Turquoise pools and misty temples


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Published: April 11th 2007
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Q: How many people can you fit in an 11 seat collectivo minibus?

From the town of Coban, Guatamala we arranged a tour which took us through the depressingly deforested hills to a remote protected area. The area encompasses the gorgeous river and pools of Semuc Champey carved into the limestone rock of the area. A short hike into the park brought us along the river and up to the beautiful turquoise pools. We then headed up the steep path in the morning heat and intense humidity through the forest up to an incredible lookout high above the pools (well worth the climb). Back down to the pools and a refreshing swim and lunch. Our guide then showed us where the river heads through a limestone cave leaving the shallow and calm pools above. He then led us over numerous small falls into more pools below before throwing a rope ladder over the edge of a cliff(at this point Angela quickly turned around), secured it around a large rock and we followed him over the edge into another large cave where the river exited. With water seeping through the porous ceiling above we climbed a ways into the cave and down near the raging river below (I must mention our group of ~15 had shrunk to just 4 at this point). We climbed back out of the cave and up the rope ladder into the bright sunshine, I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie climbing up over the lip of the cliff into the pools above. Made our way back up the upper pools for a quick swim and then off to our next stop.

Our next stop brought us to Grutas de Lanquin, which are a massive series of limestone caves, most of which are yet to be explored. We entered in to the caves through a small opening into a massive cavern and began to climb the slippery rock into the cave network. Behind me I heard Angela slip on the rock and send some pebbles rattling down a hole. At that point I swear I heard the distant rumbling of the awakening Balrog. Our guide was only willing to take us as far as lights have been established but it was quite exciting anyway with many great ancient formations created in the weathered limestone. Photos didn't really turnout though. Back to Coban for the night. Ate at the great restaurant at the hostel and shared travel stories with this interesting retired couple and another young couple from Calgary.

Back on another shuttle the next day bound for Flores. We were hoping to catch a connecting bus in Flores to stay just outside the entrance to the Mayan ruins of Tikal but with numerous frusterating stops we missed our connection. Then more frusteration trying to find a place to stay getting toured around to the shuttle drivers friends hotels (just some of the annoyance of travelling sometimes). Anyways finally booked into a hotel in the scorching heat. A bright note was we were able to book our sunrise tour to Tikal for a pretty good deal.

So up at 3am for the hour and half drive to Tikal. As the first signs of light were coming through the heavy mists we were sitting atop Temple IV looking out over the jungle below to see other temples in the distance while parrots, toucans and howler monkeys made their presence heard nearby. What a magical experience! The hike up to the temple in the dark was quite exciting as groups of howler monkeys bellowed out their eerie crys in the trees above as we walked past. We spent the next few hours with our excellent guide Cesar touring the amazing Mayan ruins of Tikal gaining knowledge of the history and viewing the incredible structures that were excavating out of the dense jungle over the past 125 years. Back to Flores and some final gift shopping in Guatamala before heading off to Belize the next day.

A: At least 22 people plus gear.


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19th April 2007

It's sacrificing time!!!
Wow, that sounds amazing! Imagine how many people were sacrificed on those temples! Do they happen to have any spare human sculls you could bring home ?(my birthday is coming up). I would have totally peed my pants climbing down that rope ladder. Have you guys been bitten by anything poisonous yet? Lots of love, Tara

Tot: 2.027s; Tpl: 0.068s; cc: 9; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0278s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb