Semuc Champey offers stunning natural water pools embedded in an idyllic valley and surrounded by lush green nature and tropical forest in the Alta Verapaz department. The place is considered as one of the most beautiful spots in Guatemala. However, it is not yet a very frequented by tourists, which may be due to its off-road location and rather difficult accessibility. A badly equipped dirt road leads the 11 kilometers from the city Lanquín to Semuc Champey. As a result, Semuc Champey has mostly remained untouched and conserves the atmosphere of a secret spot. In 1999, Semuc Champey was declared a natural monument.
Semuc Champey is not that easy to reach, but is it worthwhile to take some time and visit this spectacular place. Semuc Champey is famous for its 300 meter long limestone bridge. Along this bridge you can find various natural water pools, being between one to four meters deep. Their crystal clear water shines from turquoise over light blue to emerald green and invites for a refreshing bath. The colour of the pools varies depending of the time of the year, the time of the day and the current weather situation. Small waterfalls connect the pools, which are filled by the water of the river Río Cahabón. The pools form a bridge above the river, so the river actually passes through a cave beneath these pools. At the beginning of the lime stone bridge (called “Sumidero”), “the water hides under the rocks”. This is what Semuc Champey means in Q’eqchi language.
Apart from swimming, you should not miss to walk up to the mirador (viewpoint) from where you will have a spectacular view over the whole river with the blue pools. It is an exhausting climb, sometimes you need the help of small branches and tree roots, but is is worth the effort. Closer to the entrance is another view point, where the river re-emerges from the cave and forms a beautiful and impressive waterfall. Close to Semuc Champey you can also find the cave system Grutas K’anba. Most hostels offer tours combining a visit to the pools in Semuc Champey and the caves. The latter is a two hour tour through the dark caves, guided only by the gleam of candles. It is advised to bring only waterproof electronic devices with you, as it is wet inside the cave. You should not be afraid to jump into the cold water inside the pitch black cave. The tour ends with river tubing on the Cahabón river.
The best way to get there is by shuttle from Lanquín or Cobán. Most hostel in this area also offer daily tours to Semuc Champey. If you go with your own car, you will need a four-wheel drive for the dirt road.