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Hidden deep in the Guatemalan jungle is one of the most beautiful oasis you can find, Semuc Champey.
Difficult to get to? Yes.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Post Last Updated April 2nd, 2019
How to get to Semuc Champey, Guatemala
In order to visit Semuc Champey, you will need to get to the town of Laquin, which is a small town built around this natural wonder. Busses run to Lanquin from other cities in Guatemala. Most people go from Antigua or Lake Atitlan. Me and my travel companions thought it would be a quicker ride to get there from Xela so we stopped there to check out the hot springs for a few days. In the end, it still took us about 12 hours from Xela.
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Wherever you’re coming from, this bus ride is notorious for being awful. And that is 100% true. You drive through a varying degree of road quality in a cramped shuttle with hairpin turns on a frequent basis.
The bus driver stopped twice about every four hours. Once at a store where you can get some questionable fried food and a second time in the town of Coban, which has better food options. After Coban it’s another 2 1/2 hour drive. I found this part of the drive even more brutal as the fog was so thick we had almost no visibility. This, combined with hair pin turn dirt roads, was a terrifying experience. Alas, I live to write the tail.
Where to stay while visiting Semuc Champey in Laquin, Guatemala
Zephyr Lodge has certainly gained a reputation among the backpacker trail in Guatemala. Some love it, while others will tell you to stay away. Personally, I loved this place. It’s a gorgeous lodge set high in the mountains with an infinity pool overlooking the river below. Below is a drone video showing the lodge.
Zephy lodge offers private room and shared accommodation. Inside there is a large bar/shared social space, and outside there is the infinity pool and hot tub. It’s chill during the day but at night gets rowdy as the dice start to get tossed. The dice game is an intense drinking game where each person rolls a dice and the person with the lowest number has to buy everyone a round of shots.
Yes, it’s a party hostel.
There are also three adorable dogs that live at Zephyr Lodge which made me super happy.
If you don’t want to stay at Zephyr Lodge, there are other options in Lanquin. Utopia Eco Hostel offers both private and shared bedrooms on an eco-friendly farm. If you want to stay right on the river, Hotel Oasis is a luxury jungle resort, with a pool, bar, restaurant, and tiki-style rooms.
How to explore Semuc Champey
As Semuc Champey is only accesible by 4×4, you need to arrange for a guided tour from the area. Most hostels have a tour that they run from there to Semuc Champey. Zephyr Lodge offers an all day adventure tour there for 175 Quetzales (30$) which was super fun.
Zephyr Lodge is about 10KM from the entrance of Semuc Champey, although it feels like much longer because you are in the back of a truck with 15 other people bumping around trying not to fall off.
You start the tour caving by candlelight which is some of the best caving I’ve ever done. In parts of the cave you will be almost completely submerged by water. At the end there is a section where you can jump from a ledge into the water.
After caving you have the option to jump off a rope swing into the river just outside the cave and explore a nearby waterfall. So much adventure!
After all the jumping fun you stop for lunch which you can buy there. You can also order sandwiches to go from the lodge but they were pretty disappointing. Following lunch you do a small hike to a viewpoint of the pools. Although small, the hike felt brutal as it’s just straight up a set of stairs for about 45 minutes, and you’re in a humid jungle. But the views are worth it, and then you get to cool off in the pools!
It’s much easier going down the stairs, and then you spend the rest of the afternoon exploring and swimming in the stunning turquoise pools. You can slide/jump from one pool to the next, and the water is lovely to swim in. I kept looking around me while swimming and just couldn’t believe just how magical the area was. Aside from the perfect turquoise pools, the area is covered in beautiful and colorful fauna. I love nature so much!
Other things to do in Laquin
It’s a long way to come but Semuc Champey is one of the most beautiful sights in Guatemala. Might as well make the distance worth it and explore more of the area!
Zephyr Lodge offers another tour to go tubing at the river nearby the lodge. It’s so much fun.
The tour normally leaves from the lodge at 11 in the morning each time but since everyone who wanted to go stayed up way to late the night before and slept in, we left at 1 instead. The scenery while you’re tubing is beautiful, as you float down the river passing through the jungle full of wild birds. We even saw parrots!
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The river is calm at first and then picks up at the end. Major shout out to the guy who attached me to his tube so I stopped getting stuck in the trees.The guides even bring beer down the river so you can refill as you float! This tour is a great way to spend in afternoon in Lanquin.
Visit the town of Laquin
The town of Laquin is small but you can visit it for something to do. There are a few tiendas (convenient store) if you need to pick up anything up, and one ATM.
Aside from the tours I spent most of my time at the lodge and honestly could have spent more, it is a lovely place to be. Visting Zephyr Lodge is an experience in itself.
Where to go after Semuc Champey, Guatemala
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