Lanquin, Semuc Champey & Tikal

Published: July 4th 2010
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So we arrived at Lanquin after an interesting journey through the mountains on a gravel road after the paving ran out and the humidity just got higher and time we reached our hostel (El Retiro) we were ready for a swim. We booked a room and headed for the river at the bottom of the hostel to cool down. The hostel was great - a complete change to what we had been used to - cobañas with thatched roofs on stilts with hammocks outside - jungle around and a fast flowing river at the bottom - it was bliss!

10 mins after getting in the water we were asked if we fancied some tubing down the river...of course we was exactly what was required! We jumped in the back of a truck with our tubes and headed up river. The health and safety brief consisted of - heres your tube, jump in. Only after 10 minutes downstream were we asked if we could swim! It was really fun - we stopped off at the side for some tree climbing/river jumping and floated on down - Sarah managed to do a very good job of getting caught in nearly every bush and overhanging tree on the way down the river!

We just chilled out the next day and got used to the heat - it was truly sweltering. About 30 degrees without the humidity! The river was a great feature of the hostel - really fast flowing with a rope across - I think it was probably possible to water ski on it just by holding the rope should you have had the inclination!

The next day we were up early for Semuc Champey - we were gifted with another completely blue sky and by 8am it was already roasting hot. We hopped in the back of a truck and trundled over more of the same gravel tracks for another 10km or so passing an upturned tourist bus on the way (fortunately it hadn´t just happened but was a stark reminder of what can and does hapen on these roads). We got to the caves and first cooled off in the river with the aid of a 40 ft rope swing. We were then led up to the cave entrance with a candle in hand in our swimming gear and headed into the caves - yes a Candle was our only form of light. It was brilliant - clambering up waterfalls with candle in mouth (much like a pirate with a cutlass) and swimming keeping the candle alight. It was topped off with some high jumps off into deep warm cave pools before heading out via a rather interesting letterbox style hole to fit through that was being pounded all the time by water. All in all I dont think Guatemala really has a H&S manual or has ever even heard of a risk assessment!

We headed up the river after our little troglodye adventure for a bit more of this wonderful tubing. After this it was a quick bit of food before the sweatiest moment of my life...

We walked up to the Mirador (viewpoint) which our Guide informed us would take 20 mins, regardless of the sign that said 1 hr 15 minutes... we did do it in 20 minutes, however it was the steepest ascent of mud, stone and wooden ladders up the side of a mountain I have ever experienced. In jungle climate in only shorts, I was still sweating more than I care to relate in this email...Let it be said that I believe I may have lost hald of my body weight by time we got to the top - it was totally worth it though - the view of the pools and the surrounding mountains was magical. The only thing the the view did was tell me how much I needed to be in those azure blue pools below!

After a quick descent we dived straight in - it was paradise - the pools are actually a limestone bridge that the main river passes below - they are filled by spring water and run off from the mountains. It was the MOST beautiful place I have ever been. There are about 7 pools all connected by small trickling waterfalls. The water is crystal clear and its like diving into a bath. I was sad to leave.

We got back on the truck and headed back with a lot of new friends. All the guys we were on the tour with were great and we ended having a really good rum fuelled party late into the night. Most of them ended up in Flores which is where I am writing this from - we are all here to see the astounding Tikal. I think we may be heading to Honduras with 2 of the Aussie girls that we did with the caves and the pools.

Tikal was incredible. After getting up for 5am and thinking that we had been ripped off, the tour guide eventually turned up and we got to the park, after a little git dog managed to pee on my bag whilst I wasnt looking. It was so good to be there early - by time we left at 12 it was so hot and humid that I couldnt take any more anyway! The ruins are incredible. The park is 175 sq/km and they have uncovered only 20% of the buildings. Climbing them was a challenge as I had been struck with the old travellers illness again so I hadnt eaten at all and climbing in that humidity was not fun.

Pictures will be following as soon as I find a computer that is fast enough to do it I PROMISE!

Heading to Honduras next for some carribean dive fun.

Love to all



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