From Antigua we wanted to travel north via Cobán to Lanquin before taking road nr. 11 north to Flores. Then we heard that Cobán and the department of Alta Verapaz region was under “State of Siege” since mid of December when the army moved in to help the police fighting the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel. Reading the US embassy’s advice about Guatemala we should probably not be in Guatemala at all. We wrote some emails to the Norwegian embassy in Guatemala City and they told us to that robberies happened quite often in the most popular tourist destinations so look after your valuables. Something we learned our self a Saturday night in Antigua when a friend’s purse got stolen in a restaurant. When we asked the Tourist Police they said Cobán was safe, so we decided to drive the way we had planned to go.
We left Antigua in the morning, and we wanted to drive a road that did not take us through Guatemala City. Driving into the city once was enough. So we took some back roads from Antigua and north to Salamá.
When we came to Rio Grande O Motagua we found that the bridge had been washed away so for the first time on this trip we actually had to drive across a river and not just doing it for fun (The road out past Petersville in Alaska doesn’t count as that whole drive was for fun..).
Since the bridge had been gone for a while it was kind of a “road” where the cars and motorbikes crossed. No problems. It was a really nice drive in these valleys north to Salamá. From Salamá we were back on the “highhway” to Cobán. Took a couple of wrong turns in Cobán, but found our way out of the city at around 17.45, we were pushing to get to Lanquin since we did not really wanted to spend a night in Cobán. And that was good since we later this evening learned from some other travelers that it is actually a 6 o’clock curfew in town…
Spent a nice and quiet night in a hotel’s parking lot in Lanquin. Next day we packed up and drove to Semuc Champey witch is one of the attractions in the area. It was just a totally amazing place with turquoise water in the jungle.
It was great to jump in and swim around in the different pools. Cahabòn River is flowing down the valley and then the rivers runs into a natural limestone tunnel for 300 meters.
On top of the tunnel water flows out of the sides of the valley and forms the different pools with the turquoise water. Amazing place to spend a sunny day.
Second and third night in Laquin we spent at Zephyr, a true backpacker place, and they had a spot where we could park our car and put up the tent. So we joined in for happy hour and stone oven pizzas J
Last afternoon in Lanquin we looked around in the Lanquin Cave where there was no need for a guide and we could walk around by ourselves. At sunset we and a few other travelers were sitting in the entrance to the cave as the bats were flying out to look for their dinner. I had never been so close to so many bats before and I was truly impressed about their navigations skills as not a single bat hit us as they were whizzing by our heads.
After some nice days in Lanquin area it was time to head north to one of the major tourist attraction in Guatemala, the Maya Ruins in Tikal.