We left El Paraiso and headed towards Semuc Champey, this was going to be a long drive and it was already mid afternoon, we drove till around 6pm and found a Gas Station and Restaurant that had 24hr security that allowed us to stay there in their parking area.
We had dinner in the restaurant attached to the gas station then retired to our unit around 8pm. Next morning, we had the local breakfast special then continued on to Semuc Champey. As seen on the map above this took us along highway 5. This road was paved most of the way except for a 25km/16mile stretch over the mountain that took us through some remote villages and brought us out close to San Augustin Languin. Along the road it became a single track with limited passing locations. This was a rough road but still did not deter the local Tuck Tucks or local bus service. It also took us around two hours to travel the 25km.
We arrived at Lanquin later in the day and decided to stay at the local EXON Gas Station which was located about 3kms/2miles out of town.
Next day we took a Tuck Tuck into town where we transferred to a local colectivo (a pickup truck in this case) which took us to the National Park. We paid our entrance fee and set off up to the lookout, this was a climb of about 150 meters vertical elevation change over a distance of 1.5km/1mile.
Once at the lookout we had to take the obligatory selfie!
Then it was back down to the pools for a swim.
We stopped at a local vendor selling fresh coconuts, Stewart could not pass without having one.
The vendors daughter wanted her photo taken.
Next up a dip in the pools to cool down after the hike up to the lookout and back.
And then back into town for lunch.
Now it was time to set off for Antigua.
We were hoping to stay in or near Coban but when we found our intended location we were to tall to fit under the 3m/9ft high entrance. We decided to continue for a little longer, by then it was getting late in the day (6pm) we found a restaurant/hotel run by a very nice family, that allowed us to stay overnight in their parking lot. We had a very nice dinner that evening and had breakfast there the following morning before continuing on.
It was a Sunday and we thought that driving through Guatemala City should be reasonably quite and easy, how wrong we were, it was a zoo and took way longer than anticipated.
When we eventually made it to Antigua it was late afternoon. We were looking for a particular spot called Vagamundo Camping close to the town, but ended up in the centre which has quite narrow cobbled streets, luckily most are one-way. We ended up near the local market area as we needed some groceries, this happened to be close to the Tourist Police compound where they allow travellers that are totally self contained to stay for free. We split our time between here and Vagamundo campground. There were about 6 other travellers there when we arrived, some had been there quite some time, which surprised us as the rules state no more than five days at a time.
Our friends Mat, Stacey and family were there also and they had some gigs organised over the next few days in the local pubs and restaurants.
Antigua is an old Spanish town which has many old buildings and churches, unfortunately many have been either destroyed of damaged with earthquakes over the years, others not affected.
We though we would stay for a couple of nights here in Antigua but ended up staying almost two weeks, we were drawn in by the relaxed and easy-going atmosphere, plus we ended up spending some time with Mat, Stacey and the kids for a few days. We attended a couple of their gigs in the evening, it was also nice and cool in the evening and very safe to walk the streets.
And there were the chicken buses running around.
There was a display of bears in the town square, each identified a country from around the world, the display was finishing up as we arrived, they were just starting to remove bears when we found them, all lined up in alphabetical order.
Calgary many years ago had cows that were painted in a similar fashion and are now scattered around the world.
While at the Tourist Police Compound we had a dinner get-together with some of the other Overlanders staying there. There were people from Canada, USA, England, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Spain. A good time was had by one and all.
After our time here we started to head south again into new territory.
Next: Central America