Thursday, March 29, 2012

Semuc Champey: paradise

Friends of mine are travelling to Guatemala this month, and after my insisting they visit Semuc Champey, I've promised to blog well enough to convince them to listen to me.

Semuc Champey is unlike anything I've ever seen before on this earth. You drive on remote Guatemalan side roads and arrive in Lanquin, a tiny Guatemalan town situated in the thick jungle of the highlands. And just a short drive from Lanquin, up some winding roads and past indigenous farmland, hidden amongst the jungle vines and in a deep valley, is this turquoise-blue waterfall paradise that doesn't seem like it could possibly exist.

The entry of the river that flows beneath the limestone
bridge that is Semuc Champey.
Semuc is a series of pools and waterfalls created by karst topography - mainly over thousands of years limestone has eroded away and left these incredible pools. A river flows beneath them, and the pools are spring-fed, making the water the clearest aqua blue you could ever imagine. You jump from pool to pool. It's paradise.

And there's the cave adventures too. After the pools, a Guatemalan man (no more than 18 years old) hands us candle sticks and leads us to the top of a waterfall, where we head into a deep cave. With nothing but candles (and headlamps, for those who brought them) he leads us directly into the cave, where rushing water pours out. There's a waterfall within the cave that you walk underneath, and for the more daring, a small cliff jump into a deep pool before turning around and heading back out.

Semuc Champey is understatedly the most incredible place I have ever had the pleasure of seeing in my life. That is why, Leah-Rose and Rachel, you must visit it during your four weeks in Guatemala.

Stay at El Retiro Hostel, where they feed you dinner each night and you rest in a tiny thatch-roofed hut (you may have to kill a few cockroaches here and there), and soak in all things Guatemala.

The hut we stayed in at El Retiro Lodge, and my and two
friends from Vancouver, who ironically met up with us in
Semuc Champey.

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