Set just outside (about 6 miles) the small town of Lanquín in Guatemala, Semuc Champey is a set of crystalline pools which have become extremely popular with travellers recently. Situated over the Río Cahabón in Alta Verapaz, it consists of a natural 300 m limestone bridge. While under this bridge you can see the Cahabón River flowing, atop is the series of beautiful pools—forming a staircase of turquoise pools that extend over a natural limestone bridge. The river stretches about 196 kilometres where it winds through caves and jungles and snakes through the Semuc Champey land bridge. The water is the runoff from the Río Cahabón, which tunnels underground before resurfacing downstream of the pools. The colour of the water is extremely bright turquoise blue that sharply stands out from the surrounding green jungle.
Semuc being a part of the backpacker trail in Guatemala has therefore quickly grown to be Guatemala’s best spots for swimming and sunning. But aside from relaxing at these calm pools, it also offers a series of trails or hanging bridges (that extend into the nearby forest) which the travellers can walk along with! So explore the spot where the Río Cahabón plunges underground or take a hike up a steep trail that leads to a lookout with excellent views of the pools.
Tucked away in the densely forested mountains of Alta Verapaz, Semuc Champey’s limestone formations also includes little caves. So, you can swim into them and take a look out from underneath a waterfall.
Climate and Altitude
Semuc Champey is at an altitude of approximately 341 m. Therefore, climate-wise it is usually warm, just like a typical tropical rainforest jungle. However, it gets colder through the night. As it is surrounded by tropical jungle, Semuc Champey is often clouded, especially in the rainy season.
Now as far as the temperature of the water is concerned, it not too warm, and provides much-needed refuge from the Guatemalan heat. The paths here are wet, rocky, and visibility can be limited. Thus, we would suggest you carry sturdy footwear for this trip.
How to Reach the Natural Paradise at Semuc Champey
First, reach Lanquin from Flores, Antigua or Guatemala City. You can also take the bus that will take up to 12 hours. Now Semuc Champey is only about 10 kilometres (or 6 miles) from Lanquin. But keep in mind that those 10 kilometres aren’t particularly easy to travel.
In Lanquin, you can either walk for about 2.5 hours or take a pickup truck “taxi” to the entrance of the falls. Many of these pick-up trucks are part of hostels, but almost anyone can hitch a ride with one of them. Now begins the 40 gruelling minutes drive to the pools. This is an incredibly bumpy journey, so be prepared! But then, the destination is worth the bruises gained in the process.
So, add this hidden natural gem in your bucket list and do let us know about your experiences below!