Semuc Champey

↟ Adventure: (n.) participation in exciting or unusual experiences that may require bold, risky and/or hazardous action of uncertain outcome. ↟

Reflecting on my life, I realize I'm not always one to follow safety guidelines or set rules. Sometimes I find myself on a pair of skis with an oversized camera bag on my shoulders in "no-fall zones"... You know, the type that could prove fatal with a single misstep. Other times I cross over boundary lines to get a unique shot of a waterfall that flows into a dark cavern below my feet. My personality tends to bend the rules of safety and security in search of a beautiful thrill. I'd like to say that I trust myself not to go too far.. I suppose only time will tell.

The road to Semuc Champey was an intimidating one. The winding dirt cutout in the cliffside of the Sierra de Chamá mountains in Guatemala made for some white-knuckled passengers as we careened into the deep, lush valley of green. Upon entering the small local town nearby, we were transferred into the back of a 4x4 truck like cattle, and took off even deeper into the jungle. Intimidation aside- the excitement was obvious in all our faces. 


Exiting the truck and following a trail into the trees, the sound of local birds grew louder and more overpowering. It was as though they were attempting to cast one last blanket of intimidation to ward off the weary. A moment later, as our trail emerged from the trees, we caught the first glimpse of our destination. A pool of water shifting from turquoise to emerald lay before us, fed by a waterfall and drained by another. After a few more steps, another pool came out from hiding, then another. My eyes have never been so wide as the first moment I witnessed hundreds of emerald pools cascading down through hundreds of waterfalls of all shapes and sizes in the middle of the ravenous jungle. I have yet to find words to describe the beauty.


After jumping off waterfalls and swimming through numerous pools, I made my way to the headwaters above. I had no idea what to expect, but I was teeming with curiosity. As the pools came to an end, the sound of rushing water grew louder, which confused me. Why were these beautiful pools so calm if the water was raging above? As I climbed my way toward the overpowering sound and turned a last corner, my mind was thrown into disarray.


There before me was a wild river flowing steadfast through a beautiful gorge. From where I was standing, I should have been swept away by the current... Yet somehow, I was left dry and confused as the roaring waters flowed directly into a cavern under my feet and disappeared into the mountain, leaving no trace behind. I later learned that this river flows directly under the beautiful emerald pools, unbeknownst to their awe-inspired visitors. This puzzle continues to baffle me long after the trek back through the jungle and to our temporary home of Cobán.


Via Instagram: The incredibly talented @ekaboo.button showing full control of mind and body as she holds the pose on the edge of oblivion. This raging river at Semuc Champey, Guatemala disappears underground just a few feet away, and one wrong move would prove devastating. Add the use of a Lee Filters 10-stop neutral density filter to perfect the shot, and her true talent and strength withstood the time required for numerous shots taken until I was satisfied.