Semuc Champey is often regarded as the finest natural attraction in Guatemala. It did not disappoint. I swam in the pools, floated down the river, visited a cave and watched indigenous people make chocolate.
The Rio Cahabon flows through limestone and creates an underground tunnel. Above is a natural bridge containing numerous turquoise, crystal-clear pools. A gushing waterfall and birds-eye viewpoint complete the magic. The pools are ideal for swimming; I spent many hours there. Below the waterfall, you can tube down the river through the rapids.
Las Gruatas de Marias was a wild cave experience. An underground river flows through the cave and in general you must wade in the water. The guide equipped us with candles. In many sections, the deep pools require swimming with one hand while holding the candle in the other. We finished cold, dirty and pumping with adrenalin.
Getting There — Nine of us shared a shuttle from Pana to Coban. We took the route through Chichicastenango, Sacapulus and Uspantan. We had wonderful views but had several long delays from construction work. Also at one point, a security patrol followed our van to provide protection. We took a public bus from Coban to Lanquin and then on to Semuc Champey.
Lodging — We stayed the first night at Las Marias. Our room was simple and clean. There were lots of guests. In the morning, we moved to El Portal. It is on the hill with a view and a breeze; it is very near the entrance to Semuc Champey. The restaurant is good and the service friendly. There is only one electrical outlet for the entire hotel.