SEMUC CHAMPEY TOUR (DIY) – BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champey

Semuc Champey is one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations, tucked away in the depths of the Northern Guatemalan jungle. Featuring a natural bridge of limestone around 300 meters long with cascading turquoise-colored swimming pools. Sounds too good to be true right?!

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about Semuc Champey including how to get there, where to stay and how to visit Semuc Champey on a budget without a tour. 

 

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HOW TO GET TO SEMUC CHAMPEY

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach Semuc Champey other than sitting on a bus for an entire day. The two most common routes to Semuc Champey are from Antigua City in the south of Guatemala or from Flores in the north. 

The journey from door to door takes between 10 and 12 hours. It’s not ideal but it’s the only way to get there.

Shuttle buses from Antigua / Flores to Semuc Champey depart once per day typically around 8:00 am and arriving at 6:00 pm in Lanquin which is the closest town to Semuc Champey.

Upon arriving, you’ll have to transfer from the shuttle bus and into the back of a 4×4 truck for transport to your accommodation. There will be locals shouting the names of each hotel/hostel as soon as you get off the bus so listen out for the name of your accommodation to make sure you get into the right vehicle. 

Depending on where you are staying, the drive from Lanquin to your accommodation can take up to 1-hour along a very windy and bumpy road. It’s not that enjoyable to be honest, especially after a 10-hour bus ride to get here, but you’re in the jungle of Guatemala after all and it’s all part of the adventure!

The cost of the shuttle bus from Antigua to Lanquin is around 150 Quetzals and from Flores to Lanquin it’s around 120 Quetzals. The 4×4 transport from Lanquin to your accommodation in Semuc Champey is free of charge.

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyBus to Semuc Champey

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyMirador Semuc Champey

 

HOW MANY DAYS DO I NEED AT SEMUC CHAMPEY?

This is a question that gets asked quite often and there are a few things to consider when planning your trip to Semuc Champey Guatemala.

To start with, you will need to spend a minimum of 2 nights when visiting Semuc Champey. The reason for this is because you’ll arrive in Lanquin at nighttime and the only time you can leave again for your next destination is on the morning bus. This will give you one full day in between to explore Semuc Champey. 

I, however, recommend spending at least 3 nights to break up the long bus rides in and out of Semuc Champey. An extra day to relax and enjoy the jungle in this remote region of Guatemala is 100% worth it.

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyTurquoise pools – Semuc Champey Tour

 

WHERE TO STAY IN SEMUC CHAMPEY

Semuc Champey has dozens of hotels and hostels to choose from and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one is best. Luckily, there is a variety of accommodations in Semuc Champey to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers and families.

The majority of the nicer hotels are situated in the town of Lanquin and from here it’s approximately a 45-minute drive to reach Semuc Champey. Whereas most hostels and eco-lodges are located much closer to the park and are within walking distance to the entrance of Semuc Champey.

See my recommendations of places to stay in Semuc Champey below and book online ahead of time.

 

Mid Range: El Retiro Lanquin

El Retiro is the best pick for accommodation in Lanquin itself. It’s perfect for those who don’t want to spend a further 45-minutes in the back of a 4×4 to reach their accommodation, especially after the long bus ride getting here. With an in-house restaurant, a bar, shared lounge, sun terrace, billiards table and table tennis. They have double rooms, twin rooms, suites, dormitories and cottages available to suit all sorts of travelers. An á la carte breakfast is available daily at El Retiro Lanquin and they can also help with organising a Semuc Champey tour.

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com

 

Mid Range: Utopia Eco Hotel

Utopia is located 45 minutes drive inland from Lanquin and a great place to stay if you’re a lover of nature as it’s surrounded by lush forest and a running river. Utopia is a 10 minute drive or a 1 hour walk to reach the entrance to Semuc Champey. Some of the best features at Utopia are the in-house vegetarian restaurant, an outdoor gym, basketball and volleyball court, free daily yoga classes, a sun terrace with hammocks, a shared lounge and limited wifi. Choose from a dorm room, double room, triple room of quadruple room. Utopia also offers Semuc Champey tours, chocolate tours and extreme river tubing.

