It was a day of travel from the mountain school to the town of Coban. 4 separate local buses, and I was holding someone’s sleeping baby on my lap for a part of the way. I love the adventures on the local transport, and it seems so much more efficient than the tourist shuttles which are often running late or over filled with oversized westerners. At least the local buses are full of local people and there is always something interesting to see!
I arrived in at Coban – which is the jumping off point to Semuc Champey at around 5:30pm, just in time for a beer with Anna from the Mountain School; who had come from Lake Atitlan that day. We had a nice dinner at a pretty pricey restaurant and then headed to bed early ready for the bus trip to Semuc Champey the following day.
The local bus from Coban to the town of Lanquin took around 2.5 hours to get there; the final part along a very windy and steep gravel road on the edge of the cliff was a little bit hair-raising, particularly because our driver was taking the turns at breakneck speed! We did manage to arrive in Lanquin in one piece though luckily and from there we called the Hostel Utopia – which was situated out of town close to the tourist attraction of Semuc Champey to come and pick us up. 45 minutes later after a very bumpy but beautiful pick up ride, we were in paradise at Utopia – a beautiful eco-lodge set by the river with great views to the surrounding hills. A great place from which to explore the local area. We were staying in a cool upstairs open air dorm which kept us pretty cool during the night which was pretty hot compared to what we had been experiencing at the Mountain School! We had a family dinner of Tomales – which was a little pricey at 60Q and then had some beers and played cards before bed.
The following day we set out on our adventure for Semuc Champey. We were able to walk to the site from our accommodation which was a nice walk through the local town by the river and then along the local road. When we reached Semuc Champey we could immediately tell that it was a little bit more touristy. Lots of local children selling water and beer – at 10am in the morning! But once we entered SC things were a lot calmer – in fact, only about 5 people had entered before us that day. Our first order of business was to climb the slippery stairs up to the look out over the rock pools of Semuc Champey. We were able to see the different colours of the shallow pools and hear the rush of the river running below them. It was a beautiful sight and we were pretty excited to get down there and go for a swim after all the sweaty walking! We spent most of the afternoon enjoying the natural rock pools and swimming. There were surprisingly few people there which was great – more space for us to enjoy! At 3:30 we met at the river for tyre tubing transport back to the Utopia hostel. It was the best way to finish the day – floating down the river on a tyre tube with a beer in hand! There were even some tiny rapids which made the trip a little more exciting too as we tried to keep our beers high above the water! We played some cards and drank some beers to celebrate Anna’s last night before departing for Antigua and the next part of her trip.
The next day I took a walk through the village to experience the countryside and to walk over some suspension bridges that the locals used to get from one side of the river to the other. It was some beautiful scenery but the bridges were a little scary to walk across, lots of gaps where the wooden slats had fallen away. Afterwards, I walked back down to Semuc Champey, but this time I stayed on the opposite side of the river and I was able to walk all the way down beside the river to a viewpoint where I could see the pools of Semuc Champey and the river escaping out from below the rock pools. It was an awesome sight! I also found a really nice pool which had been made alongside the river where I was able to go for a swim and cool off. Finally, to finish the day I again caught the tyre tubes back down the river to Utopia. Once again it was an amazing day in Nature and it was great coming back to the amazing hostel Utopia.
On Friday, it was time to leave Utopia and head back to Coban. I’d left all of my chargers at the hostel – another stupid mistake! The trip back to Lanquin in the back of the pick up was nice. It was just me and the driver and we stopped off midway for a refreshing coconut. I changed to a bus at Lanquin for the windy trip back to Coban. We had some crazy rain this time – luckily the guys were nice enough to bring my bag back inside the bus so all my stuff didn’t get wet. It was nice being back at the hostel – the guys were really welcoming and I had delicious tostadas by the market square for dinner.