Semuc Champey: Get to Paradise Before It’s Gone

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Day 46: Lanquin, Guatemala

Semuc Champey sealed the deal.

I’ve only been in Guatemala a week and I’ve decided it’s one of the world’s most underrated countries. I’m not entirely easy to please; sure I loved Mexico but I also hated Belize.

I had no expectations for Guatemala. But its rolling green hills and generous people have made me regret that I only allocated two weeks to travel here.

Guatemalan Food

The entire country isn’t worthy of adoration. Guatemala City is dangerous. Antigua is rather sanitized for the Spanish school crowd.

Tourism has changed it with scores of restaurants selling expensive pizza and pasta that win over the international traveler.

But I can forgive a country for one or two bad cities when its generosity extends to some of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen.

Lanquin, Guatemala

Lanquin is a very small village that has become a tourist destination because of it’s proximity to Semuc Champey.

It’s a popular backpacker destination, but it offers more than a night’s stay for a day trip to Semuc Champey.

The town itself is incredibly friendly. The influx of tourism appears to be welcomed but hasn’t diluted the village with tourist restaurants and stores.

For breakfast you can still walk up the hill to get an inexpensive desayuno tipico. Just make sure you know how to ask for it in Spanish as no English is spoken.

I chose to stay at El Retiro Lodge over the other hostel in the village because it is owned by Guatemalans.

The hostel supports 20 families that are trying to build tourism responsibly. Located on the river, there is also a restaurant, which seems a bit pricey.

But the profits go toward building a library in the village as none exists and most of the locals have no access to books.

 Semuc Champey in Guatemala is a popular travel destination with a beautiful series of stepped, turquoise pools that travelers swim in.

Despite the desire to spend all day in a hammock, there are many things to occupy your time. On a cave tour our guide caught a spider and a bat for us to see.

To his surprise, as the bat moved we saw that it was carrying a hairless baby bat that was barely two inches long.

The tour ended with us sitting in darkness at the mouth of the cave. We waited for a swarm of bats to exit for the night.

As we sat in the dark we could hear the eerie sound of thousands of wings flying over our heads.

I silently hoped that sonar really worked and none would fly into my face.

Semuc Champey

The most impressive sight of all is Semuc Champey. If you are going to Guatemala you must see this site.

It won’t be the same in 5 years as more tourists discover it.

The site is slightly developed, as an official park. It has an entrance fee of $6 which pays for the upkeep, staff who patrol the grounds and the trails that have been created to help navigate the grounds.

I haven’t seen The Beach and I can’t remember Blue Lagoon, but it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

I could write dozens of cheesy lines about spending the day in pools of aquamarine water and basking in its unspoiled splendor.

But it wouldn’t begin to describe its beauty.

It was one of the few times that the reality actually lived up to the legend.

Pin it: Semuc Champey Guatemala

Images (c) Filipo Brasesco, quote

Join the Conversation

  1. Breathtaking!! I can’t believe your life sometimes. We missed you this weekend for Apple Blossom but happy to know that you’re in paradise and doing well.

  2. I’ve been dying to Guatemala, but you’re right about it being underrated. I’ve heard so much about it only after moving to Central America. I just subscribed so I can keep better track of you, now that you’re in my neck of the woods. Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Such a lucky find, I love that park.

  4. That really does look amazing, I can’t wait until I’m on the road so I can just sit around and take in these types of places.

  5. Yeah so I just read an article about a huge sink hole in Guatemala – GET OUT NOW, the whole place is coming apart.

    Its one of the main stories on Yahoo Canada’s home page

  6. rebeccius says:

    Oooooo I can’t wait! I’ve been looking forward to this place. I’m glad to hear it lives up to the hype 🙂

  7. Michael Hodson says:

    I didn’t hit much in Guatemala and didn’t hit this park at all. Reason to go back, for sure. You paint (and photograph) a great picture.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:


      Hands down my favorite place in Guatemala, you need to go.

  8. Great article! I am heading to Guatemala in a few weeks so will definitely add this to my itinerary…can you please advise me on how you got to Lanquin? Is it easy to arrange buses yourself from Guatemala City to Coban and then onwards? And anything worth checking out in Coban?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The post right before this one is called the long road to Lanquin and I did it myself but it was a hassle. But there are a bunch of tourist shuttles that will take you there for under 20 bucks, you shouldn’t have any problem getting there.

  9. Glad you didn’t pooped on by any bats!!! hahaha

  10. i can’t wait to go!

  11. Adrian Qais says:

    I love your pictures and article. This was one of the best things I did in Central America!

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