Semuc Champey in Alta Verapaz – Guatemala

Semuc Champey is one of the most striking natural monuments in Guatemala. The country is not lacking in natural attractions, but this one is not to be missed.


The monument is located close to Lanquin, a Q’eqchi’ Maya town. This is at the Alta Verapaz department in Guatemala.

What to See

The monument is made up of a limestone bridge 300 meters long. Below the bridge you will see a 40 ft waterfall flowing in the Cahabòn River. Over the bridge you will come across numerous stepped, turquoise pools. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Semuc Champey. The reason for its popularity of course, is that you can swim in it.

Apart from the spring water pools, the place is situated in a valley covered in forest. This adds to the beauty of the surroundings. In turn, the waters of the river flow into the caves. You can go into the caves if you want.


During the Pre-Columbian era, the province of Alta Verapaz was included in the Maya civilization. In the 1520s, the Spanish conquistadors gained control of the southern and central highlands of Guatemala. However, they met stiff opposition elsewhere and had to retreat.

The Spanish friars then asked the natives if they could introduce Christianity to the people. They agreed. Thus, the lands would fall under the control of Spain. During the 19th century, the place became known as a coffee producer. Since that time, the place has become a well known tourist destination.


Budget hotels in Guatemala cost about 4 to 5 USD. Many eateries sell two course meals for 3 to 4 USD. Majority of bus fares cost about 1 USD. Those traveling on a budget can make do with spending 15 USD a day. For more comfort, you can spend about 35 to 60 USD daily. There are of course, high end hotels available.

Other Info

If you are visiting the place for the first time, get a qualified guide. The journey can be difficult for first time visitors. The trip will usually start at Lanquin. Guides are especially necessary if you are going to enter the caves.

When you enter the caves at the Semuc Champey, you must have a candle or headlamps. You will find yourself in the waters. Eventually you will emerge into the waterfall. You have two options when coming out; you can use the ladder or climb out via a rope.