To and from Semuc Champey
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Aug 8, 2012 5:20 AM Last Post By: RobertoGustavo
Aug 3, 2012 10:05 AM
To and from Semuc ChampeyHola chicos
I'm struggling (like most people) in finding a decent way of getting through Guatemala from Honduras. I'll be leaving Utila and probably stopping for a day in Copan Ruinas. What's the best (quickest, easiest, cheapest) way of getting from Copan Ruinas to Semuc Champey?
Would it then be possible to get from Semuc Champey to Lago de Atitlan in a day? Travelling is the hardest part of 'travelling'!
Aug 3, 2012 7:09 PM
1Not too sure about the first half of your query but as for the second part, you can definitely get from Semuc Champey to Lake Atitlan in a day. Transfers will usually go via Antigua but it is just a couple of hours from there.
Also, you need to figure out if you will be staying at Semuc Champay itself or in Lanquin. Most stay in Lanquin which is about an hour's drive each way from Semuc Champay itself. Most transfers will leave from Lanquin.
Aug 3, 2012 9:20 PM
2Take the ferry to La Ceiba. Take the Hedman Alas bus from there to Copan Ruinas and then on to Guatemala City. In Guatemala City you can get a bus to Coban. From there you can either take a bus or a shuttle to Semuc Champey, back to uatemala City and on to Antigua.
There are shorter and less expensive ways to do this but unless your Spanish is really good it would be kind of complicated.
Aug 4, 2012 4:49 AM
3I went from Honduras to Semuc Champey in April/May of this year. I made the mistake of coming up the back way from El Estor to Semuc. I did so because I wanted to spend time at Rio Dulce, which I love. The roads are bad as you go upland and I missed a connection and was stuck spending the night in an awful place.
If you are not taking a tourist shuttle, the best place to get a connection to Lanquin (and on to Semuc) would be Coban, Guatemala. Semuc Champey is lovely...but is it worth the hassle to get to?....having done it, the jury is still out in my mind. I stayed at El Portal, which is within walking distance to the site.
And coming from Copan in Honduras, I would not go all the way to Guatemala City and back out to Semuc. (But Pan is right that more direct local bus connections would require Spanish and a knowledge of the lay of the land.) But maybe you will get a helpful bus attendant who will show you where to change so you don't have hours of needless travel. Look on your map, there is a junction after Rio Hondo as you come from Copan. I went through it, alot of buses stopping and stands selling drinks and such. The name of the junction "town" escapes me...maybe someone else here remembers it.
In answer to your question about getting from Semuc to Atitlan in a day: Yes, it is possible but it would be more than I would want to do in one day. It is a long road trip. I think just getting from Semuc to Coban is long enough for me! Why not spend overnight in Guatemala City? There are plenty of inexpensive hotels and the Centro Historico is having a wonderful comeback. The main deluxe bus line from Coban (Monja Blanca) has frequent departures to Guate and leaves you right next to a couple of nice budget places to stay.
Guatemala seems like a small country compared to some others. Until you try getting from place to place. Allow yourself plenty of time.
Aug 4, 2012 6:16 PM
4Additional notes: I looked it up and the place where you can change your bus coming from the Honduras borders and going to Coban for Semuc is called EL RANCHO.
By the way, going this way you will be passing th Biotopo del Quetzal. I once spent overnight at the Ranchito there. Basic, friendly and it can get cold at night up there! The family running the place is wonderful. I was not lucky enough to spot a Quetzal bird although I got up before dawn to do so! I did see a Highland Guan and a Trogon, however. Anyway, enjoy Guatemala...it has so much to offer.
Edited by: RobertoGustavo
Aug 5, 2012 6:38 AM
5You can take Hedman Atlas from Ceiba all the way to Copan and onto Antigua. Lots of bus time but their busses have been pretty good in my experience. Then grab a shuttle in Antigua. May or may not be the best/shortest way but I've done it this way and it was fine. Enjoy your trip!
