Semuc Champey Natural Monument
published jul 18th, 2015
Semuc Champey is a natural monument in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz. Lanquín’s accessibility issues (no paved roads) don’t prevent it from being a favorite destination among national tourists and backpackers. If you’ve scheduled a shuttle to Lanquín, you’re certainly in for a long rocky ride. It is, of course, worth every bump.
Semuc Champey in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz
Check out this brief video for a quick look at the Lanquín area.
Semuc Champey: what is it?
The Semuc Champey monument consists of a natural limestone bridge some 300 meters long. The Cahabón river flows beneath the bridge, and a series of stepped, slow moving pools flow along its surface. The pools are famous for their coloration, which is often a bright, beautiful turquoise. The pools’ coloration does vary depending on season and rainfall, but is virtually always remarkable.
Guests can enjoy swimming and lounging in beautiful surroundings, and a challenging but short hike to a viewpoint.
The park is a fairly large property. It grants access to most of the natural pools as well as a hiking trail to a nearby viewpoint (mirador) from which visitors can take in the whole spectacle at a glance.
There are bathrooms, changing rooms and plenty of lounging space available throughout the park. Shade is ample. Local women often sell snacks and drinks throughout the park, and street food kiosks are setup outside the park during breakfast, lunch and late afternoon.
Semuc Champey pools in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz
The Semuc Champey park is around four miles from Lanquín. The route is a clearly marked gravel road. Tours visit the park daily from every surrounding hostel. Tours begin arriving at the park around 10:00 AM, which means do-it-yourselfers can beat the crowd by going solo - the park is open from 8:00 AM.
Access to the park costs Q50. Most package tours from surrounding hostels include about two hours at the park plus a cave tour and river tubing. The cave tours and river tubing are both super fun, but a few hours at the park is hardly more than a “been there, done that.” You may want to plan a second day to really soak in Semuc Champey.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hostels in Lanquín as well as closer to Semuc Champey itself. El Portal is located right next to the park. Utopia Eco Hotel is about a forty-minute, beautiful hike from the park and boasts one of the best atmospheres of Lanquín area hostels — community dinners, occasional live music, river swimming, big collection of movies and plenty of comfy communal spaces.
Take a look at the full list of hostels in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz for more information.