Hidden in the centre of Guatemala are the incredible rock pools of Semuc Champey. Here’s what you should know before you make the trip.
Make your own way if you’re on a budget
You don’t need to book an all-inclusive tour from Antigua or Guatemala City. Save money by booking your own shuttle transfer, accommodation, and transport from Lanquin.
Don’t buy the box lunch
Many hostels offer box lunches to take with you on your day trip, but it’s not necessary to buy them. Save money by getting lunch from the vendors outside the park entrance. Guatemalan staples are sold here at bargain prices.
Get into all of the different pools
Walk to the furthest end of the park to see the waterfalls and then work your way back through the pools. You can jump from one to the other and walk back up to get your stuff afterwards.
Remember to climb to the viewpoint
It might seem like a lot of effort in the jungle heat, but making the climb to the viewpoint is essential. From here you can take amazing photos looking down over the rock pools.
Visit the caves
It’s worth paying the entrance fee to the caves, which you can explore by candlelight. There are subterranean waterfalls and pools to explore, and it’s great fun.
Jump off the bridge
Just before the entrance to the park you will cross a bridge over the river, where local kids can often be seen plunging into the water below. It’s not for those with a fear of heights, but it’s a real adrenaline rush if you can stomach it.
There are lots of hostels available
It’s a long way from any other tourist destination
Before you plan a trip, remember that Semuc Champey can only be accessed by dirt roads. It takes around 8 hours to drive from Antigua in a minibus. Make sure you have enough time to warrant two travel days for a return journey.
Avoid national holidays
If at all possible, try to visit Semuc Champey outside of national holidays. Semana Santa is particularly bad, when crowds of people ruin the tranquil atmosphere that makes the pools such a joy to explore.
Protesters have shut down the park before
It’s worth checking before you make the long drive to the area because there have been problems with protesters in the past. Make sure you will be able to get in before you set off on the journey!