Sunday, May 12, 2013

Semuc Champey Guatemala

More than 10 years ago when I was backpacking through Guatemala I heard about this place called Semuc Champey. It wasn't even on my list of places to go but the other backpackers I'd hooked up with convinced me it was worth the hardship to get there and they were right. Take a look at this cerulean colored pool:

I forget exactly where we were in Guatemala but I know that we took a few buses to a town called Coban where we arranged for a guy with a 4-wheel-drive jeep to take us to Semuc Champey the next day. I remember that we started out really early, like 5 or 6 in the morning because it was a long and rough drive down roads with enormous pot holes but beautiful scenery with exotic birds and squawking parrots.

I felt pretty beat up by the time we arrived but boy was it worth it. We had the place almost to ourselves and spent several hours swimming in the pools and eating a fruit laden lunch and exploring the area.

Semuc Champey is a limestone bridge that sits on top of the Cahabon River. Yes, this is a river on top of a river. The Cahabon River is a raging torrent that runs underneath this natural land bridge that extends for 1,300 feet down the valley. If you go to the top of the pools you can see the Cahabon drop into this enormous hole and at the end of the pools you can see it coming out of the side of the cliff and joining the final waterfall made by these pools.

Our guide was incredible. He took us down to the end of the pools and half way down the face of the waterfall and showed us where we could jump into the river below. Most of us did the jump and then swam to the river's bank and climbed back up the waterfall to get back to the pools.

I happened across some images of beautiful rivers recently and they sparked this memory so I thought I'd write about it and for a short moment relive this happy memory.

The journey back from Semuc Champey to Coban was no less rough but we stopped off and picked some fruit off a tree and sitting in the back of the jeep we shared it out. That evening when I went to shower I discovered that I had a whole bunch of ticks (or tick like creatures) over my lower abdomen. I managed to pull them all off but for a couple of years after that they left small red marks that I scratched at to relieve the itch. None of my fellow travelers suffered this and I had been holding the fruit pod most of the time so I think that they must have come from this plant.

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