From 9AM pick up and drop off at the hostel, 190QZ booking through El Muro hostel . You may ask if this will be a big group of people or just a few, because it does make a difference. We did it only 4 of us and our tour guide Pepe was the best! He brought us to off the beaten tracks places that no other tourists have seen. It made the trip even more Indiana Jones!
What to pack
- Hiking boots - Flip flops - Swimsuit - Towel - Lock - Camera and/or go pro
Kids at the entrance of the tour will try to sell you chocolate. They will also ask for your name that they will write down. At each stage of the tour you may see them again and they will have remembered you looking at their notes. Their selling strategy is actually working as all of us were falling for them and the fact that they had a personal message for each one of us. One chocolate is 5QZ so if you want to make their day you might as well buy one. The rest of the kids tribe also have beers to offer for the ride, 15QZ. At the end of the days, this is when sales kick in, chocolate is now 2x1 and beers are only 10QZ!
The ride from the hostel in Lanquin to Semuc Champey is less than 10kms however it is in the mountains on gravel road so count about 45 minutes. In the back of the truck you’ll be standing and sharing the ride with locals who came down to Lanquin to buy groceries and are heading back home in the middle of nowhere in the mountains / jungle. Always a smile upon their face the kids you’ll encounter on the way will wave at you and are super cheerful to see some tourists passing by their house. At one shop, the driver will stop to buy candles…you will soon understand why!
At the entrance of the tour you will be told you drop all your stuff besides your bikini and hiking boots. The rest stays with one guy who locks your stuff up in the little hut. Pepe your guide, will light one candle for each one of you. No flash light, just one candle you will carry along the discovery. Whilst Pepe is preparing the trail lighting other candles further down he will also paint your face with the wax. As creative as he wants depending on his inspiration and your personality you may end looking like a cat, a warrior or having a heart on your forehead! Let the adventure begin!
During the trail, you will be swimming, sliding, jumping, climbing, always with one candle in hand. Your other hand should be free to swim or get hold of the rope or the rocks around you. If you want to record this all with a gopro we advise it is already attached to your head or wrist so that you still have one hand free. The whole cave exploration is dark unless you have the candles, Pepe will make fun of you by scaring you with weird noise but don’t worry you’re in safe hands, he knows what he is doing and is super athletic jumping here and there like a little monkey!
Before you get to swim or river tube, there is a big swing for you to jump in the river. Listen carefully to the advice of the guide: lean back, enjoy and jump. There is no come back, once you’re on the swim you have to jump!! Try to stay still so that you don’t land on your back or on your stomach!
Waterfalls & Swim
The second part of the tour includes swimming in the river. You will be reaching the beginning of the river by foot, with a beer on hand (entirely up to you but well deserved after the cave exploration!). For 15 minutes you will enjoy swimming in the river, the waterfalls from above (Semuc Champey pools) are dropping hot water whilst the river is cold. You can also climb the waterfalls rocks and jump from there!
River Tubing (with a beer!)
Not only you will be told how to approach the currents in the river with your swim ring but also you will learn how to do it with a beer! Stick it in between your knees to have both hand frees when needed to go right or left and avoid the rocks! For a good 5 minutes you will be going down without any effort and enjoy the view thanks to the river currents.
Starving? Yes I bet! Well good thing is you will refuel yourself with delicious all you can eat Guatemalan traditional food. Veggies such as Broccoli, Beetroots, Guacamole, Rice, Noodles, Tortillas, Chicken, Porc, Spicy sauces and some more for only 50QZ. They also water, soft drinks and beers available upon request.
No time for food coma, you know need to put these hiking shoes on for an hour trek to the top of Semuc Champey. Bring water with you as it is quite an excercise, it goes really up and stiff but so much worth it once you’ve reached the view point of Semuc Champey pools. Group photos and little rest are welcome there for a quick stop before the next reward: swimming in these pools.
El Mirador (1-hour swim in the pools)
Going down now to the pools, you’ll have a good hour to enjoy the different pools of Semuc Champey, jump, slide, chill. Anything you want but make sure to enjoy yourself as this is the last part of the tour.
After you come back, hit straight to the bar for a shot of rum and a caipirinha with the view over the valley in the hammocks. When comes 8pm, head to Shamol restaurant and ask for the menu of the day for only 20QZ. We recommend also their vegetarian burritos with extra guacamole for 30QZ or the traditional Guatemalan dish with scrambled eggs with tomato (huevos revueltos con tomate), cheese (queso), beans (frijoles) and plantain (plaintain). Also comes with tortillas indeed!