Friday, October 2, 2009

Laquin and Semuc Champey

August 15th to 17th

The caves at Lanquin are a huge disappointment!

Not only is the footing treacherous in the extreme, every step a search for grip on rock made slick by jungle humidity and mud, but the rock formations are pathetic! Truly pathetic! I'm getting used to cave trips that 'stretch the imagination' in looking for signature formations, but Lanquin is just taking the Michael. The lighting is also incredibly bad and a girl in front of me walks straight into a stalactite, her head making the kind of dull 'thud' that turns my stomach. It's sounds like a watermelon hitting the pavement after being dropped from a second story window closely followed by groaning and cursing. I don't think she enjoyed the caves either!

If the caves are rubbish (and they really, really are) the wildlife display as the sun sets is different. It is right at the opposite end of the spectrum and is spectacular in the extreme.

Bats! Millions and millions of bats, their appetites voracious after a day spent snoozing, all wake simultaneously. Fortunately not blood sucking vampires, but insect eaters ready for an evening's hunt in mosquito infested skies above the river.


The echo location sonars burst into live and the sound of high pitch clicks and squeaks fills the air right at the topmost frequency of hearing. At first there are just hundreds circling the cave. They each wait for the hungriest and the boldest to leave and be devoured by the birds of prey waiting just beyond the cave's mouth. Then there are thousands.... and tens of thousands, and it's almost the shear weight of numbers that crowd the closest out of the door.

The sky above the river turns black as bats swirl, dive and bomb in a confused black ball of seething numbers. It helps to confuse the hawks as they attack the bat ball and draw first blood. Then hunger overcomes fear and the bats start to streak down river like tendrils of black smoke. Back inside the cave, a strobe light of camera flashes reveals uncountable winged shapes frozen in motion, their images burned onto retinas against a dark background.

It's a unnerving sensation as small fury wings and bodies occasionally brush past, unseen in the dark. Your ears feel a strange kind of numbness as you almost, but don't actually hear the cacophony of noise from the echo location. It lasts maybe an hour and Sue and Anna see a similarly less spectacular show from our camp down river as the bats bank and whirl chasing their prey.....

Some spectacle!

11 kms south of Lanquin lies Semuc Champey, described in the guide as being an 'out of the way', 'difficult to reach' destination. That's by 4 wheel drive pick up truck - we have bicis....

The road is just ridiculous.....


The gradients and lose stone are enough to see Sue walking on some of the downhills, let alone the ups....


On top of that the temperature and humidity have risen alarmingly now we have dropped to around 500m above sea level and the climbs are vertical. It's a tough, tough ride - those 11 kms (7 miles) taking over 3 hours....


As always in Guatemala though, there are views to compensate....


And the destination is more than worth the effort.

Semuc Champey means 'underground river' in Mayan, a name given after a huge chunk of the mountain fell down the side of the canyon and covered a section of the 'Cahabon' river. I say covered because the rock fell in such a way that a 300m long plate landed and formed a bridge over the flowing water. Now that bridge is covered by a series of emerald and sapphire pools separated by tranquil little waterfalls. A hike up a steep jungle trail reaches a viewpoint high above.....


Down below, it's a magical place to swim; calm and serene whilst a mighty river boils, tormented and trapped beneath us. At the head and tail of the bridge the river is a maelstrom of white water as it is forced under this rock shelf. Above, all is placid as we bob in the cooling pools....


It's a beautiful jungle oasis....


Camp is once again by the riverside....


Where we encounter all manner of insect, grown disproportionally large in the intense heat and humidity....


Dragonflies look like bi-planes, butterflies are like carrier bags flapping in the breeze and the grasshoppers are big enough to steal traffic cones....


There's yet another cave tour here to 'Las Marias Cuevas', but this one is slightly different. A hike up river takes you to a rope swing, swinging 30 feet above the river. That's just to get us in the mood and to get the adrenaline flowing. Next comes a bare foot journey along an underground river known for flash floods. In places the river runs over head height and you are forced to swim in the dark, the cavern ceiling pressing lower and lower. This is all done by candlelight - you carry the candles as you swim and climb a series of rickety ladders. It culminates in a blind traverse through a freezing waterfall.

