Located in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, the tiered turquoise pools of Semuc Champey are one of Guatemala’s most picturesque destinations. Although it is actually only 200 miles (321 km) northwest of Antigua, the road through the mountains is so bad that the journey usually takes at least eight hours.

The road from Lanquín to Semuc Champey is arguably one of the worst roads in Guatemala, and so, to avoid the last 45 minutes drive along a bumpy track at the end of a long day, the majority of visitors actually choose to stay in the nearby towns of Lanquín or Cobán and take a day trip out to see the pools instead.

There are a few options to get from Antigua to Lanquín/Semuc Champey, including a private car, a rental car, a tourist shuttle, or joining a multi-day tour like this 5-day Guatemala Adventure through the stunning Alta Verapaz region. 

By Private Car

Duration: 8-10+ hrs

Offering door to door service, AC, and bathroom breaks (on request), a private transfer or hired car with a driver is definitely the most comfortable way to brave the long drive from Antigua to Semuc Champey.

However, if the prospect of spending eight hours driving is enough of a struggle as it is, we highly recommend staying in Lanquín rather than pressing onto Semuc Champey. Not only does this mean cutting down your journey time on the way out, but it also means cutting it down on the way back, and, if you’re heading all the way up to Tikal, this can make a huge difference.

By Taxi or Rideshare

Duration: 8-10+ hrs

Although it is possible to take a taxi from Antigua all the way to Lanquín/Semuc Champey, the drivers will haggle hard over the price, especially if there isn’t much chance of them getting a return journey or if they will have to stay the night.

This is the same with rideshare drivers, who—if you can even find one in the first place—will often ask for much more money once you get into the car and cancel the booking if you refuse.

The majority of taxi drivers/ride shares will only take you as far as Lanquín. If you have booked accommodation in Semuc Champey then you should ask your hotel if they can provide a pick-up from the bus station.

By Rental Car

Duration: 8-10+ hrs

If you feel like braving the somewhat perilous mountain roads, then the drive out to Semuc Champey is stunning. It’s fairly easy to rent a car in Antigua—as long as you have an international driver’s license and a credit card—but one-way rentals aren’t too common in Guatemala, so bear in mind that you’ll probably have to drive back again.

You’ll also want to make sure you leave with plenty of time in the morning so you won’t be driving down the perilous road into Lanquín at dusk or trying to drive out to Semuc Champey after dark. Make sure to schedule stops to enjoy the view, and don’t forget your camera!

By Shuttle Bus

Duration: 8-10+ hrs

One of the easiest ways—aside from private transfers, of course—to get around Guatemala, tourist shuttle buses run daily from Antigua to Semuc Champey. They will pick you up from your accommodation in the city and drop you off at the bus station in Lanquín. You might have to change buses half-way through.

If you have booked accommodation in Lanquin or Semuc Champey you can contact them to arrange a pick-up from the bus station. The hotels in Lanquín are relatively spread out around the town, so we definitely recommend making a reservation before you arrive.