Lanquin is a little mountain town in the province of Alta Verapaz. And no matter where you are coming from, getting there is not easy (read: a long, bad and bumby road, that can take hours). But a visit to Lanquin is something you simply can’t miss. It is your gateway to one of the most stunning environments, such as Semuc Champey, viewpoints overlooking a lush jungle, adventurous caves with thousands of bats and opportunities for tubing and rafting. Find everything you want to know about what to do in Lanquin, including tips for hotels, best time to visit, the famous Lanquin caves and things to do in Semuc Champey, the natural wonder of Guatemala.
What to do in Lanquin and Semuc Champey Guatemala? 8 x useful tips
Things to do in Semuc Champey Guatemala
The first thing you read when you come across Lanquin is Semuc Champey. Semuc Champey is a national park, hidden in the mountains of Guatemala, with a series of naturally formed water basins, consisting of crystalclear turquoise river water. It is surrounded by steep mountain cliffs and a lush jungle vegetation. It’s breathtaking and you can easily spend the entire day here.
Make sure you hike all the way up to the viewpoint! It’s one of the best things to do in Semuc Champey because of the incredible top view of the surroundings. I found it interesting to go together with a guide, to learn more about the different trees, medicinal plants and herbs. But it’s an easy hike you can also do by yourself!
Make sure to take a picture of the national flower of Guatemala, La Monja Blanca (the white nun), a nice orchid. Depending on the weather conditions you will find her open or closed (closed in my case). After the walk you can go for a lovely swim in the pools and scramble from one to another. There are lockers available to store your belongings. But even if you don’t feel like swimming, there are so many nice spots to just sit and enjoy the area.
How to get to Semuc Champey Guatemala?
It is best to get to Semuc Champey from Lanquin by pickup truck. Just like the Veracruz locals. You’ll stand in the tailgate and while holding on tight, you’ll be able to enjoy the green surroundings along the way, with cocoa, coffee and banana plantations. It is only 11 kilometers, but the trip takes about an hour.
It is possible to go from Lanquin to Semuc Champey with a local guide (on a tour) or go by yourself. Tours are often offered in hotels for a small rate. Or, just walk to the main street of Lanquin in the morning and you’ll find many trucks driving to Semuc Champey Guatemala. These pickups can also be found at the entrance of Semuc Champey to take you back to Lanquin after your visit.
Tip: try to avoid the weekends. It can be incredibly busy with local families. A nice experience to mingle with the locals but it will be hard to find a quiet spot.
Lanquin caves Guatemala
The Lanquin caves are located on the outskirts of the village and make a nice trip at the end of the day. Especially because you’ll be able to see thousands of bats flying out of the cave around sunset. It’s pretty fascinating! At first you will only see a few, but it feels like they multiply every second, as it gets darker.
The cave itself is also worth exploring. There are several rock formations in the shape of animals, including a former Mayan shrine where local people still go to do their ceremonies. It is large and well-lit wich makes it easy to walk around. Just keep in mind that it is very slippery, whether it has rained or not. Make sure to put on solid shoes and walk carefully.
Tip: The Lanquin caves can be reached by tuk tuk or within half an hour walking from the plaza in Lanquin Guatemala. It is best to head that way around 4:30 PM so you have time to explore the cave, before the bats start flying out around 6:00 PM, (depending on the sunset).
Explore the adventurous Lanquin K’an Ba Caves Guatemala
The Lanquin K’an Ba Caves, near Semuc Champey Guatemala, are one of the most adventurous caves I have ever visited. And, certainly not for everyone! In this water cave you go on an adventure with only your bathing suit on and a candle in your hands. It is humid, dark and you only see the light of the burning candles. In many places you walk through the water up to your waist and sometimes even up to your neck. You move through the water, slide along ladders and climb over rocks for about an hour. A unique trip that you won’t be able to experience in many other places! And therefore recommended! Unless you are claustrophobic.
Where I love to go on certain tours over and over again. This was a one-timer, as I found it quite intense. Especially because of the humidity and the fact that you have no idea where you are and where you walk. The Lanquin K’an Ba caves can best be visited together with Semuc Champey. Many tours offer a combined visit.
Tip: Make sure to put on solid and comfortable shoes. As you walk over rocks and are not able to see them, you can easily get hurt. The rocks are really slippery and sharp. I always travel with good water shoes and they come in handy in places like this.
