The day we went to Lanquin we assumed that we were in for a normal, but long, day of driving. After much debate on route, we decided that the best course of action was to take the main highway down near Guatemala City, and then cut up into the mountains towards the city of Coban, and eventually Lanquin.
We made a terrible decision. The route projected 6 hours, a totally reasonable amount of time. In reality, it took 10. Mitch drove all of them.
It was definitely not an easy day of driving, but it ended up being one of the best days we have had on our trip. For one, it involved a great lunch at the Guatemalan equivalent of Chiles. Very pleasant atmosphere and food. And more importantly, the drive was unbelievable. Once we went up into the mountains we spent four-five hours snaking through the gorgeous Guatemalan highlands, as well as the stunning mountain city of Coban.
Our destination for the night was the tiny town of Lanquin. Tucked away high in the mountains, this rustic Mayan town was one of the favorite places that we went in the beautiful country of Guatemala. The reason that we were there was to visit Semuc Champey, a legendary natural wonder.
After a few days hanging out in the tiny town, we decided it was about time we hitched a ride down to Semuc Champey. Semuc is a national park that had recently been shut down due to intense protesting by the local population in the area, who rightly believe that they should receive greater financial benefit from the flow of tourism to the park. Little did we know at the time, but we had gotten lucky to show up to the park when we did, as it was the first day the park was open to the public for months.
Semuc Champey is amazing. A series of perfectly blue pools built deep inside a valley directly between two towering mountain walls, the beauty of the area is truly awe-inspiring. Swimming in the pools, which are created by water rising from the river that runs through caves immediately below, is lovely as a result of the perfect temperature, color, and clarity of the water. Additionally, the entire time you are swimming, these tiny little fishes come bite the skin off your toes. Like something you would pay 29.99$ for at a strange Chinese pedicure shop in the U-District of Seattle, WA.
Lanquin and Semuc Champey were one of the highlights of our time in Guatemala. The natural beauty of the area is unique in a way that isn't comparable to anywhere that we have yet been, and we know that it is somewhere that we want to return to someday.