Thursday, July 11, 2013

The OTO Underground

Its not every weekend that we are lucky enough to make it out to the sleepy mountain town of Lanquin, but when we do, it certainly always puts a smile on our faces.  This past weekend was that weekend.

The drive to get there is long, but once you leave the congestion of Guatemala City behind the scenery changes and so does your mood.  Along the way we stopped off to break up the drive with a cool hike to a remote waterfall for a picnic lunch and a swim.  This part of Guatemala is incredible!  Full of rivers, waterfalls, big hills and more shades of green that you thought was possible,and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the elusive Quetzal.

After an hour at the swim hole, we loaded up and pushed further into the back-country and finally made it to Lanquin just in time to pull into the local cave system to watch thousands of bats come pouring out at sunset.
After checking into our digs for the night at El Retiro  we had a drink down by the river and then headed over to pour friends place at  The Zephyr Lodge for good eats and and some quality time overlooking the river.

This being a 4 day trip we are definitely able to take advantage of all the amazing things there are to do in the this adventure travelers play ground.  The limestone geology of the Lanquin area means that rivers and caves abound.  We stopped into the Lanquin caves and crawled our way past where the lights end and tourist trail stops.  Here we found ourselves at the edge of a dark cliff.  Our headlamps just barely making out the stalagmites at the bottom some 50 feet below.  We set up the repel and headed down into that dark cavern below.  There's something special about lowering off tierra firma and dropping into the unknown.

Our next objective was the cave system of Can Ba.  Can Ba is a water cave so we pull on wetsuits to be able to go well past the candle holding bikini clad tourists and push deep inside the mountain.  Up and over waterfalls, swimming dark channels, and scaling around rock formations we plunged some 3 hours into this seemingly never ending cave until we came to our turn around time at "La Playa" a nice sandy beach inside the cave where we had lunch.

Emerging back out into the warm sunlight we strolled across the Cahabon River to the pools of Semuch Champey.  This is a place like no other!  A raging river disappears under a limestone mesa formed by multiple creeks that have dropped their mineral loads forming the terraced pools of Semuc Champey.  Each pool cascades into the next before returning to the raging torrent of the Cahabon exiting the cave formed by la mesa.

This place is worthy of a National Geographic cover!  We soaked up the warm sun and lounged on the rocks separating the pools until thoroughly water-logged.  We headed back over the bumpy road to Lanquin for a huge Mexican BBQ feast at the lodge and fell into hammocks for the rest of the evening.

If you got a few days and want to see a unique part of Guatemala, a world away, underground, floating rivers, and chasing the Quetzal, this is your place.  Get in touch with us at the shop and we'll pull a trip together for you.

See ya out on the trail or perhaps under it...


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