Within a few hours, I found myself drenched in sweat from a hike, admiring views that would make your jaw drop, swimming in turquoise blue swimming holes, and exploring caves in which the end is still unknown.
I was finally able to make it out of San Pedro and over to Coban in Central Guatemala, which is often referred to the most beautiful part of the entire country. Arriving into Coban late at night, a group of us stuck together for safety. The group was rather large, around ten people, and I honestly thought we would disperse once we arrived at our accommodation. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A few hours later, we found ourselves all booking a tour together for the nearby pools of Semuc Champey for the following day. Looking around and the people I was with… I knew it would be an eventful journey.
We rose at the crack of dawn and piled into a shuttle that would carry us for two hours to our destination. Arriving there, we immediately were drenched in sweat from the humidity. We were introduced to our guide, and instantly I knew I would like him due to always having a smile on his face. Shirts came off and sunglasses were put on as we started to trek up the mountain. Although it was only a little over a thirty minute hike up, it definitely wore on our legs. For most of it, we were scaling stairs that were built for hikers due to the excessive steepness of the hill. When we made it to the top, we were able to have a look at what lay below…the pools of Semuc Champey.
Semuc Champey is one of the most interesting geological formations I have ever seen or even heard about. The actual pools act more as a bridge over a river. The river flows at a rapid pace, and drops into the earth right as the water calms down, thus creating the pools. About 500 meters past that, the river resurfaces from under Semuc Champey.
After soaking up the scenery and singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” we headed down. Arriving at the pools, I immediately took off my shoes so I can jump in the water and cool off. Although by the time we were in the water it was quite packed, the pools were still absolutely stunning.
Our guide took us swimming/slipping throughout all the pools to where the river resurfaces. He then threw a rope ladder down, allowing us to climb into the cave and see the river flowing underneath. Adrenaline pumping, I climbed down the waterfall and traversed the rocks at the bottom to safety. While the others came down, I sat in awe as I watched the water flow from underneath. Eventually, we made our way back up to the main pools.
It was mid-afternoon by this time, and as we headed back to the van, I realized we still had another stop. Our guide then took us to the Grotas de Lanquin…which was just a few miles from Semuc Champey. What fascinated me the most about the caves is that they still have not found the end. A few years back, a French team went nearly 70 kilometers beneath the earth before having to turn back. Legend has it that the grotas actually open up on the surface somewhere (thus giving it the name grota). Possibly China?
We made the long and tiring journey back to Coban that evening…and most of us found ourselves completely knocked out. We slept long and hard…preparing ourselves for the following day.