What to do in Lanquin town?
Lanquin doesn’t have many things to do. Lanquin really is your starting-point to explore the caves and surrounding area. But, it is nice to walk around the village and observe daily life. There is a lot going around the plaza, market and little streets.
Go on a hike | what to do in Lanquin area?
Do you have more time? One of the best things to do in Lanquin area, is to go for a beautiful walk. Because there are few clear hiking trails, it is recommended to head out with a good guide and walk to one of the viewpoints. Most hotels like Zephyr Lodge Lanquin and El Retiro lodge offer these type of guides.
Tubing & rafting
One of the best things to do in the Lanquin area is tubing. You take your seat in a large tire and just float on the river, while passing local houses and communities. Tubes are available at the entrance of Semuc Champey, but you can also book a trip in Lanquin and tube on the river below. It is a relaxed activity that requires little effort. Also, the Río Cahabón is one of the best places in Guatemala for rafting and kayaking, (includes different levels). It is one of the best things to do if you are looking for some adventure around Lanquin.
Although Lanquin is a small town, you will find several nice hotels. My favorite place is the Zephyr lodge. This hotel, with infinity pool, is located on a mountain and offers the most amazing 360 degree views over the valley and the river below. You are surrounded by greenery and flowers but also able to walk into the small town within 5 minutes.
I love staying in smaller scale hotels with beautiful interiors, a nice atmosphere and convenient location. In addition, I like to support the locals and love a sustainable approach around a hotel. Curious about my favorite hotels to stay in Guatemala? This is an overview with the most beautiful hotels to stay in Guatemala, sorted by city and region.
Keep in mind that The Zephyr lodge in Lanquin is a hostel type of hotel (meaning backpackers and parties around the pool) but there is a number of simple private rooms with nice views. There is also a restaurant. Nothing fancy but good meals. And if you want to know what to do in Lanquin, there is plenty of staff to help you out, as many economic tours to the Lanquin Caves and Chemuc Champey are offered. Other recommended lodges in Lanquin are Vista Verde and El Retiro.
Check the availability and latest rates of The Zephyr lodge here.
How to reach Lanquin?
It is a long road from Antigua to Lanquin and from Panajachel (Lake Atitlán) to Lanquin. And the traveling time is much longer than you will hear upfront. From both Flores and Antigua to Lanquin, a journey takes between 7 and 10 hours. Shuttle buses (minivans) run daily from Antigua, which can be booked at small travel agencies. To Guatemala City, depending on the type of transportation and traffic, the journey takes approximately 6 to 7 hours. You can take a bus to Cobán and change to a local bus to Lanquin. I have traveled a lot with private transportation, but there are shared shuttle services offered everywhere.
Planning to visit the beautiful city of Antigua? Have a look in my extensive travel guide with many tips and things to do in Antigua and surroundings.
In my opinion, the road from Río Dulce to Lanquin, is the nicest, a drive of about 6 hours. Along the way, you are able to enjoy the rural life, as you pass so many small communities. Moreover, you can enjoy amazing views.
Extra tip: Do you want to break the journey from Guatemala city or Antigua to Lanquin? Make a stop in El Biotopo de Quetzal, the habitat of the quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala. Simple overnight locations that offer easy access to the reserve are Ranchitos del Quetzal and Posada Montaña del Quetzal.
Best time to visit Lanquin and Chemuc Champey Guatemala
The best travel time for Lanquin and Chemuc Champey are the months of November to March / April. It rains less often and the water of the river is clear. But this is also the most busy season. Outside this season, there will be a bigger chance of rain, but there will be less people.
Pin the Semuc Champey & Lanquin for later
More about Guatemala
Do you want to read more about beautiful Guatemala? In this article you’ll find the 20 best things to do in Guatemala, including off the beaten path destinations, best time to travel, travel itineraries and information about safety. Have a look in the Guatemala archive for a cityguide for Antigua and travel guides about Lake Atitlan, the famous market of Chichicastenango, the Acatenango volcano hike, a boat trip on the Rio Dulce to Caribbean Livingston and a Guatemala hotel guide. Interested in archaeology? In this article I’m taking you to the Maya ruins of Tikal and Quiriguá, a smaller and less visited Maya site with beautiful Maya stelae.