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com


 

Budget: Pachamaya Eco Lodge 

For those who want to be as close as they can to Semuc Champey, your best option is Pachamaya Eco Lodge. It’s approximately a 10 – 15 minute easy walk from Pachamaya to the Semuc Champey entrance. Featuring an in-house restaurant, riverside setting, beautiful gardens and a tour desk. You have the choice of a dorm room or a double room and breakfast is served daily.

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com


 

 

SEMUC CHAMPEY TOUR (DIY)

While most people tend to book a Semuc Champey tour with a travel agency or through their hostel, it’s also possible to visit DIY and for much cheaper. 

Here is a breakdown of the costs of a DIY Semuc Champey Tour:

• 4×4 transport from your accommodation to Semuc Champey / 15 Quetzal each way

• Semuc Champey entrance fee / 50 Quetzal

• BBQ lunch (optional) / 25 Quetzal 

• River tubing (optional) / 65 Quetzal

SEMUC CHAMPEY WITH A TOUR

For those of you that would rather join an all-inclusive Semuc Champey tour, this is also possible. You can either book through your accommodation upon arriving or book your Semuc Champey tour online ahead of time.

The Semuc Champey tour is a full-day adventure that includes all entrance fees and transport, a visit to Kanba Cave, river tubing down Kahabon River and swimming in the turquoise pools of Semuc Champey. All this for $30 USD.

Book Now → Semuc Champey Tour

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyBeing a tourist at Semuc Champey

WHAT TO EXPECT AT SEMUC CHAMPEY

Semuc Champey is open 7 days a week from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. When you arrive at the ticket office on your DIY Semuc Champey tour, you’ll first have to pay to 50 Quetzals entrance fee before heading down the trailhead. 

It’s no more than a 10 – 15 minute walk from the entrance to reach the natural turquoise-colored pools with just a slight incline up the valley. The trail is clearly marked so you can’t get lost. 

Along the way to the pools, you can find a wooden staircase on the left-hand side of the trail that leads up to the Mirador (viewpoint) of Semuc Champey.

It’s a very steep climb that takes around 30-minutes to reach the viewing deck and to where you’ll be rewarded with a birds-eye perspective of Semuc Champey. Reaching El Mirador is a bit of a physical challenge but the view from the top is absolutely phenomenal and not to be missed!

Once you’ve enjoyed the view at El Mirador, continue along the circuit trail for another 20 – 30 minutes to get back down to the bottom of the cliffs. The trail emerges at the top end of the natural limestone bridge and here you can find a dry spot on the rocks to set down your belongings before jumping in for a swim.

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeySemuc Champey ticket office

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeySemuc Champey map

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyThe way up to Semuc Champey viewpoint

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeySemuc Champey El Mirador

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeySemuc Champey Tour

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyAnd back down again

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyTesting the waters at Semuc Champey 

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyA refreshing dip in the natural pools

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyJungle vibes on the Semuc Champey tour

SWIMMING AT SEMUC CHAMPEY

The cascading pools at Semuc Champey are quite large with multiple tiers so you can take your pick of where you would like to go for a dip. The earlier you visit Semuc Champey the better if you want to avoid the crowds and have the pools entirely to yourself. 

Further downstream you can find another level of natural turquoise-colored pools and small waterfalls. This particular area is surrounded by lush trees, making it more of a shady spot to go for a swim. 

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeyMore natural swimming pools – Semuc Champey Tour

semuc champey tour, semuc champey guatemala, semuc champeySmall waterfalls at Semuc Champey Guatemala

FINAL THOUGHTS ON SEMUC CHAMPEY

Semuc Champey is truly one of Earth’s most remarkable vistas and something you don’t get to see every day. Even though it’s a bit of a mission getting here, it’s definitely worth the journey and I guarantee you will love it just as much as I have!

If you have any questions at all about visiting DIY or booking a Semuc Champey tour, please drop me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Book Now → Semuc Champey Tour

 

PIN LOCATION OF SEMUC CHAMPEY 

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MY CAMERA GEAR

• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii 

• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2

• GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black

• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm

• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L

• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m 

• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod

• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome

• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank

• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR GUATEMALA?

• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case

• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle

• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket

• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes

• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag

• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter

• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes

• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel

• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance

• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt

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