Semuc Champay
photos by Lois and Don Porter

Semuc Champay is the name in an indigenous language of a section of the Cohoban River where it flows through a limestone valley between mountains. The translation is: Semuc = “where it hides”, Cham = “deep”, and Pay = “big rock”. The river has carved a tunnel through the limestone, so it flows mainly underground for some 300 meters. Meanwhile, the surface above the tunnel is filled with a series of pools and small waterfalls, fed by streams that enter the river here. We had the excellent fortune to arrive at Semuc Champay before 7am, with a magical morning mist hanging and swirling in the valley. We were all smitten with the beauty of the place. We walked around and through the pools, taking lots of photos. After an hour or so, José proposed to show us the entrance to the tunnel where the river goes underground. We waded and scrambled over rocks to get to the viewpoint. Semuc Champay is understandably José’s favorite place on this trip – at his request we took some photos of him there (the last two in this collection); we’ll be sending prints of them to José.

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