Guatemala – visiting Semuc Champey and Rio Dulce
Semuc champey is right in the center of Guatemala, very hard to get there but sold by everyone as one of the best places to see in the country.
After the days in western part of Guatemala we got on an 8-hour bus across the country to reach Lanquín, a small village in the middle of the mountains and the pit stop to go to the natural pools of Semuc Champey.
The bus ride was something close to hell. 2 hours of traffic and 5 hours at 20 km/h in a winy bumpy road with no pavement, sitting in the worst possible seat impossible to lean back, the heat melting your bones and no air con. Longest bus ride I’ve ever had.
Once we finally got there, everything got better. The Hostel was amazing, on top of a cliff in-between mountains, with nothing but jungle surrounding us and a huge infinity pool – all of this for 7€ a night (!)
We spent the next day in Semuc Champey. We went inside the caves, swimming in the dark water and jumping through small holes in the rocks, while holding a candle to be able to see. Really cool. And then outside, we jumped from the top of the waterfall, did the tubing sitting on the floating donut and replaced the candle we had on our hands for a beer. A few of them.
And then finally we got to the famous pools. It’s like a river going steep down the mountain where there’s not so much water and therefore it forms huge steps, each one like a natural swimming pool with amazing blue water. Absolutely beautiful. When I saw it, I knew why we had to take that awful bus ride.
Next stop was Livingston, the fishermen’s village by the sea where people get the boat to cross over to Belize. To get there you either go by bus or by boat through Rio Dulce. We did the boat ride in the hopes of seeing a manati, allegedly they are very easy to spot in Rio Dulce.
We didn’t see any and I doubt you can see them, but going by boat was still a very good decision. We went though the lake (a huge lake!) where there are hundreds of super fancy private houses by the water with their own dock and a sailing boat. That place is for sure where all the rich people in Guatemala have their holiday house. Or foreigners, I don’t know. But fact is, we saw a completely different Guatemala that day. Still amazing, though.
Livingston is weird. It’s pretty but super simple, just a place to spend the night before going to Belize. Mostly tourists and locals that you really don’t understand where they’re from exactly. Much darker than the rest of Guatemala, no traditional clothes anymore and a big mix of Spanish and English. But you know you’re still in the country when people start being incredibly nice and helpful to you, and give you frijoles for breakfast!
The next post we’ll be about Belize and Tikal.