Guatemala Guides | How to get from Semuc Champey to Flores and Tikal

Guatemala Guides | How to get from Semuc Champey to Flores and Tikal

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If you have made it as far as Semuc Champey you know that traveling from Semuc Champey to Tikal is not going to be much fun!

I thought the bus ride from Antigua to Lanquin was bad, nothing could prepare me for the hell that was the bus from Lanquin to Flores. But If you want to see Semuc Champey (and believe me you want to see it) this is the price you will have to pay. So if I haven’t already completely put you off read on for my guide on how to get from Semuc Champey to Tikal, or Lanquin to Flores.

The journey from Semuc Champey to Flores goes a little something like this:

  • From your hotel, the minibus should pick you up at 8 am, it’s Guatemala so expect them to be late!
  • After you have picked up all of the passengers you will head up to Coba, this should take 2 hours. And you probably won’t leave Lanquin until around 9 am.
  • From there you may or may not change buses and/ or drivers – We didn’t change bus but we did change drivers. Make sure you get some food here as it’s another 2-3 hours before the next stop!
  • When you stop again you should have around 30 minutes to get some food.
  • The next part of the journey is a bit of a killer, especially if you don’t have AC in your bus. Which of course we didn’t. You will have to stop and wait for a raft/ boat thing to take you across the river. If you miss it takes 30 minutes for it to go and come back… we were stuck there for an hour and it was hell because of the heat!
  • From this point, you should have just over 3 hours left (should)

A little warning about the journey from Semuc Champey to Flores

When entering Santa Elena someone will suddenly appear on the bus and start trying to give you “local information”. He kindly informed us that to go into Tikal for sunrise the next day people needed to buy the tickets at the bank. A few people decided they wanted to do this and so the bus stopped to let them get tickets. 1 HOUR LATER hot tired and grumpy after 11 hours on this minibus ride from hell we were still there, so close but so far. If this happens to do you a favor get off the bus and take a tuk-tuk it will cost you 6Q to take you over the bridge. Don’t buy anything from these people and ignore them if they tell you a hostel is full, they are just trying to get you to somewhere that they get a commission for bringing you.

Cost: 90-120Q

Time: Bus leaves at 8 am (more like 9 am by the time you leave Lanquin) and takes 6-8 hours (it took us 11 hours)

What I’d do differently

If I could do all of this again I would book everything online with GuateGo, the tour to Tikal the transport, everything. Why? Because there are way too many cowboy shuttle drivers and rogue tour agents. I can’t even tell you how many people I spoke to who paid extra for things like AC only to get on a minibus with none and a driver who doesn’t even have insurance! It happened to me several times. GuateGo vet all of the companies they work with and are an official seller of the Tikal tours. So save yourself a lot of stress and book before you get there.

Are there any other options to get from Semuc Champey to Tikal?

I wish I could give you some options here that involved nice Air Conditioned buses that run on time along nice roads…But it’s Guatemala and Lanquin is in the middle of the jungle down some pretty gnarly roads that you have to travel back up. Other than driving or taking a private transfer this is the only real option sadly. I’ve traveled all over Guatemala and this was by far the worst journey I have taken. But like I said above book with GuateGo and you should be fine!

Here are a few tips to help you make the journey from Semuc Champey to Flores a little bit more manageable

  • If you can make sure you get a window seat, even better get the front seat!
  • Wear synthetic clothes that will dry quickly, short and vest top are ideal. You are going to get hot and sweaty!
  • If you have a hand fan keep it handy.
  • There will be people selling coconut water on the side of the road in bags, get some!
  • Make sure you have your headphones or earplugs handy to try and block out the world.
  • Take plenty of snacks, nothing that will melt though.
  • I wouldn’t recommend buying a huge bottle of water unless you are going to drink it quick. I could have made hot tea with my water!
  • Download some podcasts to pass the time, or load up some films on your iPad.

Final Thoughts

I know this isn’t the most positive post, the journey was hell. But would I do it again to see Semuc, Of course, I would!


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Planning a Trip to Guatemala? You might be interested in these articles:

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Is it safe to visit Guatemala? Safety Advice for Solo Female Travelers

The night I thought I was going to die in Guatemala

Things to know before visiting Antigua, Guatemala

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The Top 5 Tours in Guatemala | The Best Tours in Guatemala in Guatemala



Guatemala Guides | How to get from Semuc Champey to Flores and Tikal

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