Coban and the Stunning Semuc Champey

Published: October 9th 2011
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After our little mini chill out in El Remate, we continued on to the town of Coban. We stayed here as it is a good stepping stone in order to get to Semuc Champey, the famous clear water pools of Guatemala. Again the bus trip to our destination was full of antics and craziness which you may have realised is a bit of a running trait here in Central America. This time the driver decided he fancied a chat with his friend in another bus, and therefore he just pulled alongside his buddies van, being in the wrong lane, and stayed there chit-chatting away until a car came the other way before quickly pulling in and repeating this once the vehicle had passed.

Anyway, after a fairly long and dangerous drive, we finally made it to Coban. Here, we found ourselves a place to stay, and then went on the hunt for an ATM. This had become a bit of an issue from back on the border of Guatemala, as we were running low on cash, and no ATM would give us any money, so we were on a bit of a budget to say the least! When we finally found an ATM that was happy to give is some money, we were pretty relieved. As money was now bulging from our pockets, we decided to go spend some of it, and book a trip to Semuc Champey (SC).

The next morning, we hopped on yet another bus, bound for Lanquin, and onto SC. When we got there, we hiked up to the Mirador (lookout point) which was quite a lofty climb, but was well worth the effort. The views from there were absolutely stunning, seeing the pools below, and the mountain range surrounding it. The hike being fairly challenging in the humid heat of the Guatemala sun, meant we couldn’t get down quick enough in order to swim in the lakes to refresh ourselves and cool down. Once in, it was great to swim around in these natural pools and take in the scenery.

Sadly, the tour was cut a little short in the end, as the mid-day rain was due in and the driver hadn’t brought the 4 wheel drive van, so didn’t want to have to tackle the unforgiving steep hills of the unmade road that got us out of Semuc Champey and back to Coban. The hills really were quite steep, and the road was just gravel and mud. Unfortunately for us the plan didn’t work, and the rain hit before we had time to get out of there, we therefore spent a good hour or so trying to get up these muddy slopes in a two wheel drive mini-van…… in pouring torrential rain! Initially, the driver tried to navigate around the big rocks the in the road and pick the best route through, but as the rain got worse, and the tyres got more slippery, the tactics went from strategic navigation, to swapping us around in the bus for weight distribution, and then when that didn’t work, it was just all out tear it up the hill as fast as it was possible to go in the van, and hope to follow the line of the road! Luckily, the final tactic did work, although it certainly wasn’t the most comfortable or safe ride up!

Still, we did manage to finally make it up, and eventually back to Coban in enough time to grab something to eat, and to get some shut eye as we were moving on again in the morning to the old colonial town of Antigua.

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