Injuries include bruised and swollen ankles from kicking underground rocks while swimming, a bashed head or two and just a few cuts and grazes. I've mentioned Guatemalan safety standards before - it's based mainly of the survival of the fittest principles of life and it's really good fun! Boots, lights and helmets are just for wimps....

The tour ends with a relaxing float back down river on giant inner tubes through the vibrant jungle rain forest. It a door to door service back to our tents on the riverbank.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael Kors Canada Michael Kors Outlet Kevin Durant Shoes The North Face Outlet The North Face Coats Oakley Sunglasses Michael Kors Outlet Store Michael Kors Outlet Store
Kate Spade Outlet Online Michael Kors Outlet Online Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Cheap UGGs Michael Kors Outlet Online Michael kors outlet store
Prada Outlet cheap Ray ban sunglasses Hermes Birkin Oakley Sunglasses Michael Kors Outlet Stores Babyliss Straighteners Nike Free Run ray Ban sunglasses Mac Cosmetics Wholesale Louis Vuitton Outlet Online
Michael Kors Outlet Online Louis Vuitton Outlet Online Michael Kors Outlet Stores Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Jimmy Choo Shoes Online Celine Outlet

Feel free to surf to my web blog ... Chanel Handbags Outlet

jjs lin said...

burberry sacrf
burberry sale
tory burch outlet
tory burch outlet online
tory burch handbags
tory burch sandals
tory burch sale
tory burch flats
tory burch shoes
air jordan 4
air jordan 11
air jordan 13
air jordan 6
air jordan gamma blue
air jordan concord
air jordan 10
air jordan 5
air jordan 9
lebron 12
kobe bryant shoes
air max 2015
supra shoes
oakley sunglasses wholesale
oakley outlet
oakley sunglasses
oakley vault
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ray ban aviator sunglasses
ray-ban sunglasses

Wenhao Guo said...

ZD0721
san antonio spurs jerseys
the north face jackets
nike running shoes
mizuno running
spurs jersey
canada goose outlet
oakland raiders jerseys
tommy hilfiger outlet store
derrick rose jersey
raiders jerseys
north face jackets
blake griffin jersey
chelsea soccer jersey
cheap jordans
ugg boots
the north face outlet
kobe bryant shoes
chanel handbags
denver broncos jerseys

Gege Dai said...

nike air max 90
salomon shoes sale
michael kors outlet clearance
ugg boots
supra shoes
michael kors outlet
michael kors uk outlet
rolex watches
nike air force 1
burberry outlet sale
louis vuitton handbags outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet online
coach outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
longchamp handbags
canada goose jackets
lacoste pas cher
mulberry handbags
uggs clearance
cheap uggs
adidas trainers
burberry outlet
herve leger dresses
ugg boots
tiffany jewellery
rolex watches
christian louboutin outlet
basketball shoes,basketball sneakers,lebron james shoes,sports shoes,kobe bryant shoes,kobe sneakers,nike basketball shoes,running shoes,mens sport shoes,nike shoes
longchamp outlet online
tory burch sandals
hermes outlet
coach outlet store
beats by dr dre
abercrombie outlet
bottega veneta outlet
0805jianxiang

chenlina said...

ray ban sunglasses
adidas superstar
replica watches
jordan 4
louis vuitton
oakley sunglasses
ugg canada
jordan concords
coach factory outlet
ralph lauren uk
polo shirts
canada goose jackets
kobe bryant shoes
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton
lebron james shoes 13
cartier watches
rolex submariner
canada goose jackets
adidas originals
clarisonic
toms shoes
oklahoma city thunder jerseys
louis vuitton outlet
ralph lauren polo
coach outlet
fitflops
lebron 13 shoes
christian louboutin pas cher
tommy hilfiger outlet
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 4 toro
michael kors canada
ralph lauren outlet
longchamp outlet
michael kors handbags
adidas nmd
michael kors outlet
celine handbags
chenlina20160831

eric yao said...

Coach Outlet http://www.coachstoreoutlet.us.org

Christian Louboutin Shoes http://www.christianlouboutinshoe.eu.com

Valentino Shoes http://www.valentinoshoes.eu.com

Michael Kors Outlet http://www.michaelkorsoutlet.us.org

Coach Factory Outlet http://www.coachfactoryoutlet.us.org

Coach Outlet Online http://www.coachoutletonlinestore.us.org

Coach Purses http://www.coachpurse.us.com

Kate Spade Outlet http://www.katespadefactoryoutlet.us.com

Toms Shoes http://www.toms-shoes.name

Hermes Belts http://www.hermesbelts.us.org

Louis Vuitton http://www.louisvuitton-outletstores.us.com

Fendi Handbags http://www.fendibelt.us.com

Giuseppe Shoes http://www.giuseppezanotti.eu.com

Michael Kors Outlet http://www.michael-kors-outlet.us.com

Stephen Curry Shoes http://www.stephencurryshoes.us.com

Salomon Shoes http://www.salomonshoes.eu.com

North Face Outlet http://www.northfacesoutlet.in.net

Coach Outlet http://www.outletcoach.in.net

North Face Outlet http://www.northfacesoutlet.us.com

Burberry Outlet http://www.burberryoutletstore.us.org

North Face Outlet http://www.north-faceoutlets.in.net

North Face Jackets http://www.outletnorthface.in.net

Skechers Shoes http://www.skechersshoes.us.com

Toms Outlethttp://www.tomsoutletstore.us.org

North Face Outlet http://www.northfacestoreoutlet.us.org

Nike Air Max http://www.nikeoutlet.us.org

Nike Hoodies http://www.nikehoodies.us.com

Marc Jacobs Handbags http://www.marcjacobshandbags.name

Marc Jacobs Outlet http://www.marcjacobsoutletstore.us.com

Jimmy Choo Shoes http://www.jimmy-chooshoes.us.com

Jimmy Choos http://www.jimmychoos.in.net

Burberry Belt http://www.burberrybelt.us.com

Louis Vuitton Belt http://www.louisvuitton-belt.com

Salvatore Ferragamo http://www.ferragamo-belt.us.com

Marc Jacobs Handbags http://marcjacobshandbagsoutlet.blog.com

Lululemon Outlet http://www.lululemonsoutlet.us.com

True Religion Outlet http://www.truereligion-outlets.in.net

Tommy Hilfiger http://www.tommyhilfigeroutlet.us.com

Michael Kors Outlet http://www.outletmichaelkors.eu.com

Coach Outlet http://www.outletcoach.eu.com

Red Bottoms http://www.redbottom.in.net

Kevin Durant Shoes http://www.kevindurantshoes.us.org

New Balance Outlet http://www.newbalanceoutlet.in.net

Adidas Outlet http://www.adidasoutlet.in.net

Coach Outlet Online http://www.coachoutlet-online.eu.com

Stephen Curry Jersey http://www.stephencurryjersey.us.com

Vans Outlet http://www.vansoutlet.us.com

Ralph Lauren Outlet http://www.ralphlauren-outletstore.in.net

True Religion Outlet http://www.true-religionoutlets.in.net

ED Hardy Outlet http://www.edhardyoutlet.in.net

North Face Outlet http://www.northfaceoutlet.eu.com

UGG Outlet http://www.uggoutlet.us.org

UGG Outlet http://www.outletugg.in.net

North Face Outlet http://www.northface--outlet.us.com

Ugg Boots Sale http://www.uggbootssale.in.net

UGGS For Women http://www.uggsforwomen.us.com

Skechers Go Walk http://www.skechersgowalk.us.com

Adidas Yeezy Boost http://www.adidasyeezyboost.in.net

Adidas Yeezy http://www.adidasyeezy.us.com

Adidas NMD http://www.adidas-nmd.us.org

Coach Outlet http://www.coachoutletinc.us.com