After Las Pozas and Aguas Calientes, it seemed right to stick with the inadvertent river theme we had developed and head to Semuc Champey. It is by far one of the highlights of Guatemala's natural beauty, one of those places that is difficult to describe, and pictures don't easily do it justice. A raging river flows several hundred feet through a rock tunnel that it has carved over thousands of years. Sitting on top of this tunnel is a series of terraced pools full of crystal blue water, spilling lazily into each other.
The road we took to get there was an adventure in and of itself. It's a long, winding, narrow, dirt road through some of the most gorgeous mountains we've seen yet. The scariest part was always when a bus would come the opposite direction. Figuring out how to get two fairly large vehicles past each other on a single lane road with a steep drop-off is a challenge, but there was always a sense of, “We're all driving this road together, we can make it work.”
On our route we came across a menacing road block. Two cute little boys holding up a piece of twine that we could have easily driven through, but we're suckers so we gave them a few bucks.
After the long tiring drive we ended up in Lanquin, a small mountain town that's sort of the gateway to Semuc. We set up camp at Hostel Oasis which is beautifully set on a hillside over a river.
We spent a few days chilling out and swinging on their rope swing into the frigid water when we needed to cool off.
Reportedly, the road from Lanquin to Semuc Champey is supposed to be worse than the road we took to Lanquin. It was extremely steep at times, and riddled with potholes at others, but we've started to get used to bad roads; it just adds to the fun. We found ourselves camping at Utopia Eco Hotel which might be one of the prettiest places we've ever stayed.
If you do a quick image search of Semuc Champey, you come up with hundreds of stunning images from a few hundred feet above the river. We wanted to see Semuc in all its glory, so we did the short but steep hike up to the overlook. It truly was impressive to get the bird's-eye view of the pools...after jockeying for position at the viewing platform with the fifty other people that were all trying to get the same shot.
Crowded as the overlook was, it was totally worth it. Arriving at the pools, there was plenty of space to spread out, relax, and enjoy the river.