Tranquil, tiered turquoise pools suspended over limestone are what you can expect to find when visiting Semuc Champey. A natural limestone bridge supports the pools, which change shades of turquoise due to climatic variations throughout the year.
Semuc Champey is one of Guatemala’s best-kept secrets—one that is quickly getting out. Its remote location was often bypassed for more popular and certainly more accessible destinations and sights in the country, but the turquoise pools and surrounding scenery have helped Semuc Champey garner attention from backpackers traveling between the Western Highlands and Tikal.
Despite the increase in visitors, you can still easily find a quiet spot to enjoy the tranquil pools. You can stick close and lounge (or swim) in the shallow waters, or venture off for some further exploration. A slippery path leading upstream a few hundred meters brings travelers to Río Cahabón, the river that feeds the pools. Be careful in this area as the fast-flowing river “gets lost”in the underground caves, an area called “El Sumidero.”
If you’re up for a bigger adventure, head up a pretty steep, slippery trail to the mirador, high above the pools, where you can snag postcard-type photos of the entire area.
Semuc Champey is located near the town of Lanquin in the Alta Verapaz area of Guatemala. Although there are security guards present, it is recommended not to leave belongings unattended. It is best to take an organized tour to Semuc Champey, as this prevents you from having to wait for infrequent public transportation. Pools are open 6am to 6pm daily.