.
My mom and I got a private room with a queen and twin bed and private bathroom for $45 a night, but there is dorm rooms available for $9/ night as well.
The property was great, we played volleyball with the staff and guests one day and enjoyed the communal hang out bar area that had games and music. They have food available here as well, a little expensive and average but there is not much else around.
This is a VERY remote area of Guatemala, so as expected, the rooms are simple and made of wood, there is no AC or internet and the electricity only runs for certain hours during the day. Enjoy being disconnected!
Swimming At Semuc Champey – It was recommended to us to pay for a guide to walk us to Semuc, but we gathered a group of 4 and walked ourselves very easily! It was a 10 minute walk from Greengos Hotel, then another 10 minute walk once we were inside the park.
We found a place to keep our things and jumped in! It was breath taking. The water was cool and turquoise, the pools were mixed with locals and a few tourists. It was not over populated.
We swam around for a few hours and I took a ton of photos and then we hiked up to El Mirador (a must), the view point. 600 steps, tall steps! It took around 30-45 minutes but it was so beautiful at the top, seeing the cascading pools flowing down. Our hotel host warned of us people getting robbed on the climb up but we had no problems.
Cave Tour– We hiked back down and walked about 15 minutes to check out the cave tour/tubing location across the yellow bridge. With just a burning candle each to light the way, we started our cave tour. I wasn’t expecting much, just a simple walk through a cave. OH BOY was I in for a surprise! We swam, while holding the candle above water, climbed through holes, up ladders, even up a rushing water fall holding into a rope while the water gushed over your face. And then ended at a small cliff jumping spot inside the cave before turning around to head back. There was one change in our route on our return, we jumped down into a hole with a waterfall gushing through it and you couldn’t see what you were jumping into on the other side! The girl in front of my my mom went first and my mom turned to me and mouthed “holy shit”. Mind you she’s not really scared of anything…. so this terrified me! Then she jumped, immediately disappearing to the other side and then it was my turn. She tried to catch me on the other side but I had jumped in and was under water before she even realized I had gone! It was absolutely gorgeous in the cave and such an adventure. Far exceeded my expectations and definitely worth checking out while you are here!
Giant Rope Swing -we returned to the entrance of the cave tour to get our belongings and one of the local boys working there invited us to swing on a rope swing into the river. We all took our turn out on the giant rope swing, and the view once you were in the water looking down the river was breathtaking, it didn’t even look real. Don’t be scared to give this a try as well!
We started making our way back to the hotel after stopping for lunch at an outdoor grill eating area that we spotted near the bridge. We had a delicious meal of fried chicken, rice, beans, and avocado. We also stopped at local woman’s home that we saw on the way. My mom asked her if she could pet her chickens and then we saw that she had cocao beans out drying. She let us taste them and explained that the “chocolate” still has a very bitter taste in its most raw cocoa form. It was a great adventure packed day! Semuc is a nice escape from the world for a few days.
We headed back to Antigua the next day on a, this time, 14 hour bus ride! An oil truck had tipped over on the highway and stopped traffic for several hours. Luckily we had made some new friends by this point and we just made the most of it! It was quit an adventure to say the least.