• Home
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Print
  • Art
  • Photos
  • Live
  • Features
  • About
  • Sale
  • Instagram
  •  

    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Guatemala Part 14

    Thursday, September 14, 2017
    Semuc Champey, Guatemala

    Ascending stone steps at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Ascending stone steps at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    A towering wooden staircase at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    A towering wooden staircase at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Right after I finished breakfast at 8:45 am, the manager of the Hostal Oasis informed me that the pick-up truck to Semuc Champey would be leaving at 9:00 am. So, I ran up to my hut to frantically pack up a few supplies in a plastic bag. As I was walking back down the hill a minute or two after 9:00, I saw the pick-up truck driving away. Seriously. Like he couldn’t wait an extra minute or two. I ended up catching a ride in the back of another pick-up truck that was delivering some supplies like food, drinks and cinder blocks from the Hostal Oasis to the Hostal El Portal near the entrance to Semuc Champey.

    A vendor in the middle of the jungle at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    A vendor in the middle of the jungle at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Ascending steep rock steps at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Ascending steep rock steps at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Standing and grabbing onto the metal rack on the back of the truck, it was a literal white knuckle ride on an ultra bumpy, rough dirt and gravel road that proceeded up and down steep hills and winding, hairpin curves for seven miles. Finally reaching our destination, I got dumped out at Hostal El Portal, where I joined a Euro couple and our guide. A short while later, after I slathered on some sunblock, we walked through the entry of the Semuc Champey wilderness area.

    An overview of the overlook at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    An overview of the overlook at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    The stunning gorge cut by the Cahabón river at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    The stunning gorge cut by the Cahabón river at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Not long after, we began the ascent up a very high ridge via stone steps embedded in dirt, rutted out trails, wooden staircases, tree root ladders, etc. The whole way, every rock, stick, root and the muddy ground itself was slippery as heck, making us walk somewhat more slowly and carefully than if it was dry. It was so hot and humid, the sweat was really flowing. Several times on the way up, we passed ladies selling coconuts and other fruits and drinks out in the middle of nowhere in the jungle.

    Looking back at the crew behind the observation deck at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Looking back at the crew behind the observation deck at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    A close-up of the emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    A close-up of the emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    After around 45 minutes, we finally reached the viewing platform that overlooks the swimming holes of Semuc Champey far down below. Already present was a large group of Guatemalan tourists posing for photos on the deck. After a short while, they finished up and it was our turn to take a gander. Many people consider Semuc Champey the most beautiful place in all of Guatemala. So, needless to say, the view far down below was absolutely magnificent and stunning. Greeting the viewer is a huge canyon completely covered with bright green jungle, cut through by the glowing blue waters of the Cahabón river, which flows through emerald pools framed by bright yellow moss-covered rocks.

    The observation deck at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    The observation deck at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    The trail branches off at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    The trail branches off at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    After a short while, we bid farewell to the grand view and headed back down the river side of the ridge. Our first stop was at a huge crevice, where the loudly rushing water flowed quickly into a cave underground. Next, we made our way over to the peaceful emerald pools for a dip in the water. Luckily, we got to put our stuff in a wooden locker, where the guide kept an eye on them. Most people swam, but I just waded for a bit and shot some photos of yet another paradise on Earth. Being absorbed by this magical place made me yearn for the distant past before humans evolved, when the whole Earth was a paradise.

    Descending steep stairs at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Descending steep stairs at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Ascending prehistoric stairs at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Ascending prehistoric stairs at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Next, we stopped by some falls that were not very tall. But what they lacked in height, they made up for in a monstrously loud sound. In fact, they were so loud, I had to wear earplugs! After exiting Semuc Champey, we walked back to the Hostal El Portal to eat lunch. The next and final stop of the day was a cave that required some swimming to get through. I told the guide that no one had informed me about the swimming part, and that I was going to opt out of that portion of the trip.

    Rushing water entering a cave at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Rushing water entering a cave at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    The emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    The emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    A guy who worked at the hostel said I could take a pick-up truck back to the Hostal Oasis and someone there would give me a tour of the Lanquin caves, which required no swimming. I took him up on that offer and climbed in the back of a pick-up with a bunch of other Guatemalans for another grueling, hour-long, rough, bumpy, jarring hell ride back to Lanquin.

    Bathers in the emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Bathers in the emerald pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    A possible paradise at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    A possible paradise at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    When we arrived there, I asked the driver if he was going to take me all the way to the Hostel Oasis, but he said no. I figured as much. So, after getting directions from a local, I just walked the remaining half mile. I asked the manager of the hostel about the tour of the Lanquin caves, but he said it was too late in the day. Instead, he offered me a refund of 50 quetzals out of the 175 I paid for the whole day’s tour, which I thought was really fair and nice of him. What a pleasant ending to an awesome day!

    Roots music at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
    Roots music at Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *