Semuc Champey in Guatemala is a special place. Limestone rock pools cascade through a canyon in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, surrounded by lush green. Semuc is in the middle of nowhere, at least an 8-hour journey from Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala City, or Flores, so it isn’t possible to visit Semuc Champey on a day trip. You need to stay at least two nights here, to allow for a day’s travel, sleep overnight at Semuc Champey or nearby Lanquín, visit the pools, stay overnight again, then continue your journey elsewhere the following day. There are several options for Semuc Champey hostels and hotels in and close to Semuc Champey, so I’ve put together this list of what I think are the best hostels in Semuc Champey.
Where to Stay at Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is the name of the natural park in the Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala. When you visit Semuc Champey, you could stay in a hostel walking distance to the park, which is convenient for visiting the beautiful pools, but the nearest town is about 45 minutes away.
Lanquín is the nearest town to Semuc Champey and is where most of the hostels are. In the little town there are a few shops and restaurants but not much else to see or do. Even if you stay in Lanquín, the hostels usually provide everything you might need.
Coban is a major town, which is about 2 hours’ drive from Lanquín, and a further 45 minutes or so to the park at Semuc Champey. If you are travelling by chicken bus, not with a tourist shuttle, you may need to break your journey here in Coban. Otherwise, the shuttle buses from Flores, Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City will take you directly to Lanquín.
The Best Hostels in Semuc Champey Guatemala
Quick Reference Guide:
- The Best Hostel Walking Distance to Semuc Champey: Greengo’s
- The Best Semuc Champey Hostel for Chilling Out: El Retiro
- The Best Party Hostel in Semuc Champey – Zephyr Lodge
- The Best Semuc Champey Hostel with a Pool – Hostal Vista Verde
- The Best Hostel in Semuc Champey to Get Away from It All – Ch’i Bocól
The Best Hostel Walking Distance to Semuc Champey: Greengo’s
Greengo’s Hostel is just 500 metres from the entrance to the park, so is in a great location for visiting the pools at Semuc Champey. The hostel also emphasizes working with the local community and nearby dog shelter, so is a great choice for a sustainable hostel. There are mixed dorms here and private rooms, many of which have balconies facing the creek which runs through the property. There is a volleyball court and a ping pong table to keep guests entertained, as well as an onsite bar and restaurant. As it is quite a distance from town, Greengo’s makes sure you have everything you might need at the hostel which means you can sit back and relax! It is also the highest-rated hostel in Semuc Champey. Check the reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Best Semuc Champey Hostel for Chilling Out: El Retiro
I stayed at the more chilled out El Retiro Lanquín, which offers private rooms and dorms, and is right by the river so you can swim there instead. The dorms were basic, and smelled a little damp, but the setting was beautiful. The dorms were in individual hut-type buildings dotted around the hillside above the river. You can eat all your meals here and not need to leave the hostel grounds – there is a simple but well-selected breakfast & lunch menu, and a themed buffet dinner every night. Breakfast & lunch costs around 25-30 quetzals, and the lunch buffet was 50-60 Q. The buffets included lots of vegetables too, so it was great to get some vitamins! They also have a bar on site with drinks offers and a ping pong table, pool table, and swings to relax on. I really enjoyed my stay here, and at 50 Q a night for a dorm bed you can’t go wrong! Watch out for offers, sometimes they have a 241 or 342 offer on dorm night prices. Check the reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Best Party Hostel in Semuc Champey – Zephyr Lodge
Zephyr Lodge in Lanquín is definitely more of a party hostel than the others, and it used to be legendary for the beautiful views and an infinity swimming pool. However, lately the reviews are a mixed bag; travellers complain about bugs in the rooms and getting sick (possibly from the river or possibly from something at the hostel). However, other reviews still rave about the social vibe and the location, so check out the recent reviews to decide for yourself before you book. Check reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Best Semuc Champey Hostel with a Pool – Hostal Vista Verde
Hostal Vista Verde is one of the newer hostels in Lanquín, and one of the few which has a beautiful swimming pool and incredible views from all around the hostel. As far as I can tell it is the only hostel in Lanquín which is fully owned and operated by Guatemalans. There are dorm rooms and private rooms, in the private rooms there are mosquito nets provided. As with the other hostels, there is a restaurant on site and wi-fi available. The real draw is watching the sunset from the swimming pool! Check reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Best Hostel in Semuc Champey to Get Away from It All – Ch’i Bocól
Ch’i Bocól Community Hostel really is off the beaten track – the shuttles won’t drop you off here, it is a 30-minute hike from Lanquín to get to the hostel. However, once you are there, the pristine Guatemalan jungle surrounds the hostel, and you have gorgeous views of the mountainside. There is river access here too, so you can cool off after the hike here. There is a kitchen where you can prepare your own food (if you can carry it there!) or there is a restaurant on site with reasonably priced cooked dishes to choose from. It is cash only, so take out any money you might need in Coban before you get to Lanquín. Most accommodation is in dorm rooms, but there are some private rooms available too. Check reviews on Tripadvisor.
Airbnb in Semuc Champey
In addition to the hostels in Semuc Champey, there are also several options for Airbnb in Semuc Champey. Some of the Semuc Champey hostels have simply listed their available rooms on Airbnb, or there are a few different private options as well.
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $40 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
Things to Remember for Visiting Semuc Champey
Wherever you choose to stay to visit Semuc Champey, remember that the reason you are there is for the pools in the natural park. The location is rural, so most of the accommodation options here are quite rustic but certainly beautiful.
Most of the Semuc Champey hostels run on generators, so may turn off the electricity at certain times of the day or night. A [amazon_textlink asin=’B0194WDVHI’ text=’portable charger’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e87c1267-ae97-11e8-9688-8f943533c722′] is handy if you don’t want to risk running out of battery for your phone. Most hostels have wi-fi, which again may be switched off at certain times of the day.
There is a cash machine in Lanquín, but it is best to bring cash with you for your stay. Due to the remote location a lot of the hostels are cash only, or should they have problems with their credit card machine you will want to be prepared.
Every hostel will be able to arrange a Semuc Champey tour for you, or you may choose to visit independently, especially if you are walking distance away from the park. Check out this post for full details about Semuc Champey, and whether it is better to go with a tour or visit Semuc Champey independently.
How to Get to Semuc Champey Guatemala
The easiest way to get to Semuc Champey is to take a tourist shuttle. Shuttles run every day from Flores to Lanquín, and from Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala to Lanquín, where pick-up trucks will then drop you off at your hotel or hostel. All shuttles stop off briefly in Coban, then carry on to Lanquín. With prices starting from 100 quetzales it doesn’t work out much more expensive than taking the chicken buses, and it is a lot quicker. Even so, it still takes at least 8-9 hours from either city, and the shuttles always travel by day. I left Flores at 8am and arrived in Lanquín (the closest town to Semuc Champey) at around 5pm, and when travelling on to Antigua, I left Lanquín at 8am, and arrived in Antigua at 6pm. Take the earliest possible shuttle to get to Semuc Champey hopefully before it goes dark. As a lot of the hostels are quite remote, getting there if you arrive in Lanquín too late will be very difficult, or even impossible.
***WARNING: ONLY BUY YOUR ONWARD SHUTTLE TICKET FROM YOUR HOTEL OR HOSTEL IN LANQUÍN. THERE ARE SCAMMERS ON THE SHUTTLES FROM FLORES TO LANQUÍN WHO WILL SELL YOU FAKE TICKETS FOR YOUR ONWARD JOURNEY, BUT NO SHUTTLE TURNS UP***
Bear in mind that the road in both directions is very windy almost all the way. If you suffer from motion sickness, like I do, I recommend taking tablets or another method of reducing the effects, made worse by crazy drivers! I had 2 of my tablets, wore my acupressure bands, and managed to negotiate a seat at the front, which helped a lot. On the plus side, some of the views of the Guatemalan countryside from Flores to Semuc Champey are quite spectacular!
Have you been to Semuc Champey? Which is your favourite hostel in Semuc Champey? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.
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