Antigua to Semuc Champey (Fastest and Cheapest Options)

To travel from Antigua to Semuc Champey you have a few options: shared shuttles, public buses or private transfers.

And if you want to swim in the stunning turquoise-coloured pools or experience the thrill of exploring the Kanba caves by candlelight. Then you’ll have to make the long journey to this remote paradise.

So whether you’re on a strict budget or are happy to pay for comfort and ease, this guide outlines all the options you have for getting to Semuc Champey.

Find out about how to get the best price, departure times, how to book, what to expect on your journey and more…

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Looking down from the viewpoint to the turquoise pools in Semuc Champey Natural Monument

How to get from Antigua to Semuc Champey: Overview

You have a few – but not many – options when it comes to getting to Semuc Champey. And remember all these options work in reverse if you’re travelling from Semuc Champey to Antigua too.

From Antigua Guatemala, the most popular and easiest option is to take a shared shuttle bus (a 15- to 20-seater minivan). Or you can take the bus (cheaper but less convenient) or a private transfer (more expensive but the least hassle).

The table below gives an overview of your options and there’s more details on each in a dedicated section further down.

One thing to note for all the options, however, is that they drop you off in Lanquín.

This is the nearest town to the Semuc Champey Natural Monument and where most hostels and hotels are located. There’s more on how to travel the last 10 km to the national park below.

How long does it take to get from Antigua to Semuc Champey?

The journey takes at least 9 hours but regularly as much as 11 hours (or longer). So, while Google Maps tells you it takes 6.5 hours, this is absolutely not the case.

Unfortunately, poor road conditions, frequent closures for repairs and slow-moving traffic through the small towns along the way really add to the travel time. You need to allow a full day in your itinerary to make this trip.

ShuttleBusPrivate transfer
Journey time9 to 11+ hours10+ hours8 to 10 hours
Number of changesNone2 changes/3 busesNone
Toilets onboard?NoNoNo
Cost200Q to 350Q (25 to 45 USD)150Q (20 USD)300+ USD
BagsSecurely fastened on the roofOn the roof or under your seatIn the trunk mostly, excess luggage may go on the roof
Where to sitFront or middle, ideally somewhere with good legroomWherever there’s an empty seatBack will be bumpiest in a minivan
How to bookBook online in advance or through a hostel or agency in personPay your fare onboard. Guatemala City to Coban can be pre-bookedOnline in advance
Fuego and Acatenango Volcano at dawn with a large plume of ash above Fuego as it erupts

Shared Shuttle From Antigua

For the best balance of price and convenience, take a shared shuttle to Semuc Champey.

These leave Antigua around 8 am each morning, usually with a hotel pick-up service too. An overnight shuttle also runs (subject to demand) leaving Antigua at 11.30 pm.

The journey to Lanquín takes at least 9 hours, although it’s often more in the day time.

You’ll be dropped off by the Exxon gas station in Lanquín. And this is also where the shuttles leave to go back from Lanquín to Antigua.

Along the way, you’ll usually make a short stop in a roadside restaurant that has toilets and food/drink. As well as a second stop in Coban at the Plaza Magdalena commercial centre – where you can get dinner before arriving in Lanquín.

If you’re coming back to Antigua after Semuc Champey, it’s a good idea to book your return journey at the same time. Especially if you book in person in Antigua, as you’ll probably get a better deal this way.

How much is the shuttle from Antigua to Semuc Champey?

As is the case across Guatemala, the price of the shuttle is not fixed. And prices range from 200Q to 350Q (25 to 45 USD).

Prices vary depending on whether you’re booking direct, through an agency, in person or online. And if you want the best price, you’ll often have to go to a few places to compare prices in person.

You’ll get the best price by booking in person in Antigua. But this limits how much in advance you can book. And means you need to go around a few agencies to find the best deal.

So, if you prefer to book in advance and firm up your travel plans. It’s a good idea to book your shuttle from Antigua online. I recommend using gottoGo for this because they’re a Guatemalan-run travel comparison site bringing local shuttle operators online.

Their website is easy to use and they offer round-the-clock WhatsApp support should you have any questions or queries.

Looking through the valley at the Semuc Champey pools below

Getting Public Buses to Semuc Champey

Guatemala’s public transport doesn’t exactly have a great reputation. But, you can still get from Antigua Guatemala to Lanquín using only 3 buses (and a taxi). Even if it will take you about over 10 hours!

The bus route from Antigua takes you via Guatemala City to Semuc Champey. And overall, is pretty straightforward.

Importantly, the last bus from Coban to Lanquín is around 5 pm. So, unless you want to stay overnight in Coban, I’d recommend leaving Guatemala City no later than 11 am – and ideally earlier. As early as possible given the likelihood of delays along the way.

And also, the bus isn’t really that much cheaper than getting a good-priced shuttle. But it does come with a lot more hassle, changes and waiting around.

