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Tag Archives: Alta Verapaz

Semuc-Champey

Located near Lanquin, Semuc Champey is a natural water wonder consisting of several limestone pool formations along the Cahabon river. The pools are filled with turquoise water and form little waterfalls as each pool is above the next.

Semuc Champey: Pools

We opted for a tour of Semuc Champey which also included the Lanquin caves, we had wanted to go with the bus but it was difficult to get information on how to get there exactly.

The town of Lanquin is located an hour’s drive on unpaved tracks from the main road and seems to be the last place for provisions before you get to Semuc Champey, which is then another 30 minutes away.

Semuc Champey reminded us of a smaller version of Agua Azul in Mexico. In fact the pools are a total of only 300m compared to the 7km of Agua Azul.

Semuc Champey: Waterfall

But what makes them different is the very fact that they are so close together, allowing you to easily go from one pool to the next.

Semuc Champey: Main pool

The area also feels very secure and there are both security guards and life guards.

After Semuc Champey we taken to the Lanquin caves for a quick tour. Although highly impressive in terms of rock formations and the fact that the caves are still used as a Mayan church with animal sacrifices, the slippery surfaces and lack of proper handrails throughout make it a beautiful yet dangerous place to go.

Lanquin cave: Jaguar altar

Even with our Vibram soles we were struggling to walk across the wet rocks without sliding, the only saving grace was the fact they had added electricity to the caves so you didn’t need to worry about using one had for the torch and only one for your hanging on.

The caves are also covered with bat excrement as there are thousands who reside there so ensure you take wipes as your hands at the very least will be filthy by the end.

When you are able to stand still and look around, the caves are spectacular, the numerous altars, now black with years of candle smoke are unlike anything I have seen and the knowledge that they are still in use does bring a certain awe to them.

Lanquin: Mayan altar

If you have the chance to do the combined tour I would recommend it, just be very careful and ensure you go prepared!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Coban

Prior to discovering just how far apart places are in Guatemala we had planned to travel through the mountains to Coban and then head west towards Huehuetenango with the intention of heading to Todos Santos.

This would have allowed us to take in the beautiful mountain scenery of the Alta Verapaz region, and give us a little respite from the heat.

That was before our 5 hour (yet only 197km) journey in a small packed shuttle van, being sped along winding roads at break neck speed, all the while having the speakers blaring at full volume – for the full 5 hours…

We decided there and then that we would have to amend our plans.

We arrived in Coban a little after 6pm with no idea as to our whereabouts in the town and with no idea of where to stay.

We were approached and eventually persuaded by a hotel owner to go to his place, partly due to it being already dark and partly due to the price being cheap.

The hotel (Hotel Ecologico) turned out to be a small place with concrete blocks as rooms, we stayed the night but as there was no hot water in our room we found an alternative place for the next 2 nights, a nice little hostel called Don Jose on the other side of town.

Coban: Town centre

Coban itself is not really worth visiting, it is a good place if you plan to do local tours like we did, for example, to Semuc Champey but if not then you could happily skip it.

If you are using it as a jump off point then there are plenty of places to stay although prices vary greatly, there are numerous eating places and supermarkets, most of which are centered around the cathedral at the top of the hill.

Coban: Central Plaza

A downside though was the fact we could not find any accommodation which offered cooking facilities, and am sure we asked almost everywhere, so we had to yet again eat out for every meal.

After 2 days in Coban we decided to move on to our final main stop in Guatemala, Antigua, but not by shuttle!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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