~ It’s only paradise until discovered! ~
Semuc Champey has been known about to locals and few nationals until the last few years. Once a few hearty explorers and adventurous backpackers made the precarious trek deep into the remote valley of Alta Verapaz, the secret began to spill out slowly. Nowadays, it’s the absolute premier destination in Guatemala, if you are enduring and venturesome. Though infrastructure near the area has been vastly improved as far as the town of Pajal, the last 22 kilometres remain a steep and beaten path impassible to anything less a 4X4 machine with high clearance and horsepower.
I not so secretly hope that it never improves.
Extraordinary places like Semuc Champey should require tremendous efforts to be reached.
And an extraordinary place it is!
In the deepest of the towering jungle valley where the howler monkeys howl, the mighty Rio Cahabon suddenly plummets deep into the earths crust under a magnificent limestone bridge. A waterfall of crystalline pools extends for 300 meters between the fiercely wild cliffs of the Guatemalan mountains.
The translucent waters rush gently from one natural natatorium to another with a sense of placidity and infinity.
It is possible to stroll the shallow divides, swim the chilly waters, practice your acrobatic dives from the highest shelves or slide down smoothly eroded waterslides.
For best vantage point, make the strenuous half hour climb to the mirador. From high above the mirador platform the turquoise waters look completely still, a heavenly break from the stirring jungle surroundings.
For those willing to brave the way to Semuc Champey, the rewards are sublime.
~ An Extraordinary Story by Karina Noriega ~
~ People create wastelands of natural paradise ~
Help protect this fragile habitat by staying on the designated trails, hiring a local guide and respecting the local Q’eqchi’ people. (Q’eqchi’ are the dominant Maya group in the central highlands.)
Also, don’t poop in the jungle valley! Where do think it washes down to? There are designated bathrooms. Yes, they are out of the way, but do you really want to watch/smell the port-a-potty while you swim?
- Q50 for foreigners
- Q30 for Guatemalans
What to bring:
- Swimsuit, sunscreen, sturdy shoes for the climb, camera and lunch.
Other activities in the area, specially given how hard you worked to get here:
- Caving, Tubing, Hiking, Chocolate farm, Zip Line
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