Semuc Champey and Lanquin, Guatemala – Story & Guide

This town situated in the dead centre of Guatemala’s mountainous rainforest region is up there as one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The breathtaking scenery, the feeling of being in the jungle, the stunning Semuc Champey waterfalls and the option to sleep at Zephyr Lodge (the most stunning hostel I’ve ever stayed in) all make the relentless 10 hour journey each way totally worth it.


I planned to go here for 2 nights and ended up staying a week.


Semuc Champey

The main draw of Lanquin is to see and swim in the crystal blue waters of the magnificent Semuc Champey. This is something that is easily organised through your accommodation. It is possible to get there by yourself, but it’s 30 minutes outside of Lanquin along an incredibly rough dirt road and organised tours will include transport as well as lunch and in my opinion are worth paying for. Having Water Shoes is a real advantage here to help you get across the rough rocks into the smooth swimming pools where you can SLIP & SLIDE down the natural rock formations into the blue waters. Take a GoPro as well for some great water-slide videos.


Before you can even get to swim in the cool pools you will of course need to find some accomodation and get some rest after what will likely have been 10 hours on a bus (if coming from Antigua/Flores).


Where to Stay

I recommend to Stay at Zephyr Lodge. Situated 10 minutes by tuktuk out of the town, literally perched on the top of a mountain with an Infinity Pool boasting panoramic views over the surrounding valley, the lodge is constructed in a traditional style with thatched roof. The comfy dorm beds are housed in the roof with beautiful picture-perfect windows looking out over the surrounding landscape. They also offer private rooms and small villa-style accommodation options. The food is great, reasonably priced and the alcohol is cheap!

But I recommend this place with Some Conditions. I was lucky enough to be there in low season, with around 20-30 people staying in the place each night at most. As a result we often had the infinity pool to ourselves during the day whilst faster backpackers were busy out seeing the falls and surrounding areas before moving on. At night time there was enough people for the place to have a social feel, with the management putting on Quiz Nights/Games Nights but the parties were never so outrageous that it felt like a horrible party hostel.


However….I’ve heard some Horror Stories about people being there in high season and it just being so packed and having that really intense “party hostel” vibe that ruined it for them. So make sure that you’re confident that you want to go here and that it’s the right time of year for you if you don’t like party vibes.


If Zephyr lodge isn’t the one for you there are plenty of other hostels that offer very similar kinds of hilltop vibes with views as well as loads of hostels down in the main town.


The town of Lanquin itself doesn’t have much to offer other than lots of hostels, cheap naff restaurants and a few local stores etc. This is why Lanquin is a good place to pay that little extra to stay in a hostel like Zephyr Lodge that has the pool, the food, the amenities that you can almost treat it like a resort and just stay in the hostel and enjoy yourself.


Other Activities

Not much on offer I’m afraid, other than perhaps hiking the local area and of course the River Tubing; about that… I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to do the tubing tour with the hostel, but I was the only person who seemed up for it due to the rain. Which to me was confusing…. “It’s raining! I don’t want to get wet when I’m floating…down…a…river!”??? Hmmm. I think even without the rain you’re gonna get your feet a touch damp, no?

(friends for life)

Anyway, after much persevering (harassing) people at the breakfast table, I managed to pull together a group of 8, which meant the hostel could go ahead with the tubing tour. We donned our swimsuits, picked up our inner tube (+river beers of course) and boarded the truck.


Basically it’s floating down a river until you get to the finish point where a truck picks you up.


But guess who had the worst time of all? Me of course! I couldn’t even steady my tube enough on the river bank to get into it without turning the whole thing upside down. Then we hit some rapids and I flew off again (several times), dragging my poor legs across the rocks below trying to scramble to climb aboard again. This to the rest of the group of course was the main entertainment. All the same, it was a great morning and I enjoyed it!


Furthermore, that group of 8 people became friends for life. After tubing we headed back to the Lodge and drank ourselves silly by the pool, all ended up staying in Lanquin far longer than we’d planned and then all moved on to Antigua as a group and travelled the rest of Guatemala together. You know who you are my Guatamala legends!


In Summary

So that’s your Lanquin itinerary sorted for you!

1 day of tubing,

1 day visiting Semuc Champey,

5 days sitting by a pool and drinking yourself silly, claro que si!

Thank me later.

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