After a hike through the Guatemalan jungle, I found paradise. The natural limestone bridge & turquoise blue pools of Semuc Champey had revealed themselves.
From the town of Lanquin, the national park of Semuc Champey is a bumpy and winding 30 minute pickup-truck ride into the jungle. Standing in the back of the truck, you get a great view of the scenery around you.
Then the Cahabòn River comes into view for the first time.
The color is incredible. A strong bright turquoise blue that sharply stands out from the surrounding green jungle.
After entering the park, a short but steep 45 minute hike will put you high up in the cliffs where you can look down at the beautiful limestone shelf far below. This natural stepped formation was created by the Cahabòn River, which now flows under it.
But some water still passes over the top, which creates the magnificent blue-green pools and small waterfalls.
After hiking back down the other side of the viewpoint, you meet up with the water itself. A short walk up-river reveals where the water rushes underground.
A few people have fallen in here before, never to be found again…
Because of that, the park hired a guy to stand near the hole with a whistle to warn people when they get too close to the edge.
Semuc Champey Pools
Walking back down-river, the clear pools of water open up before you. Some areas are deep enough to dive into from high points on the limestone shelf.
There are fish swimming in them, and waterfalls to hang out under — even smooth rock watersides!
Semuc Champey is a natural water-park in the middle of nowhere.
The limestone has little caves too, and you can swim into them and look out from underneath a waterfall. After a little exploring, I found one cave that was only accessible by swimming to it underwater.
You could swim under the shelf and pop up in a cave! It was lit from the sunlight outside reflecting from the bright blue water.
After spending the day diving from waterfalls, swimming into caves, and chasing fish around, it was time to head back to the town of Lanquin. Because I didn’t go with a tour, I’d needed to hitch a ride back with someone.
On the way out I ran into another group of international travelers who had the same idea.
We all started walking back to town after waiting for a while without seeing any trucks drive by. We found a roadside bar and ordered a few cervezas while we waited.
Stone Fire Pizza!
One truck finally stopped, and we tried to bargain with the driver on a price. Our efforts failed when he suddenly drove off without us! It was getting dark, and we really didn’t want to walk 9 km (14 miles) through the jungle at night.
Luckily another truck came by, and we quickly agreed to his inflated price.
After getting dropped off in the center of town, I walked back to my hostel to enjoy a beer & delicious stone-fire oven pizza. The perfect way to end an adventure at Semuc Champey National Park. ★
Traveling To Guatemala Soon?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
Location: Lanquin, Guatemala
Accommodation: Zephyr Lodge
Cost: $6 USD entry fee
Useful Tips: You don’t need a guide to visit Semuc Champey, just “hitch” a ride to the park with a local or another tour van from the center of town for $2-3 US.
Have you ever been hiking in the jungle? Any favorite spots? Drop me a message in the comments below!