Eleven kilometers south of Lanquín, along a rough, bumpy, slow road, is Semuc Champey famed for its great natural limestone 300m-long bridge, on top of which is a stepped series of pools of cool, flowing river water that’s great for swimming.
The water is from the Río Cahabón, and much more of it passes underground, beneath the bridge. Although this bit of paradise is somewhat challenging to get to, the beauty of its setting and the perfection of the pools, which range from turquoise to emerald green, make it all worthwhile.
Getting to Semuc Champey is a gruelling journey, be in no doubt.
Cobán to Lanquín is a distance of about 60 kilometres but, due to the road conditions, it takes around 2-hours to travel between the two. It is then a further 11 kilometres journey, from Lanquín to Semuc Champey, which takes about an hour, rough riding, in the back of a four-wheel drive pick up truck.
It is well worth the pain and discomfort of getting here.
The cascading turquoise pools of Semuc Champey are set in a lush mountain valley deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Far from any major town or city, the area is completely different to anywhere else in Guatemala.
Once you enter the national park, admission charge 50Q (£5.00), you follow a well marked circular path, which either takes you directly to the pools, or to the start of the relatively tough hike up to the mirador.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to the mirador viewing platform and it is definitely worth doing – the views are breathtaking. Once you have descended, a further 30 minutes, you can cool off and relax in one of the beautiful shallow pools.
There are plenty of accommodation opportunities in Lanquín, or indeed near Semuc Champey itself. I stayed at Utopia, an OK option – it’s quite basic.
View from the balcony at Utopia Hostel.