Semuc Champey

7th – 9th of December 2013

Semuc Champey – probably my personal highlight in Central America. As I have mentioned in other articles before (Somoto Canyon and Parque Nacional El Imposible), I am a big fan of adventure stuff like jumping off cliffs, going into caves and generally those kinds of things. So a stop in Semuc Champey was obligatory. Unfortunately Semuc is a bit out of the way from pretty much anywhere which is why it requires an eight hours bus ride to get there – which judging by Central American standards is huge. But it is well worth it.

The tour (which I booked through the hostel I stayed at) takes you to a river cave as well as the limestone pools and it cost GTQ 175 / 16,67 € pp including the transport, guides and the admission to the cave as well as the pools.

After a bumpy 40 minutes ride standing in the back of a pickup truck with a whole bunch of people we reached the cave first. Initially I didn’t even know that this was going to be part of the tour and I didn’t really know what to expect at first. Once we headed into the cave equipped with only a swimsuit, a helmet and some candles it became clear very fast that this was going to be just my kind of activity. The cave goes quite deep into the mountain and is flooded by a river for the most part which is why you have to swim a lot – watch out for sharp rocks underneath the water surface! Half way into the cave we got to a small waterfall which we were allowed to climb up if we wanted to. Who doesn’t? Eventually we reached a small cliff inside the cave that of which we jumped off. Although this wasn’t even remotely the end of the cave, it was sadly the turnaround point of our tour – needless to say that I would’ve loved to explore a bit more. Unfortunately taking pictures inside the cave was a bit difficult since the water particles in the air reflected the flash and rendered most of the pictures useless.

After the cave we headed to a big swing into a river. Doesn’t sound too spectacular at first but it really isn’t that easy to jump off one of those since you’re seated and not standing which makes controlling the takeoff and fall a lot more difficult. But at least that gave us the opportunity to witness some hilarious belly flop action. I sure enough enjoyed myself.

The next stop was a rusty old bridge with wooden planks of which we (or at least the ones that dared to) jumped into the river. Again, it doesn’t sound too crazy at first since it was only about 10m high but it was quite entertaining to see some of those people jump and bail because they had never done something like that before. Respect for trying though, it definitely left some of them with some bruises for the next couple of days. Wear them proudly with your head held high! 🙂

Arguably the highlights of the tour are, of course, the limestone terraces themselves. From the viewpoint it seems like the river flows into the pools and back out on the other end. Once we actually reached them it became clear that the river plummets into a big, dark hole and continues underground until the end of the terraces where it surfaces again. I wonder if anyone was ever dumb enough to try and swim underneath them. The pools themselves are filled with crystal clear water which has an incredible blue color on a sunny day. And even though we unfortunately had an overcast day it was still possible to imagine how magnificent those pools are on a sunny, warm day. Apart from some fun little jumps off trees and a couple of rock-waterslides my personal highlight of the day was at the end of the pools. The guides must have been of the opinion that we were a good group which is why they gave the ones that wanted to the opportunity to jump off the last pool and into the river surfacing below – a daring 15m jump into raging waters with a steep climb back up onto the pool at the end. From what I had heard this was not a regular part of the tour which is why I was even happier that it was part of ours. I only wish we could have jumped more than once. 🙂

Every activity itself – the cave, the swing, the bridge and the pools – was incredibly fun. But all of those activities packed into a one day tour turned it into my favorite Central American activity. When visiting Guatemala, this should definitely be on the list of things to do. Even though it is a bit remote and can be a pain to reach, especially in rainy weather.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: