Where are we in Guatemala?
Utopia Eco Hotel & Hostel is about 81 miles from Guatemala City. 11 Km from Lanquin and Aprox 3 Km from Semuc Champey. We have about 700 feet / 220 meters of River Frontage along the Cahabon River. Which is great for Tubing or just relaxing on one of the large rock or take a short stroll down the path to the big swimming hole. There are at least 90 different species of birds to watch while your strolling along the many paths that have been cut though the wild flowers, coffee and cocoa trees.Getting to Utopia
There are many ways to get to your final destination of Utopia Eco Hotel, so it is always worth looking around for the best trip to suit you and your budget, but here are some tips to get you started on your trip There are several shuttles and tour operators working out of Antigua offering Daily shuttles to Lanquin Let us know your coming and we will pick you up from there. On a budget you can hop on a Public bus headed for Coban and another bus from Coban to Lanquin total cost would be around $6.00 USD. If you want to travel in a little more comfort Private transportation can be arranged for you, contact with your details and we can arrange pick up for you.
Passport / Visa
All travelers will need a passport valid for six months to enter Guatemala. No visas are required when citizens are from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, U.K. & the U.S.A.
On arrival in the country you will be issued a '1 month tourist' visa, which can be renewed each month for approx. $45 per additional month. After 3 (THREE) months you will have reached the national limit for a tourist visa and you will have to leave the country for three days. Upon return you can either carry on using your 'tourist visa' or apply for a work permit or residency.
The national currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal the US dollar is NOT widely accepted so it’s wise to have a supply of local currency on hand. There is 1 bank in Lanquin they will cash travelers checks, exchange USD but only if in excellent condition (no marks, tears or imperfections of any kind) They will NOT give cash advance’s off your Credit or Debit cards and you WILL need to present your passport to do a currency exchange in Guatemala. Please check your money / bills before leaving your current location. There are NO ATM Machines in Lanquin or the Sumec Champey area & no Credit Cards are accepted anywhere at this time.
Note: here at Utopia Eco Lodge we do accept Pay Pal & USD but again only bills in good condition. Our Exchange rate is 7.5. We are working on getting things sorted out so we can also accept credit cards but so far that has not happened. We are working on it though.
The national language of Guatemala is Spanish: Very little English is spoken so you may want to bring a dictionary or take part in our Spanish school. The Indians of this region speak mostly Q’eqchi. Because of its unique history (Alta Verapaz was never "conquered"; rather, Juan Matalbatz, the chieftain of the warlike Q'eqchi Indians, voluntarily converted to Christianity and allied himself with the Dominican priests), the indigenous people of Alta Verapaz have preserved their language and customs to a remarkable degree. The dominant language of the Alta Verapaz remains Q'eqchi, and Pocomchí, not Spanish. The Q'eqchis and Pocomchís are shy and wary of strangers, but if you can say a few words in their language, they become warm and friendly ("en-kwan-bee" means "hello"; "ban-tee-osh" means "thank you").
As you tour around Utopia you will encounter our personal security guards. Although this area is generally safe for tourists and visitors alike normal precautions should be taken. When strolling at night in remote places you need to take into account that you are in a third world location.
Weather / Climate?
The climate here is often referred to as the land of Eternal Spring so you should be prepared for a range of temperatures. The average temperature is 70 degrees. Annual rainfall of 70 inches makes the countryside green and lush. The dry season is (March through May) and can be quite warm; the winter months (December - January) very chilly and damp but when the sun comes out it warms thing right up again. Always be sure to drink plenty of water. There are no particular health hazards in highlands so no special precautions are necessary. (however it is advisable to avoid eating street food and bring along some bug spray just in case).
Clothing / Dress Code
The dress code is casual, shorts and T-shirts, bathing suits and of course and sunscreen. The sun is intense, so lightweight trousers and shirts may come in handy. Lightweight flip-flops or sandals are perfect for everyday use but if you're planning on taking part in some of our exploration adventures, then something slightly more robust will be needed. You may want to bring a pair of shoes for the river and a pair of hiking shoes or boots for the trails.
Semuc Champey is located 11km to the south of Lanquín, in a valley with steep walls, surrounded by tropical humid forest. There is a 300m long limestone bridge, on top of which there are several natural pools of different sizes, filled with crystalline mountain spring water. The pools are 3-14 ft. deep. Underneath the bridge is the Cahabón River. At the end of the bridge, the water from the pools falls rejoining the river, forming a 40ft waterfall. The color of the water changes during the year depending on the season, sun and other natural factors, making for unique picture-taking opportunities. It is a beautiful place, often called idyllic. Activities including: swimming, hiking, birdwatching, sharing time with family and friends, meditating, admiring the view from 2 overlooks and getting close to nature. Semuc Champey has a diversity of flora and fauna, including 90 species of birds, 34 mammals, 25 reptiles and amphibians; and 10 species of fish. There are more than 120 species of trees and shrubs. Bird List. Here is what The Doctor and journalist from Solola, Epaminondas Quintana, said about Semuc Champey: “we are sad to say that there is something better than Lake Atitlán and surprised that there is something better than the gulf of Río Dulce, but there is…Semuc Champey is better, given its uniqueness, more marvelous Panajachel and the Gulf of Polochic. There are magnificent lakes by the hundreds in the world, and rivers similar to Izabal. There are NO two rivers that meet like in Semuc Champey, there can’t be, not even in unexplored parts of Africa, nor in the Amazon jungle, nor in any part of the world.” Semuc Champy is a unique wonder of the World. Tourist services at Semuc Champey include: a visior's center with bathrooms / latrines, a wooden shelter near the pools, entrance fee hut, parking area. Entrance fees are: Q30 (nationals), Q50 (foreigners). Semuc Champey is open every day of the year from 8am-6pm.
If there is anything else you would like to know or something that we have not covered here then please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Utopia Eco Hotel we offer a wide range of activities; hiking, bird watching, river tubing, caving, Semuc Champey tours, or why not just relax in one of our many hammocks located on the river shore?
Everything is within your reach when you stay at Utopia!