Located between Lake Atitlán and Flores is Semuc Champey, which means river under the rocks. The river consists mainly of clear blue and turquoise pools of water where you can swim, hike and tub. There are also several caves in the area that can be visited.
The port of call for Semuc Champey is Lanquín. A small village with a few ho(s)tels and restaurants and about 10 km from Semuc Champey National Park. Here you will also find an ATM. If you want to stay closer to the national park, several hotels can be found on the way there. Do keep in mind that you are further away from restaurants. Often the hotels have their own bar/restaurant. A 2 or 3 night stay is sufficient for Semuc Champey and the surrounding area. Several tours and activities are offered from the hotels or Lanquín. Often it is a combination of the water pools, tubing down the river and/or visiting the caves.
You can also visit the park on your own without a tour. The park is open from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. It can heat up quickly in this area, so it is recommended to go early in the morning to get a little ahead of the heat. Once at the park, you pay Q50/€6.20 entrance fee and it is recommended to walk to the lookout point first and then down to the pools to cool off. The path is clearly marked. Keep in mind that the hike can be quite steep, slippery and muddy if it has rained. Despite the tough stretches, it is well worth the effort as the views are stunning. Once at the pools, you can swim. There are areas with restrooms and changing booths, and guards are posted in several areas to maintain security. A dip in the clear water is very refreshing and the surroundings are beautiful. There is also a chance to spot animals such as different types of birds or monkeys while hiking.
How do you get there and back?
From Lanquín, you can join a pickup that leaves about every 30 minutes and costs Q25/€3.10 per person (one way). It is a bumpy road where you sit in the back of the pickup truck, but the route is very beautiful. For the return trip, there is often a pickup waiting at the entrance/exit to take you back to Lanquín. The last pickup goes around 4:00/16:30 pm, but it is good to check with us upon arrival. Semuc Champey is relatively difficult to reach, but worth the detour. From Lake Atitlán and Flores, shuttles go to Lanquín, via Cobán. From either side the journey takes between 6 – 8 hours as the roads are not very good and partly unpaved. Different agencies offer the shuttle service for different prices. Compare and negotiate locally(Lake Atitlán or Flores).