Aug 5, 2012 10:58 AM
6If you look at the map you'll see that Copan ruins are located not very far from the border. So, crossing the border at El Florido you can easily get to Chiquimula. From there you should be able to find plenty of GC bound transportation that take CA-9. And if you get off at the turn off to Coban (El Rancho) you'll be about 2-3 hours from Coban. In fact the Monja Blanca buses which have hourly service to Coban make their lunch stop right there. And that would save you the hassle of having to backtrack to GC or paying Hedman Alas an arm and a leg for a ticket. Now, IMO to get to lake Atitlan from Semuc Champey, the fastest and less complicted way would be to go via Coban/Uspantan/Santa Cruz del Quiche/Chichicastenango. From reading recent feedbak on this forum, the stretch of road near Chicaman where the landslides that buried the route happened a few years ago it's passable and it's safe too because of all the construction work they've been doing on that road. Oherwise I guarantee you going through GC can be hell because nowadays it's not easy to figure out where to catch the chicken buses to Atitlan. And BTW armed hold ups are frequent on chicken buses on the route to Antigua and Atitlan. The other option would be to catch a first class bus that can you drop off at Los Encuentros, the turn off to Panajachel. And then catch one of the many buses going down to Solola/Panajachel. You could take Galgos, Linea Dorada or Alamo. Two of them have their own terminals downtown in zone one. The only drawback doing it this way is that it'll probably be dark by the time you get to Los Encuentros. Good luck.
Aug 6, 2012 2:27 PM
7Thanks for all your comments. To be honest, moving around Central America sounds horrific! My naivety told me that such a small country would be very manageable. You're right, I have to very much think whether Semuc Champey is worth it. I have about 25 days to head from Managua to Guatemala City (big rush I know). Think I might just concentrate on Antigua and Atitlan in Guatemala and plan to see the northern areas another time...
...although you never know, a last minute decision to change buses could lead me anywhere!
Aug 6, 2012 5:44 PM
8I don't think anyone wants to discourage you and certainly 25 days for your trip is more than many people plan, so I do hope you will think it over. Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best.
For me, as I've mentioned, getting to Semuc up the back way was a hassle but it would not be so bad if I took a tourist shuttle (and they are available, too). But even taking a broken down old bus with people sitting on the roof up steep unpaved mountain paths was an adventure, as it was to arrive in a far flung town that sees few tourists and find I've missed the only connection and the one terrible little hotel in town is full. Someone will always rent out a room. I have lived and am richer for it. So go where your heart tells you.
Aug 6, 2012 11:04 PM
9A completely different idea, maybe you like it: We are thinking about going from La Ceiba to Livingston by bus & ferry and continue to Cobán via Rio Dulce. From there you should easily get to Semuc Champey. It might be possible to have 1-2-day-trip from Cobán to Copán Ruinas, but we have not yet searched for this. We have not yet figured out the details from Livingston to Cobán, but I think it should be doable.
Edited by: roddy1984
Aug 7, 2012 8:07 AM
10Yes it's doable. You can go from Livingston or Puerto Barrioss via the town of Fronteras/Rio Dulce to El Estor
and from there to Semuc Champey. Take a look at this area map http://www.cobanav.net/map_av.php
The problem from what I understand is that some of those roads are still not paved and in bad shape during the rainy season. And I guess that's reason why chicken buses/micro-buses don't run very frequently. So it could very well take you longer than going via El Rancho. But if you're adventurous and have enough time then it's a route worth exploring.
Aug 8, 2012 5:20 AM
11Yes, I went up from El Estor to Semuc. I have heard there is one daily tourist shuttle leaving from Rio Dulce in the afternoon but I didn't use it. The on line bus schedule listed several departures from El Estor to Cahabon taking 2 hours, however I found this not to be true at all! When I got to the main bus stop in El Estor (Parque Central) I was told the ONE bus to Cahabon leaves "maybe at 9, maybe at 10 or 11" and it takes five hours. The road is horrible, if you can call it a road once you get up in the mountains. Still El Estor is a lovely lakeside place and there are several nice hotels. It is also possible to take a bus from El Estor and change along the way for Cahabon. But doing it again I would go back out the paved road way via El Rancho and Coban. It is a big detour in kilometers but the road moves unlike these mountain paths which may be useless if it rains.
In Cahabon, there are mini buses to Lanquin where you can change for Semuc. Be aware the last afternoon trip from Cahabon to Lanquin is at 3pm and that bus company will not take more passengers than they have seats (this is not normal for Guatemala!). So you might be stuck in Cahabon overnight. I don't look Guatemalan, and people in Cahabon looked at me like a strange creature from outer space had come to town. I found one restaurant, which served one dish. The decor was "early sewer". Dinner ends at 5pm.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$190.00 per night
San SalvadorBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$113.52 per night
Islita AreaBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$302.75 per night