Semuc Champey!

Lanquin Travel Blog

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AFter 8 hours in a cramped mini vans (try a toyota van with 14 seats!) we found ourselves at a semi remote town called Lanquin. Actually, its not really that remote.... it is on the well worn Gringo trail. The town gave a super chilled out vibe with people dancing in the local square, people jump starting cars in the middle of the road, & smiles and waves everywhere. Our (lonely planet... dare I say those cursed words) preffered accomodation was full, so we jumped in the back of a truck to head one a little closer to semuc champey (the main attraction).

Turns out it was a great move... the accomodation was great. Right on the river, super friendly staff, good food and reasonable price (El Portal... to give it a plug).

Semuc Champey is a series of cascading pools down a gentle slope. At the top of the pools an enourmous amount of water (known as the Cahabon river) flows violently underground, beneath the pools. It's hard to imagine the wild river flowing beneath the peaceful pools. Since the river and pool water are seperate, it makes for an enjoyable swim in clear warm water amongst the stunning cloud covered mountains. it's really quite surreal.

The main selling point of the tour is descending a rope ladder over the front of the waterfall... which proved to be no dissapointment. The descent was onto a rock halfway down the waterfall, where you enter the cave from which the water exits (from underground). It all seems a bit sketchy at first, but really worth it.

We also heard talk of being able to jump off the last waterfall into the (somewhat turbulent) river below. It too seemed a little sketchy, but Carlon (guide) assured us it was ok. ... so off Broomy jumped, and we all followed. After a solid cluimb back up, we relaxed a little more in the pools... trying to perfect silly dives.

Later that day, we did another trip to a nearby cave..... with nothing but a candle in hand, we set off into the darkness.... swimming through the water, trying to keep the candle (and light source) above the waterline, swimming with your other free hand, but trying not to kick too hard in order to avoid cutting yourself on the sharp rocks hidden underwater.... also climbing up waterfalls, squeezing through aqua ducts barely big enough for person (with, not against the flow of water) and jumping off rocks... all inside the cave.

The next day it was time to move on, but I realised Ileft my iPod behind (3 hours down the road!), so I opted to return, leaving broomy to go on without me...

Once I got back to El Portal (accomodation), I realised I liked it that much, I decided to stay another couple of nights! I´m glad i stayed on as i was able to get another outdoors fix at the pools, and had a good chat with some of the locals about mayan culture and language. I didn´t realise that Mayan people actually have to learn spanish at school.... its not their first language. silly me.

After a few good nights of sleep & food by the river, it was time to catch up with Broomy... hopefully in Antigua...
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photo by: siri