Lounge and swim in the shallow waters of the pools, or venture off for further exploration. Take a slippery rock path that leads to Río Cahabón, the river that feeds the pools. Be careful in this area as the fast-flowing river gets lost in the underground caves, an area called “El Sumidero.” If you’re up for a bigger adventure, and are in good shape with excellent footwear, head up a pretty steep, slippery trail to the mirador for a gorgeous view high above the pools. For this leg, it’s best to go with a guide. Most day trips to Semuc Champey leave from Cobán or San Agustin Lanquin and include a trip to the nearby Lanquín Caves. Since the region is quite remote, multi-day tours make sense, as you’ll have the time to take in the highlights. From Antigua, trek to the alpine town of Cobán to spot quetzal and rare orchids in El Biotopo del Quetzal forest.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Semuc Champey is an ideal spot for nature lovers.
- Although there are security guards present, it is recommended not to leave belongings unattended.
- Bring swimwear and a towel, and hiking shoes with treads for hiking on slippery rocks.
- Remember water for hydration and a snack.
How to Get There
Semuc Champey is located near the town of Lanquín in the remote Alta Verapaz area of Guatemala, about 45 miles (73 kilometers) from Cobán and about a 6-hour drive from Antigua. Expect about 2.5 hours on the road. Most travelers take an organized tour to Semuc Champey, as this prevents you from having to wait for infrequent public transportation and driving on roads with many twists and turns that can be dangerous at night in the dark.
When to Get There
The pools are open daily, from morning to evening. Come early in the morning to avoid crowds. Peak season in this area runs from November to April, which coincides with the dry season. Come in the spring during religious Semana Santa holiday to see Antiqua and the surrounding area at its most lively.
About 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) north of Semuc Champey is another gorgeous limestone natural wonder, the Lanquín Caves. Still considered sacred to the Mayan people, the caves are believed to be the "heart of heaven". Take the time to wander the various chambers and limestone formations, and be sure to be there at dusk, as thousands of bats leave the caverns and make for the darkening sky.
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- Lanquín Caves (Grutas de Lanquín)
- Biotopo del Quetzal
- Mixco Viejo
- Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)
- Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)
- Iglesia de Santo Domingo
- Popol Vuh Museum (Museo Popol Vuh)
- Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)
- National Palace
- La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)
- National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (MUNAE)
- IRTRA Mundo Petapa
- Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)
- Casa Santo Domingo (Monasterio de Santo Domingo)