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Semuc Champey – Day 12

Posted by | Evil Kristos | January 29, 2009 | 2 Comments

Lanquin as a village is rather depressing. I certainly wouldn’t want to live there. I wouldn’t even want to walk around there but I had to. Plan for the day was to go to Semuc Champey and I didn’t want to go with a guided tour. I looked for the local bus and found it pretty quickly. It was about to depart. Lucky me.

Semuc is basically a few water pools in a gorge. The water is cascading down a few steps and ends in a little waterfall. The pools are mostly green and not only look spectacular the water is also warm enough to swim.

So far so good; what makes it most spectacular is the fact that you can climb up to a view point and look down on this little paradise. It’s quite something as you will see on the pictures.

First I had to get there. I was initially considering a little walk. Semuc is only 10 kilometres away from Lanquin. I’m glad I didn’t. Even on the bus – the usual heap of scrap – it felt much further. The road was bad and it was narrow. Also it had rained so the situation was worse than usual.

Driving back and forwards seems to be immensely popular in Guatemala. The busses are always packed. On this particular occasion the vehicle with about twenty seats held at least 30 people. As if this wasn’t enough they had thrown a considerable amount of firewood and to add some weight a few sacks of what smelled like dung on to the roof.

On the first hill the driver switched down to second gear and finally in to first and then the engine died. The bus was simply to heavy. We were stuck on a steep hill with nowhere to go. They tried to secure the bus with a few rocks but that didn’t really work either. We were going backwards.

The driver gave up and kicked out half the people. Then he let the bus roll back to a part where it was less steep – awesome feeling when you sit in this very bus and look down in to a gorge – and tried again. This time we made it and the people hopped back on.

We made the rest of the trip without further incidents. There were a couple of hairy situations but at the end of the day these guys drive that road every day so I was sure they know what they are doing.

Semuc greeted me with a bunch of kids trying to sell chocolate, a guy with a shotgun and of course the greedy midget that wanted 50 Quetzales admission. So far so good. I went in and immediately was captured. This place is quite something. I followed the path to the pools further upstream.

At some stage I saw a sign saying “El Mirador” onepointsomething kilometres, 1 hour 15 minutes and very difficile and something else in Spanish. That didn’t sound like me so I continued on the path along the river. I reached the pools and they looked awesome. I still tried to find that view point so I followed the path a little further.

Again it said something about El Mirador but nothing about over one hour and also nothing about difficile. Obviously they meant me.

At first the way uphill had proper stairs, then it turned into a path. The further I went the worse the path became and the steeper the steps. Also it was quite slippery because of the rain the day before. Since I didn’t know how far it was I just thought it can’t be that bad and went on.

Twenty minutes later I was still walking uphill and pretty exhausted. Stupid mountains. I ain’t no goat! There wasn’t even a bar on the way up or a little man slapping my back and saying: “You are doing good”. This sucked.

At some stage – sweating and in bits – I reached a Y-junction or so I thought. This must be the other path then. I had taken the shortcut. Since the signs were a little misleading I followed what looked like the more natural choice. Mental note to myself: Don’t trust your instincts. You have none. Just follow the stupid path.

After a rather muddy bit with a lot of bushes and other obstacles I reached some sort of plantation were the path suddenly ended. At this stage I got a little suspicious. This didn’t look right and there was nowhere to go from here. After thinking about this for a moment I turned around. Lost in the jungle? This sounded just like me. I managed to get back to the Y-junction and thought again about these signs.

Standing right in front of them one pointed right and said something that obviously meant pools and the other one pointed to the left and said El Mirador. I am not sure how I managed to get that wrong but hey; I’m a guy. I don’t ask for directions.

Instead of leaving the path I now followed it and after a short descent it went up again. It was very slippery and – since I had managed to get to Semuc around noon – very hot. I like a little challenge.

Another very steep ladder. Who is building these things? Have they no mercy with the unfit? Also I am no good with heights. This last ladder required lot of focus. Don’t look up or down just concentrate on the next step. I made it and shortly afterwards I arrived at a wooden platform that was … very very and I mean very very high above everything. It was also slightly moving. I immediately stepped back. No one had mentioned anything about a dodgy looking little wood thingy that was floating in outer space.

I had to sit down for a little. This would take some time. There were four chicas sitting at the edge of the platform and they invited me to join them. I declined and sat on some solid piece of good old rock.

OK; I had to do something. After all this effort I would not go back down without my picture. I set up the tripod and put in on the platform. I set up the camera and fiddled with the settings. The stupid railing was in the way so I would have to step on the platform. And so I did. It took a lot of courage and the girls watched me with growing interest. They obviously didn’t understand what I was going through.

Semuc Champey from above (with a 70 mm zoom!)

Semuc Champey from above (with a 70 mm zoom!)

I was brave. At the end I managed to go to the very edge of the platform, look down without fainting and of course I took my pictures. I was very proud of myself; almost as proud as the zillions of insects that had feasted on my legs while I was there. One of the bites looked much more like spider than sand flies or mosquito. It didn’t look good anyways.

I went back down and jumped into the pool. The water was good, it was very good. I slowly cooled down felt almost human again. This place was just spectacular.

After a while I even was in the mood for a little walk. Since there was no bus to be seen I started to walk back towards Lanquin. The bus caught up with me at some stage and – oh wonder – since I had walked 2 of the ten kilometres back they had increased the fare by 50 percent.

That night I drank with some Irish guys and I felt good. I couldn’t really feel my legs but who needs legs when you sit on a pillow in a bar next to a river in good company and have an ice cold beer on a mild night like this? I liked this place.

Semuc Champey - The pools

Semuc Champey - The pools


2 Responses to “Semuc Champey – Day 12”

  1. JD
    January 30th, 2009 @ 21:28

    That looks incredible, I have to say… If you turn into The Incredible (Probably Poisonous) Guatemalan Spider-Tourist, though, please don’t blame me.

  2. admin
    February 1st, 2009 @ 00:43

    Too late, I already did 😉

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