LAGUNA LACHUÁ – A MARVEL OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
When you have some time to spare during a vacation, and you have already seen the major sights of a country, you get inventive and…you check Youtube for inspiration. And then maybe the name Laguna Lachuá might come up. My inspiration was a tip from TripAdvisor and a video made by the guys from BajoCeroFilms who I met the day before at the Candelaria Caves accidently … and there I had my pass-time: a lake in the middle of the jungle close to the town of Chisec!
I read that it is a beautiful place and that it’s almost untouched. It’s a 2 km hike through the jungle to reach it, you need to bring your own food and supplies, there’s no hotel or store to get stuff and you need to take everything with you, when you leave. Fun!! That sounded like a real adventure. I stocked up with chocolate, bread, cookies, fruit, water and juices, bought a hammock in Santa Elena, packed my mosquito net, headlamp, a book and a swimsuit and jumped on a local bus directed towards the lake. 2.5 hours later the driver dropped me off at the side of the road. There was only a little kiosk, a “comedor” (a local eatery) and a very basic little hostel. On the opposite side of the road, I could see the entrance of the natural reserve and the little hut were the guy was issuing the tickets and collecting the entrance fee – which was quite reasonable (around 6-8 dollars).
I walked over, approached the guy had a little talk and bought my ticket. After a quick explanation of the regulations, he pointed at a small path into the jungle and wished me a great day. I walked through dense jungle and saw all kinds of birds, a snake, other little fox-like animals roaming around and quickly disappearing as they heard my steps…it was beautiful. It took me approximately 45 minutes to reach the lake and the first outlook – a little hut at the lake shore with a stunning view! Once I continued the path to my left, I got to the camp area after another 30 minutes.
It’s a very basic setup – there’s the main “house” with a lot of space for hammocks, some basic lockers and the area where the guards rest at night. Opposite the main structure, you can find some pick-nick tables and barbecue areas, changing rooms and latrines (a bit outside of the camp). Going up behind the big camping hut, there’s another building with 5 basic rooms with beds. You can rent a room for 7 dollars there if you don’t want to sleep in a tent or hammock. There’s also a kitchen with a fire stove there – but you need to bring wood. And that’s basically all there is. No power, no internet, no phone reception. Be prepared to chill out to the max – bring a book or just enjoy the peace and the views.
From the main “plaza” in camp, there’s a little jetty going out towards the Laguna Lachuá. Follow it until the end and you’ll be standing exactly, where I shot the picture above! The first time you see the water, you won’t believe how clear it is – it’s INSANE! You get an impression when you look at the photos in the gallery below. I couldn’t wait – I had to get changed and dive in. 5 minutes later, there I was letting my feet dangle in the warm and crystal clear water. After 2 minutes hundreds of fish were buzzing around my feet – some nibbling at my toes…it was incredible! I dove in and spent basically all afternoon in the water – relaxing, shooting, filming, enjoying myself! I rarely get to spend time without being distracted by my phone or other people – but THAT was my time and my place. You could watch the fish, the birds, alligators in the distance (they ever get to the area where people swim) … it’s a really quiet and peaceful spot!
In the evening I got ready for my only sunset at Laguna Lachuá and packed my gear to shoot some nice pictures – which isn’t that hard in that place. Everything just looks fantastic. During sunset I saw one girl coming back with one of the guards in a boat, and she had a camera. “Nice…” I thought “…another photographer!”. But she disappeared and I continued shooting until it was dark, Back in camp, I got ready for the night in my hammock as I saw her again – heading out to the lake with her camera. So I grabbed my gear and followed her into the dark. At the very end of the jetty, I saw her sitting and shooting photos and we quickly started talking – her name is Thais by the way. The one shot below with the silhouette sitting and the light is her. it was a fun night sharing travel experiences and shooting pictures of the starry sky!
The next morning, I went for a last swim in the Lachuá lake and packed my stuff to go back to Chisec.
If you visit Guatemala, don’t miss out on that spot! It is a natural marvel and you have to experience it by yourself to believe it. I hope I get the chance to go back and spend some more time there!