Travel in Guatemala: Swim in Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is a jaw-dropping hidden gem, located deep in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle. ❤
DSC_2192This natural wonder consists of a breathtaking limestone bridge, and a series of crystal clear turquoise pools that cascade through the forest.DSC_2229Beneath the pools flows the Cahabón River.
DSC_2224When I went, I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. So beautiful! ❤DSC_2181

Getting there:

Now, my experience getting to Semuc Champey can be summarized with the following quote:

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Although it was a lengthy process, it was worth it in the end. First, it began with a 9-hour ride from Flores to Lanquin, which I arranged through Los Amigos Hostel for 13 USD. The winding road we took was very bumpy, and they had crammed 13 of us in a small van, stopping once for a toilet break, and a second time in the city of Cobán, to buy food at the mall, and use an ATM.

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mall in Coban

I couldn’t imagine how anybody could be comfortable on these roads, but sure enough, I was proved wrong when I saw this kid totally passed out on top of a box, in the truck bed of the car in front of us. Hah! 😛

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kid taking a snooze on a box in a truck bed on our bumpy journey to Lanquin

Anyway, after 9 hours, we finally arrived in the small town of Lanquin, where my hotel picked me up to take me the rest of the way.

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street scene in Lanquin

The truck crawled on this 4-mile journey from Lanquin to the hotel, which took roughly 40 minutes due to the terrible road conditions. Our hotel driver even made the sign of the cross multiple times during the ride! Yikes! Anyway, it all seemed worth it when I finally arrived at my accommodation, which was aptly named, Utopia Eco Hotel. 🙂

Accommodation: Utopia Eco HotelDSC_2138

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Utopia Eco Hotel- looking out over the jungle

Utopia Eco Hotel is surrounded by lush forest, full of tropical plants and fruits. DSC_2140DSC_2148DSC_2142Utopia Eco Hotel has a comfortable common area, with DVDs and games for the guests. DSC_2147For example, I spent my first evening playing Apples to Apples with some Swedish girls before falling asleep in my outdoor bedroom to sounds of cicadas buzzing away. Even better, I got to wake up to this view the next morning! ❤20170503_063956The hotel has a wide range of accommodation, ranging from 7 USD hammocks to 55 USD cabanas. Personally, I chose a 10 USD bunk bed. DSC_2135DSC_2136The hotel also offers spa services, chocolate-making classes, and Spanish lessons to their guests, plus they sell a wide range of organic products and handcrafted jewelry.

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cacao nibs drying in the sun
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handcrafted jewelry

They also serve vegetarian, family-style meals, with options like cheesy pasta, salad, bread, and dessert for only 7 USD. 

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Activities: Swim in Semuc Champey

One of the must-do activities here is to visit the natural pools of Semuc Champey. Tours can be organized for 25 USD, but I chose to visit the place on my own. To start, I took a 45-minute walk from my hotel to the entrance of Semuc Champey.

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path to Semuc Champey

The path was a bit hilly, but it offered stunning scenic views of the Guatemalan hillside. Wow!DSC_2157On my way I passed a hillside church, another eco resort, and a typical Guatemalan home.
DSC_2240DSC_2162DSC_2158Finally I arrived at a yellow bridge, which is the entrance to Semuc Champey.DSC_2163The entrance to the natural monument is 7 USD for foreigners.
DSC_2166Here’s the park map, which seemed pretty easy to navigate.DSC_2164 I began with a hike to El Mirador, or the viewpoint over the pools. This was the most challenging task, as it involved an hour of stairs and hills to the top. DSC_2168Fortunately I found some sweet locals selling watermelon halfway up, which kept me hydrated, and I had some workout music blasting on my phone to keep my energy high. 🙂

beastmode
channeling my inner beast, to gather motivation to make it to the top 😛

Anyway, within no time I had reached El Mirador, an had a stunning panoramic view over Semuc Champey.

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viewpoint of Semuc Champey

From there I made my way to the pools, to take a dip in the crystal clear water.

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side note: they have changing rooms and bathrooms on-site

On my way there, I spotted lots of wild howler monkeys, and vibrant butterflies. I also heard plenty of birds, but couldn’t move quick enough with my camera.

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wild howler monkeys

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Additionally, on my way back towards the hotel, I saw kids playing in tubes by the river. Another great way to enjoy the beauty of this natural water park! 🙂DSC_2236

Overall, it was an incredible place to enjoy the beauty of nature, and detach from the world for a bit. I ended my last evening in Semuc with another spectacular sunset at Utopia Eco Hostel, where I packed my bags and prepared to say farewell. Up next, I will be in the city of Antigua, a place full of culture and cuisine. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂

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sunset in Semuc Champey
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