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Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

New York City, New...
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Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

I just got back from my second trip to Guatemala and thought I'd share some tips. I traveled with a friend, both females in our late 20s.

We chose to stay at the Black Cat hostel this time. Last time, we stayed at Jungle Party and at Kafka. None of these hostels are amazing, but Black Cat has the best social scene and breakfast. The bathrooms could use some work.

Jungle Party has a bad layout, bad breakfast, whatever staff, and is pretty run down overall. Its best feature is the common area.

Kafka is a bit better in terms of staff and layout, but the rooms and beds could be improved.

Yellow House is definitely the best hostel option in Antigua. The dorm room has regular beds, not bunk beds, and they have a computer for use. They also have a bunch of private rooms.

Yellow House also has the best prices for tours and shuttles. So if you're on a strict budget, buy your tickets here.

We took a shuttle to Semuc Champey for 120Q (prices vary up to 150Q). It took 8 hours. We chose to stay at Zephyr hostel there, which is the newest hostel about a year old with amazing 360 degree views and up the hill from the river. They have private rooms and dorm rooms, and scenic showers. The best food there are breakfasts (try the shake) and brick oven pizza. The staff was amazing and the tours were great. The caves and the pools full day tour costs 165Q with the hostel. You can do it on your own by payin 30Q for transportation from town and 50Q to get into each place. I would highly recommend to bring shoes that can get wet in the cave while you're walking and swimming in it. Otherwise, they have to tie your flip flops to your feet and it's not very comfortable.

Others stay at El Retiro, the older hostel in town that also gets decent reviews. Though Zephyr has been getting great feedback on TA reviews and through word of mouth and is often full. We got the last beds.

We then took the shuttle to Flores, which cost 75Q and took 8 hours. Pretty much everyone in town charges 60Q for transportation to Tikal. We used San Juan travel and I wouldn't recommend them for one thing: the guide insists on taking the $20 entrance fee in cash from you and you never see the tickets. We are sure they run a scam where they claim fewer people actually entered Tikal (we asked for actual tickets, which is when it became obvious). Don't give them the money and buy your ticket on your own at the ticket booth.

We also bought tickets to Belize City which takes 5 hours via the express bus (the bus drops you off at the ferry terminal if needed). We shopped around quite a bit and the best price for the morning express bus at 5am is 100Q via San Juan buses. The 7:30am buses and Maya buses are 110Q. Linea Dorada buses are more expensive. I would recommend Oscar at the Lavandaria/Ticket Office place on the main street for great service and prices without haggling.

Hope this helps!

Port Richey, Florida
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1. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

Glad you had a safe trip.

The Dalles, Oregon
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2. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

Great information - thanks for posting. Do you have opinions to share about Semuc Champey, the caves, and your experience at Tikal?

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

Semuc Champey is amazing and a must-do in my opinion. You do have to be in pretty decent shape for it and be an OK swimmer for the cave tour (and not be claustrophobic). The cave tour was my absolute favorite part. You walk in parts, swim in parts, climb, slide through holes with gushing water, carrying a candle all the time. If you're adventurous, don't miss out on this.

The pools have crystal clear water and are great for swimming. You can jump/dive from pool to pool pretty easily. The hike to the viewpoint and down to the pools is a good one too. Great views and good exercise.

I liked Tikal, mostly for the jungle setting. Though after Angkor Wat, all ruins kinda pale in comparison kind of like Niagara and Vic Falls pale in comparison to Iguazu.

Btw, Los Amigos is a great hostel in Flores if you're looking to meet people. The hangout area/restaurant is one of the best ones I've seen at hostels. They have dorms (35Q) and private rooms available.

I forgot to mention that Zephyr currently costs 35Q for a dorm bed. Not sure about the cost of the private cottages.

Edited: 03 December 2010, 15:26
The Dalles, Oregon
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4. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

Thanks for that - just what I was looking for. I'm really fond of caves so that's an even bigger draw for me than the water. I head to Guatemala frequently and have always prioritized cultural over a visit there. I already have other plans in Guatemala for this summer but maybe in 2012 I'll make it to Semuc. Thanks again!

Omaha, Nebraska
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5. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

How long was your stay? I'm getting ready to head to Guatemala in late February, looking to stay 10-14 days. What would you recommend? I have yet to venture to Central America...

Thanks :)

The Dalles, Oregon
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6. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

Go for 14 if it's possible - you won't regret it! My photo collections are below with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection in case you'd like to check them out. Happy trails!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Edited: 03 December 2010, 19:50
Bethesda, MD
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7. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

For Semuc, I think you only have to be in decent shape if you're going to go up to the mirador -- think Stairmaster but slippy. The pools are easily accessible. Unless anything's changed since I was there; it's been five years.

8. Re: Trip Report - Antigua, Semuc Champey, Flores/Tikal

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