semuc champey tour

When I decided years ago that I wanted to visit Guatemala, I always knew I wanted to visit Lake Atitlan and Antigua. These are two of the most popular spots in all of Central America and for good reason. It wasn’t until I looked more into it that I saw the other beauty that Guatemala had to offer. Going on the Semuc Champey tour to visit these colorful pools as well as the Kanba caves was now 100% on my list of things to do. Getting there can seem tricky as it is almost in the middle of nowhere if you compare it to the more popular spots in Guatemala.

Most people when visiting Guatemala either come south from Mexico or Belize. They visit Tikal and then head south towards Lanquin (the town closest to Semuc Champey). We did the opposite and decided to do hike Acatenango first. There is no right or wrong way to travel as there is no right or wrong way to live life. It is hard to say if this was the best way to do things but it was rewarding nonetheless. Below I will give you the details about what to expect while doing the Semuc Champey tour in Guatemala.

semuc champey tour

How to Get to Lanquin

As I previously stated, a lot of people tend to come from up north when visiting Semuc Champey. The town of Flores is where most tend to stay and it is fairly easy to get to here from there. Another popular location is Antigua.

Flores to Lanquin

Over the past few years, the roads to Lanquin have gotten better as more tourism starts to flow in. If you are staying in Flores then there are many tourism companies in town and especially on the island. It is best to either go to one of them or to ask the employees at wherever you’re staying at. The cost should be no more than Q200 and should be even less than this.

Antigua to Lanquin

Same situation as when in Flores but there is always a cheaper option. Chicken buses can be viable and will save you at least Q100+. When taking this many chicken buses, if you mess up towards the end of the day then it isn’t as cheap. We went to a local tourism office around the corner from our hostel at Maya Papaya and we spent Q250 each. This is a long shuttle and will get there within 8 hours.

To view the full map click here and you can find it from different routes within Guatemala

My Suggested Adventure Gear

Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.

  • KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
  • Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.

What Does the Semuc Champey Tour Include

I was surprised by how many things were included in our price for the Semuc Champey tour. Even though they weren’t amazing, I still had a blast the entire day. Some people say they don’t think it is worth coming here but it was one of my highlights during my time in Guatemala. I would suggest booking the tour through your hotel/hostel but if you want to book the Semuc Champey Tour online beforehand then you can as well. This tour started at 9 am from our hotel and we took a 45-minute pickup truck ride down to the entrance of the park. Started the adventure off right.

semuc champey tour


Depending on when your tour arrives at the beginning then you will do the activities in a certain order. If other people are in the caves then you will likely do something else first. We started with the tubing which was our least favorite part of the day. They gave us tubes and went down the river. As we were flowing down for around 10-15 minutes, kids and adults were trying to sell us beers. If you want one, they will throw one at you while floating down the river. River shoes are highly recommended!

semuc champey tour

Kanba Caves

Next on our list of things to do during the Semuc Champey tour was to enter the famous Kanba caves. We have heard about these for a while now and we’re not going to miss this. They tell you to leave everything at the entrance and hand you a lit candle as you are walking in. You are immediately submerged in water and will be trying to hold the candle above your head while holding onto a rope. Full-blown adventure during this time and I loved it. We were then climbing up ladders and going to the end where the waterfall is, rope climbing up that and going back down. It can be scary for some but we all loved it and it was our highlight of the whole Semuc Champey Tour.

kanba caves
kanba caves
kanba caves

Swing (Semuc Champey Tour)

We kept hearing about this “swing” and that some people may have gotten hurt on it before. I didn’t think much of it. How big could this swing really be I thought? Well, it was a lot bigger than I thought and it was amazing. The tour guides will tell you when to go and when to jump. Make sure you jump when they tell you or you will swing back and hurt yourself. Everything here is at your own risk which is part of the adventure.

semuc champey tour
semuc champey tour

Semuc Champey Tour Pools & Overlook

After the swing, we then went to go look at what everyone came here to see, the Semuc Champey pools. Let me tell you firsthand, that it lived up to the hype. When you get inside the park, you will first go to the beginning of the steps that take you to the outlook. If you don’t want to do this part, then you can go straight to the pools themselves. The hike is straight up and mostly a ton of stairs. It took us around 15-20 minutes to reach the top, so not that bad but it could take some 30 minutes. The viewpoint from the top was spectacular. After taking some photos we headed down to the pools and hung out in the water for another 1 or 2 hours before taking the truck back home.

semuc champey lookout
semuc champey tour
semuc champey tour

Semuc Champey Tour Cost

When we arrived at our hotel, we asked reception how much it would be. The cost was Q210 for everything besides lunch. Basically, our only option for food when it was time to eat was to pay an extra Q50 for a homecooked Guatemalan meal right at the bridge to the entrance of Semuc Champey. They called it a buffet but then said we could only take 1 piece of chicken at a time, so hard to say. Overall I think the tour was well worth the cost. We spent an extra Q60 for water shoes and I highly recommend these, especially for the caves.

semuc champey tour

Where to Stay in Lanquin (When doing Semuc Champey Tour)

The town of Lanquin is where everyone suggests staying if you want to do the Semuc Champey Tour. Downtown is where a good amount of the hostels are at. You can also stay at other hostels that are closer to Semuc Champey itself and are deeper into the woods. Below are some of the popular choices amongst backpackers and travelers alike:

semuc champey

My Thoughts on Visiting Semuc Champey

Some things might have been a little unorganized at times and there are people bugging you about buying something from them 24/7. Other than that I loved this adventure of doing the Semuc Champey Tour. There were multiple adventures that everyone will have fun doing. We met someone that was in our tour group and she was 70 years old. She came specifically for the Kanba caves. These experiences are super unique and you might regret it one day if you don’t do the full tour. Everything about this place is magical and you haven’t seen Guatemala until you have seen this natural phenomenon. The river flows underground and that’s what creates what you see today amongst the limestone.

Thank you for reading my guide about the Semuc Champey tour and what it includes. Hopefully, this blog helps anyone that is on the fence about going to this area of Guatemala.

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