Semuc Champey is known for its limestone bridges, caves and pools by the Cobahan river. Had recommendations of going here by a friend from back home and after seeing pictures online i defiantly knew that this was a must go place for me in Guatemala. My Guatemala planing is so far very non existent, so I was in the kind of remote San Marcos La Laguna when deciding that it was time to go to Semuc Champey. Knew it wouldn't be a 10 hour ride as according a certain search engine told me so decided to break it down to a couple of days instead of running in to the risk being stuck along the way somewhere late at night...
LEG 1: San Marcos La Laguna to Panajachel
Thought I was better off staying a night in Panajachel which actually have a road that leads to Semuc Champey so my first leg only consistent in a 45 minute boat ride over Lake Atitlan. After the bumpy boat ride I got in to a 3 minute tuk tuk to the hotel, after all it was raining hard so no walking today!
LEG 2: Panajachel to Los Encuentros
At 615 am i boarded the bus toward Xela to get of in Los Encuentros to change to a bus taking me to Chichicastenango. Original plan was to take a bus straight from Panajachel to Chichi but since i just missed the 6 am one and the next wouldn't be until another hour, I thought this would be quicker. It took about an hour to travel the 20 kms. If you ever plan to do this trip then try to get a seat on the left hand side. Makes for some stunning views over Lake Atitlan.
Music playing: A big mix of Reggaeton, Spanish love ballads and some 90s boybands.
LEG 3: Los Encuentros to Chichicastenango (Chichi)
I had a young gentleman grabbing my big backpack straight away after getting off the bus at Los Encuentros. The young man pointed me in the direction of my bus as soon as i said Chichi. He followed with my bag and i saw a glimps of him getting up on the roof with my bag. I got on the bus with "Eye of the tiger" blaring from the speakers on the bus. Got a tad worried when the bus left and the guy who helped with my bag still wasnt on the bus. Started to wonder if he actually worked on the bus or if i managed to give away my bag to some random stranger! But after couple of minutes he climbed in to the bus from the back door. Only took half an hour to travel the 25 km to Chichi.
LEG 4: Chichi to Santa Cruz del Quiché
The previous buses today had been the normal chicken buses but this time i was on a minibus. Had a really comfortable 20 km that again only took half an hour. Its amazing how quick you move when the bus doesn't stop every two minutes. Bus was only half full so plenty of space for once.
LEG 5: Santa Cruz del Quiché to Uspantán
Another minibus ride but this time not so much space. This time they squeezed what felt like the whole village in to the bus. I guess i should be happy because at least i had a proper seat and didn't have to half stand. Far from comfortable though and it got so warm and the girl in front of me kept putting her hair over her backrest so it kept on touching my legs. The leg was 70 km and took 2.5 hours, least favourite leg so far I can assure you. We also had to stop for gas half way, and this is when i have a question... I been at a gas station three times now on a minibus, why do the gas attendant and driver always rock the minibus back and forth when putting gas in the tank????!!!
LEG 6: Uspantán to Coban
This was the last ride for this day and i was looking forward to arrive in to Coban where I had a night booked at a hotel. This was defiantly the bumpiest leg but at least i had a very good seat on the bus. So this time i wasn't as uncomfortable as in the ride before. It took 3.5 hours to travel the 77 km and out of the 3.5 hours then about 2.5 hours was on gravel road. This road had pot holes in places that would swallow a Fiat 500 whole. If we didn't meet big trucks then we would be behind one or try to overtake one. Again the minibus was filled to max and I did not envy the two people who kind of had to half stand. I mean have you ever tried to stand in a minibus? Its not possible!!!
LEG 6: Coban to Lanquin
This ride left at 9 am and was in a nearly normal sized bus felt very luxuriously compared to the rest, here i even got an assigned seat and it was kind of a single seat at the window. Was delighted to sit on the right hand side of the bus since i heard this would be the best view. In my naivety i also thought that the bus wouldn't get over crowded since we all had signed seats. But i was kind of wrong, after about half an hour the bus was more then full again. This thing with signed seats caused a ton of confusion before we left Coban, there was a lot of arguments on who was sitting where....
After 2.5 hours on first a very good road that lead in to 1.5 hours of another proper dirt road covered with big rocks and we were in Lanquin.
LEG 7: Lanquin to Utopia Eco hotel
There are several places to stay close to Semuc Champey, I stayed at Utopia Eco hotel. I would call it more a hostel then hotel but one thing is for sure, its a great place to stay. They also arranged a free pick up at Lanquin when i arrived. This was only a 45 minute drive in a 4*4 with very powerful engine thank you very much. If i said i been on dirt road before then it was nothing compared to what led me up to Utopia which is situated in the middle of the forest! But in the end i made it:)
THE HOW & COST:
San Marcos La Laguna - Panajachel
Boat GTQ 20/ USD 2.60 / EUR 2 (45 minutes)
Panajachel - Los Encuentros
Chicken bus GTQ 5/ USD 0.60/ EUR 0.50 (1 hour)
Los Encuentros - Chichi
Chicken bus GTQ 5/ USD 0.60/ EUR 0.50 (30 minutes)
Chichi - Santa Cruz del Quiché
Minibus GTQ 6/ USD 0.70/ EUR 0.60 (30 minutes)
Santa Cruz del Quiché - Uspantán
Minibus GTQ 30/ USD 4/ EUR 3.50 (2.5 hours)
Uspantán to Coban
Minibus GTQ 30/ USD 4/ EUR 3.50 (3.5 hours)
Coban to Lanquin
Bus GTQ 30/ USD 4/ EUR 3.50 (2.5 hours)
WHERE I STAYED:
Hotel Victoria private room, ensued bathroom GTQ 85 / USD 11/ EUR 10
Hotel Don Juan Matalbatz Private room, shared bath GTQ 99/ USD 13/ EUR 11.50
Utopia Eco Hotel, bed in a dorm GTQ 65/ USD 8.50/ EUR 7.50
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
WHERE AM I?