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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Written by Raenelle on Thursday, November 20, 2003

We went to the hot springs this morning (the hot waterfall) only to discover that it wasn’t all that hot! It rained alot last night, and so although the falls were hot, the river below the falls was quite cold because a Waterfallscold river joined it right beneath the falls. Quite disappointed and intent on enjoying the warm water, we walked downstream a little way and crossed the river and hiked upstream above the waterfall. We were delighted to discover a gorgeous little winding stream, warm as bathwater, and we eagerly hopped in for an hour or so. We then headed off into the mountains towards some natural pools called Semuc Champey. It took about 4 1/2 hours of driving through high mountain passes with winding, narrow dirt roads at 20kph to reach Semuc. In the meantime, we were treated to breathtaking views of the jungle, and numerous small mountain villages with traditional indians. Much of the land has been cleared for growing corn, and it’s amazing to see the steep slopes that these people use for agriculture. When we arrived at Semuc Champey, we found a little lodge/restuarant to camp. There are many international travellers here, so it will be an interesting change for us as we haven’t been around other gringos much.

Swimming Through the Caves

This morning, we went on a cave tour, and had the most amazing time. We hiked up a small hill to the cave entrance, where we all stripped down to our bathing suits and headlamps. The entire cave system was filled with water, so it was necessary to swim most of the way. We swam into the dark cave and had to navigate our way through small openings in the cave where only our head could fit above the water. Definitely not for the claustrophobic! We got out the water and pulled our way up a small rocky cliff with a rope, then swam for a bit more before coming to a waterfall. The waterfall was not too tall, only about 4m, but the water level was high and water was gushing over the falls. It was necessary to pull ourselves up the centre of the waterfall with a rope in order to reach the upper part of the cave and explore some more. It was great fun, and we even got to see some bats that were flying around inside the cave.

In the afternoon, we relaxed and chatted with some people at the lodge and got to know a really great couple, Ben and Lisa. They are travelling around the world on their sailboat for the next 10 years and have spent the last year in Mexico. We had a good time chatting to them, and to Mireille and Brandon (from Quebec) while relaxing in our hammock. In the evening, we played cards until late, and then hit the sack for the night.

The Cascading PoolsSemuc Champay

Today, we got up early and went to the wonderful natural pools called Semuc Champey. There is a long limestone bridge that covers about 300m of a river. The river rushed into a tunnel at the top of the bridge, and the water passes underneath the bridge, emerging at the downstream end at a tall waterfall. On the top of the natural limestone bridge is a number of natural pools which are turquoise in colour, and which are fed by a number of small rivers from the mountains.

We walked around the area and also hiked to the top of a small mountain to the lookout where there was an amazing view of the pools. We headed back to the lodge and packed up after a wonderful breakfast. Then Lisa, Ben, Mireille, Brandon, Robin and I headed back to the pools for a swim. We floated around in inner-tubes and soaked up some sun before heading out of town in the afternoon.

Bat CaveWe stayed overnight at a small town about 15km from the pools, and went to some caves just outside town at sunset. At the entrance of the cave, we sat for about 45 minutes as thousands of bats flew past us, navigating their way through small crevices, between people, and without hitting each other to the outside! At night, we donated some diesel to a poi dancer (they swing fireballs on the end of chains – just like Desre did at our reception in July), and we all sat around the campfire watching her show and chatting.

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