Semuc Champey, in the middle of Guatemala is a place not to be missed. It is located in a valley with steep forest clad walls overlooking several natural crystalline spring water pools. There is a natural limestone bridge below which there is a 40ft waterfall flowing into the Cahabon river. As if thats not enough to keep you entertained, the river also flows through caves, which you can enter at your own risk!
And aside from the beautiful scenery, taking risks seemed to be very much what Semuc Champey was all about. But that was largely because we were on a tour and us Gringos need some adventure along with the nice views, it seems!
The day long tour left Lanquin (a town 10Km or so down the road), consisted of three guides and started with a plop into the Cahabon river. A rope swing had been fixed to the trees on the river bed, and who can't resist swinging out over river, doing a summersault and dropping into the fast current? Well, I couldn't anyway!
Then, we were led into the caves, armed with nothing but candles. Yes, there were no headlamps provided here. You were expected to wade and at times swim deep into the dark cave and keep your candle lit. I felt like the Statue of Liberty! We climbed up ladders, over rocks and then came to a gushing waterfall. There were two options; take the ladder to the left or climb up through the waterfall on a knotted rope. Feeling in an adventurous mood, I took the rope option and was faced with a powerful torrent of water battering my face as I climbed up. And refreshing it was too!
Next we came to a dark corner of the cave where we discovered the thing being encouraged was climbing up the rocks on the side and jumping off into a (hopefully) deep pool of water. All this practically in the dark too! It had to be done though. What company would let their customers do this in Europe or come to think of it, most places in the world? Another reason it had to be done. Take that, health and safety brigade!
Our group consisted of at least 30 or so tourists, and to their credit, the guides shepherded us all around with ease. For the most part, being in such a big group was neither annoying or slow going.
We made it out of the cave, and with a taste for jumping off things, went to the 40 ft waterfall. In order to jump off it, you had to swim across some seriously strong currents and climb a rock face. Though this time the risk had been slightly mitigated as there was a rope pulled across to grab on to, lest you get swept away down the rapids!
Enough of the adrenaline filled stuff, next was a leisurely float down the river on a rubber tube. Its the best way to move on water, surely.
Rounding off the day was a hike up to the viewpoint over the spring water pools, before hike back down to have a swim in them. I'm sure it gets much better than that!
Country Notes and Tales From Travellers
10 months ago