Antigua to Guatemala City

  • Board a bus to Guatemala City. This should cost around 10Q and take 2 to 3 hours.

The chicken bus from Antigua to Guatemala City finishes at the Western Bus Station (Estacion de Buses Occidente). But, it’s better to get off about 2 miles before next to the Miraflores Shopping Mall.

This is because you next need to get an Uber across Guatemala City to the next bus terminal. And it’s much easier and safer to get an Uber from a fancy Westernised shopping mall than the side of a busy road.

Guatemala City to Coban and Lanquín

  • Take an Uber to the Monja Blanca Bus Terminal – this is 6 km away and should cost around 25Q to 30Q.
  • About 5 hours (or more) later, you’ll arrive in Coban. You’ll need to walk 5 minutes and a couple of blocks from the Monja Blanca Terminal to Transportes Martinez.
  • Finally, take the 2-hour bus to Lanquín. This costs around 40Q and you pay on the bus.
Zoe stood at the Tres Cruces viewpoint in Antigua Guatemala with the city behind

Private Transfer TO LANQUÍN from Antigua

If cramped buses or minivans aren’t your thing and especially if you’re travelling as a small group, then private transfers are the answer.

For a car, expect to pay around 100 USD per person (up to 3 people). But if you can fill a 6-seater or 9-seater van, you can be paying as little as 50 USD per person.

Book online or in person through travel agencies or travel comparison sites… Then sit back, relax and enjoy the views.

In fact, this is one of the most scenic drives in the country. You’ll quickly leave behind the views of Guatemala’s incredible volcanos, like the popular Acatenango and Fuego volcanos or the smaller but fun Pacaya Volcano.

Then it’s into the central highlands area. The volcanos are replaced by tree-lined hills and valleys as the landscape becomes more jungle-like.

The brightly coloured pools of Semuc Champey from above surrounded by dense jungle

Lanquín to Semuc Champey Transport

Pretty much everyone who comes to Lanquín is going to Semuc Champey. So the transport between the two isn’t hard to find.

  • Pay the fare of 25Q then sit or stand in the back for the scenic journey through the jungle
  • 30 minutes later or so and you’ll arrive at the park entrance

But remember, if you organise a tour (either private or group) from Lanquín, your transport is normally included in the price.

The famous arch in Antigua Guatemala. Agua volcano is partially visible through the arch but clouds obscure most of it.

Tours to Semuc Champey (From Antigua)

An organised tour from Antigua Guatemala to Semuc Champey can be a stress-free and hassle-free experience, with everything planned and booked for you.

Tours aren’t for everyone. But if you’re short on time – both in Guatemala and for planning – they can provide great value and ease.

Generally speaking, tours from Antigua will include round-trip transport (in shared shuttles), 2 nights in a hotel and a guide-led tour of Semuc Champey. The latter of which includes transport from Lanquín, entrance fees and your guide. Lunches may or may not be included, so it’s best to check on that.

Tours can be booked through one of the many agencies around the cobbled streets of Antigua. Expect to need to haggle and double-check all the details for what’s included, in particular what hotel you’re staying at and its quality.

Alternatively, if you prefer to book in advance. gottoGo – a Guatemalan-based travel company with round-the-clock WhatsApp support – offer online booking for their 2-night tour to Semuc Champey. With this tour, you also have the option to continue to Flores or Guatemala City, rather than having to come back to Antigua.

And when you add up the price of return shuttles from Antigua, 2 nights in a hotel and a tour to Semuc Champey, tours really do offer great value.

In Summary…

Still not decided what route and transport is best for you?

Looking for the cheapest option? Then you’ll want to travel by bus. But remember you’ll probably save less than 5 dollars compared with a shuttle. So is it worth it given it takes 3 buses and a taxi?

Not sure about the shuttle? It’s much less hassle than travelling by bus. You can get on and do nothing for about 10 hours. Netflix, nap, listen to a podcast – no concentration required. If you’re going to take a day out of your itinerary for this journey, you might as well use the time to relax – book your shuttle online and have an easy journey.

Thinking of heading to the lake first? It’s great, you’ll love it, highly recommend. And you can use this guide on getting from the Lake Atitlán towns to Semuc Champey.

Continuing north afterwards? Whether you’re heading into Belize or just as far as Flores, this guide on travelling between Flores and Semuc Champey will explain your options.

Do you have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Information is correct as of July 2023 but is subject to change in future.

Travelling around Central America, here’s some ideas…

EL SALVADOR: Best Time to Visit El Salvador (Don’t Skip It!)

NICARAGUA: How To Get From Ometepe to Granada (No Stress, No Scams)

GUATEMALA: El Paredon Guatemala: Ultimate Travel Guide

HONDURAS: Pulhapanzak Waterfalls, Honduras: Complete Guide To Visiting

BELIZE: Caye Caulker Snorkeling: An Underwater Paradise (Need to Know)

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