Guatemala - Coban, Lanquin and Semuc Champey

Published: June 20th 2011
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David here...

The bus journey to Coban was surprisingly comfortable with not too many people on board, with a stop on the way where we had a very nice chicken sandwich. We arrived in Coban early in the afternoon and checked out a few hotels before staying at the Posada de Don Pedro which had clean enough rooms, shared bathrooms but a nice garden area to sit in. It was here that I noticed that the bag I use daily had been slit while we were traveling either from Guatemala City or the previous day when the buses we were on were particularly busy. Fortunately as the bag had our pac-safe in it, the slit they had made was too small for anything to be pulled out, so we lost nothing. After a quick patch up job using safety pins, and zipping the extend-able bit back up, the bag was still usable. A lesson to us that you really cannot take your eye off of you bags at all. Feeling a little disheartened by this turn of events we wandered round Coban and found it to be a small, dusty little town with not much to offer at all. We found where to get the buses we wanted from, had a coffee on the main plaza and then went back to our room to pick up our nice clean washing, one of the real pleasures of traveling, clean clothes. On the way back to our hotel we were accosted by an American woman who asked us lots of questions about the town and buses and we chatted about our respective trips.

For dinner that night we wandered round town and finally settled on a little Comedor on the main plaza. We had a Plato Typico, which was a plate of 'stuff' and is usually the cheapest thing on the menu. This one came in at £2 each with a soft drink, great value. We then sat reading at the hotel, with me picking up a bottle of iced tea, a drink that I've become addicted to since the free stuff at the Copan Ruinas hotel. The following morning we got up early, headed out of the room, and bumped into Ariele, the American woman who accosted us the day before. We said hello again and then ran off to the bus station to get on a bus to Lanquin. Found one straight away and it headed off round the town, making a circuit and then back to the bus station, where Ariele jumped on. The journey was uneventful and we arrived in Lanquin mid morning, after seeing some beautiful scenery along the way. We jumped out of the bus into a tiny little village, surrounded by hills and greenery. One of the most beautiful places we'd been to on this trip. We scouted out the hotels in the area with Ariele, who spoke more Spanish than us and was more confident with it and decided to all stay at Hotel Rabin Itzam which was basic (bed in a room), clean, cheap, friendly and with beautiful views from the balcony of the surrounding scenery. We didn't do much for the rest of the day apart from walk round the village, which took about 20 minutes, relax at the hotel reading while constantly looking up and admiring what we were seeing. We did go to the local caves in the area however at Q30 each to get in, was too expensive to justify paying as all we wanted to do was watch the bats leaving the cave. We ate at Comedor Shalom in town and enjoyed a Plato Typico which included some vegetables, which were warmly welcomed by us.

The next morning we got up and headed out to the market area to get a bus to the big tourist attraction in the area - Semuc Champey, a series of lime stone pools with a cave system and river underneath them. We jumped into the back of a pick-up truck with Ariele which whisked us away to the entrance. We paid our Q50 each to get in and walked to the pools. There were a few tour groups there but overall the place was quite quiet. The pools and scenery were beautiful and we spent at least 3 hours swimming around and diving before getting out and relaxing for a while. The pools were cold and very refreshing in the heat and we thoroughly enjoyed them. It's hard to put into words just how relaxing it was to be there and how beautiful the place is, hopefully it will come out in the pictures. We left the area at around 4pm and waited an anxious 30 minutes hoping a pick-up truck would pass. Fortunately one did and it took us back into town. It was quite an experience riding standing up in the back of a truck with lots of other people, locals and tourists alike, especially as the scenery is so amazing. That night we had dinner at Restaurant Champey with Ariele and enjoyed a very nice, cheap meal again before relaxing at the hotel before going to bed. Lanquin was exactly the sort of place we needed as we had grown weary of towns and cities. This place offered a slower pace of life where all you could really do was relax and watch the world go by. A real highlight of Guatemala and Central America.

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