Edit Blog Post
Published: February 12th 2009
* Appreciated the tranquility in El Retiro in Lanquin, while exploring the local bat filled caves.
* Took a day trip to Semuc Champey and did dark cave tours involving swimming, jumped from a bridge, tubed, hiked, and chilled in limestone tourquiose pools!
The stop, slow down, and just appreciate the beauty version:
I found my bus to Lanquin, decided to catch the earliest bus there at around 6:30 (it was a Sunday), and on the bus bumped into my friend George from Antigua along with a female friend of his! Awesome luck and provided some good morning conversation on the way to Lanquin. We had all heard that El Retiro was the best place to stay, and there we found that to be true. We all managed to get rooms too which it seems most people fail at the first night! Bonuses of getting to a place early. The ride there takes a while and winds in and out, up and down, and all over the place, right down into Lanquin at a lower altitude. The last part of the ride gets off the main road and onto a dustier rocky track, and thats
where the flora starts getting really really beautiful, natural but looking landscaped as if it had all been planned. The town is small with little to it, but thats kinda its charm.. El Retiro is spaced out, with even the dorms being cabanas with multiple beds in awesome positions and no crowding. Bathrooms and toilets, spotless. Even the nice restaurant is average priced! It also has the joy of being located right on a beautiful flowing emerald green river that you can go tubing, so good! I checked out the other possible hotels after but they were pretty shaggy looking with little to no atmosphere.
We did the Lanquin caves tour in the afternoon and it was awesome, seeing it's varying rock formations (that apparently look like animals if you use your imagination reeeeally hard heh), followed by the grand finale of getting to see all the bats fly out of the cave for a good 30 minutes or more. Oh yeh,you also get to see a little alter inside the cave that used to be used for traditional ceremonies and that is where we found the rock spider.
Now Semuc Champey... this is the thing everybody talks
El Retiro at Lanquin
A paradise of a place
about and it seems everybody goes to. It is renowned as posssibly being Guatemala's prettiest spot (this is coming from the mouth of various Guatemalan's in Antigua, not my opinion). I took a walk into town early to do my usual cheap thing of buying avocados and bread and stuff to make my lunch for the day trip and met up with a german couple I'd met earlier in the hostel for breakfast. A cute nerdy couple it was a bit of a sad breakfast as they were going off solo after to do varying volunteer work in different countries.
9:30 arrived, our transport of a truck arrived, and we all loaded into the back, a happy crew of around 15. Got talking to an interesting guy from Israel, brainy as hell, who was saying about their military service and how you are brought up to really want to be in it e.g. with his marks he was lined up to work in Intelligence or he could of done Vounteer Work style stuff instead but he chose to be a front line grunt because that's kinda what you are brought up to want to be. Interesting stuff. The truck
Emerald green water
Lanquin caves entrance
parked up just near a high yellow bridge and well hopped out. First up, time to get wet! A little bit up past the ranger station is a rope swing into the winding river next to us. Noone seemed to want to first so I did. Heh well, I managed to do a nice big back slap thing in a canonball curl up. My brain seemed to forget that hopping out of the seat while it is going up, with my momentum and the seat's momentum, means it doesn't really work, so I kinda flipped out of it instead of just slipping out! After that everyone else had a run and we got landings from 0 to 10, heaps of fun.
Next, the caves. This is the part I wanted the guide for. It involves walking, wading, swimming, climbing, crouching, and finally jumping from an internal cliff into a pool or dark water, and it was amazing. Mostly done by candlelight, only 3 of us had head torches and I was the only one with a waterproof camera so I became both spotter of formations and bats and photographer. It was definitely the highlight of the day and something
anyone going there I would strongly recommend to.
After that it was tubing time! Beginning just past the rope swing, it took us floating down the river for maybe a good 20 minutes. Fun and relaxing, I really wish there were floating beer vendors around! You can seriously find vendors of basic stuff anywhere at anytime, especially when you don't want to, but here there were none and it really would of been god to have one with an esky fulll of beer in an innertube floating in the middle of the river. We went under the bridge and I thought "wow I really want to jump off that thing...", and that is just what we did next! Maybe 9m high, my war call when jumping was something along the lines of "f this!" before launching, but ended up this time with a perfect landing, much better than my earlier back flop. Almost everyone jumped and then a little local kid put us to shame, jumping from higher than everyone time and time again with 0 fear!
We returned to the guard place thing for food, chowed down, then went on to the next hike. Why we ate
lunch directly before walking a large distance instead of before floating in innertubes I will never know as it was the perfect combination for a stitch! We walked up to El Mirador, my chest infection kicking into overtime making me climb and wheeze like a 70 year old with emphasima (no, I can't spell it). Even my screwed knees kicked in and it was all only a 30 minute climb, it was ridiculus! The view though from El Mirador at the top is beautiful, looking out over the limestone bridge with its emerald coloured water pools. We climbed down to the pools and found one last big sight - a gushing river flowing underneath the limestone bridge. This is what it is famed for, one going over the top and one going underneath. We swam in the top pools for ages, diving in and out, finding a fair few fish, before we walked back to our truck and headed home. It was a good time for me as I was feeling sicker and sicker so walking and swimming had stopped being fun. Back at the hostel I just chilled and watched "300" and that was about it!
was up and out, on the next bus to the next part of the adventure!
Tot: 1.457s; Tpl: 0.074s; cc: 15; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0404s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb