Central America 2010

Photos from Semuc Champey – The Gem of Guatemala

A few days ago I almost decided not to make the trip to Lanquin to see Semuc Champey. That would have been my worst decision of this trip and I am sincerely glad that I decided to make the trip! Semuc Champey was easily the most beautiful place I have seen duting my time here in Central America, and possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I know I’ve said something similar to this a couple times throughout the past few weeks but Semuc Champey tops it all as far as natural beauty goes. I guess I just saved the best for last.

Natural wonders of the world have always amazed me, and Semuc Champey did nothing short of this. Semuc is a natural limestone bridge that covers a portion of the Cahabon River. The river dives underneath this stretch of limestone and comes out of the opposite side in a furry of rapids. Some of the water escapes the trip underneath and makes its way over the bridge itself, creating multiple pools of water that cascade down the bridge and eventually back into the Cahabon.

Honestly, the best way to explain this phenomenon is by simply showing you the same display that we were shown upon entering the park. If you want you can probably translate that into an even more informative display but you get the picture.

People visiting Semuc can get an up close look by walking over the bridge and even taking a swim in the many pools of water. A lot of the pools are deep enough to actually dive into. A group of us started in the top pools of the bridge and slowly made our way all the way down to the bottom pools, taking time to jump off a number of the small waterfalls the bridge creates.

  • One of the many falls created by the limestone bridge.
  • The cascading falls of Semuc Champey.
  • Walking the first part of the limestone bridge.
  • One of the many pools on Semuc Champey.
  • The trails overlooking part of the limestone bridge.
  • We were able to jump from one pool to another, some of the pools were even deep enough to dive into.

On top of this experience many people also do tours of the surrounding river and a cave with an underwater river. These tours add, exponentially, to the allure of the area and we had the opportunity to tube down the river and also climb, and swim, through the caves and the underground river. I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the cave experience since it involved a lot of water but basically each person was given a candle and we were led into a dark cavern where we then had to swim, sometimes decent lengths, until we reached the back of the cavern and an underground waterfall. It was a bit intimidating but an amazing experience to look back on.

  1. Caroline

    Cool! Great photos that explained this area better than anything I have seen before.

    Ok, it’s on my list for a must-do when I get back to Guatemala.

    1. Matt

      That was my goal! Before I got there I just thought it was waterfalls but it is actually quite impressive what nature has done there. It should be on everyone’s must-do list for Guatemala.

  2. ayngelina

    It was definitely a highlight for me as well. People really seem to downplay it but saying its a great place to swim but it’s so much more amazing than that.

    1. Matt

      I would go as far as saying it is one of the best places to swim!! But seriously, a truly amazing experience that everyone traveling through the area should have.

  3. Elaine

    Hey, Great blog! I’m looking to travel through central america this summer and was wondering what you did with all your valuables when you went on trips like this. Importantly, how did you carry your passport and money when swimming through water? Also, how did you choose to carry money throughout your trip. Did you bring it all at once, or did you use ATM’s sporatically?


    1. Matt

      Hi! First off, thanks for reading, and for the kinds words. Second, you are going to LOVE Central America. As far as valuables go, just bring the basics. I do travel with a laptop, iphone and SLR camera, and I keep them in a locked room, locker, or I use the Pacsafe55 (check Amazon). As for my passport and money I just us a money belt and when I go swimming I either leave it locked in a room somewhere or a locker if I have one. I have left it on the shore while I’m swimming which isn’t the safest thing in the world. As for bringing money, I rarely carry much money on me unless I know I’m going somewhere without an ATM. I use an ATM sometimes once every 2 or 3 days if I need to. I do, however, have a debit card from Charles Schwab that repays ALL of my ATM fees. So I use ATMs for free everywhere in the world. I highly recommend checking them out! Feel free to message me on the contact page for any other information!

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