We were dsiaponted when we left BC that Memo chose not to come out say goodbye to us, and Ty thought that his behaviour as someone who had grown up in a western country was the height of rudeness. Learning our lesson again that things always run on island time, we were at the bus station at 7.20 for our 7.30 departure, only to actually be on the bus and heading south at 8.45.

The next stop on our journey was Lanquin, a tiny mountain town, and the jumping off point for  Semuc Champey, one of Guatemalas best natural features.

We were lucky in that there were only 7 of us in the collective so we had a bit of space to spread out. The roads through Guatemala are very windy, and the country is much more mountainous than I had expected. Driving through the jungle it was a lot more like what I had expected, but had not seen, in Belize. We had our first experience of a (very small) river crossing by ferry across the river in a town which seemed big enough to warrant a bridge being built. But this is Guatemala, nothing is ever as you expect it to be!

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River crossing
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Guatemalan style
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Inside the caves with our candle
Despite the scenery, neither of us enjoy travel days very much so we were glad to finally arrive at Zephyr Lodge at 5pm. The final 11km from Coban is along an extremely bumpy, extremely steep metal road which I am surprised vehicles can get up and down during the rainy season (although our guide the next day assures me they do!). There is no wifi or ATMs as the town is properly in the wop wops, but the lodge has a great relaxed feel about. Kim and Barry in Caye Caulker had recommended the place to us and its no wonder it fills up fast as it is set on the ridge of a valley allowing views of the sun setting to one side and the river on the other.

The following day we were up for a tour to Semuc Champey, the reason for our visit to the area.

Hopping in the back of the pick up truck, we bumped our way along another 9km of metal road before arriving at the Grutas K’anba (K’anda Caves). The caves are privately owned but Zephyr Lodge has permission for guides to take people inside and we spent a couple of fun hours exploring, sliding and swimming through them, with candles lighting our way. Ty even jumped off a rock into a very narrow pool but I was way too chicken!

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Crazy man Ty jumping inside the cave...
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and off the rope swing...
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and off the bridge...
After the caves we were given the opportunity for a rope swing and then a bridge jump. Eager beaver Tyro was the first to go on both of them, but I was in scaredy pants mode so stayed on the safety of the bank as photographer. By the end of the day I had actually phsyced myself into doing the bridge jump and was quite looking forward to it but our van had arrived early to pick us up so I missed my chance.

Semuc Champey is a 300m long limestone bridge, on top of which are a series of pools which are good for swimming. The water rises from the Rio Cahabon and most of it passes beneath the bridge, plunging out the other side. It is an impressive spectacle. Arriving at the entrance to the park we all hiked about 30 minutes straight up to get a birds eye view of the pools. Man it was steep! After lunch at the top we made our way cautiousy back down and into the pools for a much needed swim! You can visit the point where the river flows under the bridge, but after a few stupid tourists fell off and got flushed through, theres a permanent guard on duty who ensures you keep your distance from the edge.

I was already to spend a few hours relaxing in the water when suddenly I felt something nip at my leg…. What the hell was that!? Fabulous…. Its those fish that like to nibble at your dead skin. I know people pay top dollar for fish pedicures but its not for me and it was pretty hard to relax after that as any time you stop moving they sidle on in! fortunately for me our guide decided to show us some fun natural sides along the pools so we went off adventuring. 
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Semuc Champey
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Looking down on it after a steep climb up
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Weeeeee!
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Hanging at the pools
On the bumpy ride back to the hostel we all decided to channel the Guatemalan way of standing up in the back of the truck. They sure know what they are doing it was a lot more comfortable than sitting down! Even if our tired arms did get a bit of a workout holding on!

Tired but happy back at the hostel we joined some of the others for a few drinks and a casual game of corn hole. Sounds dirty but was a lot of clean fun and myself and another aussie girl quickly became champions, knocking the former undefeated team off their top spot :)

I would have liked to have spent another couple of days relaxing in the hills, but the ‘tab’ system that the lodge runs would easily get away on us and we need to start moving south or we will run out of days (not to mention money!)

Next stop: Antigua
 





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