How to Visit Semuc Champey & the Surrounding Caves

We stayed in Lanquin, and took colectivos to Semuc Champey and K’anba cave. The road is rough and with inexpensive transportation available we felt taking the van wasn’t necessary.

Unfortunately pets are not allowed to Semuc Champey or the surrounding caves so we set Sombrita and Graham up with extra toys and treats for a couple hours without us.

Lanquin Cave was first on our list since it’s as soon as we entered town. The cave cost 30Q for the entrance, or around $3.75USD.

We did the dry cave without a guide which was really nice. The area is open and the path was clear. At 6pm the cave becomes alive with hundreds of bats flying out into the gray blue sky. We’ve never seen bats heading for their dinner before so watching them was amazing.

After a quiet night at the Lanquin gas station/campground we headed into the street to find a colectivo headed for Semuc Champey.

After a few months in Guatemala we were finally locals riding in the back of a pickup.

The hike to the mirador in Semuc Champey was a half hour, all uphill but the views are incredibly rewarding.

Seeing the pools from the mirador was so beautiful. Taking a dip after was much needed and appreciated after the sweaty hike.

On our way down from the mirador a woman and her son were selling coconuts with fresh juice inside. We split one, so refreshing after a hike and only 10Q or a little over a US dollar.

A tip I found before heading there is to bring a lock, it’s not necessary because you can buy a locker but we felt self sufficient having our own.

Semuc Champey is layers of deposited limestone to make the natural pools. Inside the pools is beautiful blue water, a perfect contrast to the yellow stone.

We were able to check out all the pools, jumping in when the water was deep enough and swimming to the next set. Because Semuc Champey is so big we easily stayed far from other people. It was fantastic cooling off in the blue water.

Under the pools is a raging underground river. Which is visible from the top of the pools.

Another note is there is not much food around these attractions. One family was selling grilled chicken in front of Semuc Champey but as someone that does not eat meat I was glad we packed PBJs.

Across the bridge from Semuc Champey is K’anba cave.

Before heading into the cave we wandered the natural area around it.

We found the edge of Semuc Champey as well as where the underground river returns to the sunlight. Such a surprise to see so much water flowing under a huge structure.

But the best part of K’anba is exploring the underground water cave with only a candle for light.

We quickly got waist deep in water, holding a rope for support. Some parts the water was too deep to stand but it does get much deeper during the rainy season.

Already at the edge of my comfort zone when the guide asked if I wanted to climb a waterfall I politely declined. Danny on the other hand excitedly found the rope and hoisted his way up, fighting against the tons of water. Luckily for me there was also a nice ladder nearby.

Our guide took us to a spot in the cave that is deep enough to jump in. Danny took the plunge after watching the guide.

On the way back to the sunlight our guide found a crab scurrying on the rocks. The illusion that nothing was in the dark water I was treading through shattered but I kept my cool as we wadded through the water.

After our tour in the wet cave we wandered around the natural area again. We loved relaxing, letting the adrenaline cool off and having snacks in the river fed pool. K’anba also has a mirador with a nice view of Semuc Champey’s waterfall and the underground river.

Semuc Champey was 50Q each, that included the mirador and swimming in the natural pools. K’anba was 60Q each, which included the tour as well as access to a mirador hike and the river fed pool.

Taking the colectivo was 15q each whether we rode inside or in the truck bed.

There will be people trying to help you book the tours once you get to Semuc Champey and K’anba. You really don’t need their help and they may be asking for more money than it costs for their cut. You’re so close to doing it yourself! Trust the people behind the desks and politely tell the others help isn’t needed.

The way water formed these structures is so amazing, there are hundreds of caves in this area some still waiting to be found.

After Semuc Champey and K’anba we headed for a nice spot to walk our furry family.

Sombrita loved the setting next to the river to jump in and out of the water and of course run without a destination. Graham was happy to find a bit of grass to chew on and follow me on a little walk.

We also made a YouTube video with more about our trip!

We used the app iOverlander to find our campsites.

Thanks to our friend Cameron for the suggestion to visit Semuc Champey and K’anba!