Alta Verapaz Petén

Overcoming fear in Las Conchas

If heaven is real – and I am pretty sure it is – then it must look like Las Conchas. Whát a beautiful place!

On Friday evening, after a really intense and hot training with my girls from team Verbena, I quickly had to pack my bags and eat some dinner. There was an awesome weekend waiting for us! Eduardo, Estefany and Karla (my new mom) had booked a cool trip with Maya Tours to the waterfalls of Las Conchas and the caves of Se’tzul. At 9pm we took an old American schoolbus that drove us all the way to the most northern part of the Alta Verapaz departamento. We traveled all night, so we were supposed to sleep in the bus and arrive at the hotel around 5 in the morning. Unfortunately, we arrived almost 4 hours later and I didn’t sleep very well due to the really bumpy road. But it was okay, because I was in a completely new part of Guatemala! Alta Verapaz is so pretty I was afraid to close my eyes and sleep.

In the hotel we were finally able to have some breakfast: a big plate of my favorite fruits here, piña (pineapple) and papaya. I could also finally call my dad on his 60th birthday! He’s 60! Too bad I wasn’t there to celebrate it with the whole family but I’m sure he had a great day, even without me. The hotel was simple and the four of us had our own little cabin at the back of the terrain.


Our simple accommodation (with private bathroom!) at Hotel Villa Santa Elena in Chahal.
After breakfast we hopped on the bus again to go to Las Conchas: an absolutely stunning piece of nature full of waterfalls, palmtrees and Mayan people. We had five hours to discover the treasures of Las Conchas, which is literally translated as The Shells. The water was lovely and there were several cascadas where we could jump off of. It felt like I was in the middle of the Jungle Book and that Mowgli could swing by every minute. The greatest thing about our trip to Las Conchas was the last and highest waterfall. The guy that worked there said it was 18 meters high, but I honestly think it was only about 10 meters. I have a terrible fear of hights but I could not leave this place without jumping off the waterfall. I would probably never ever return to Las Conchas so I might as well conquer my fear and dive into the unknown.

Eduardo was already laughing in the deep water beneath me and I didn’t want to chicken out with all of those people watching. It took a few deep breaths and some shaking legs but I jumped anyway! While I was overlooking the incredible view I had on top of the waterfall, the song I lived by One Republic popped into my head. “I hope when you take that jump, you don’t feel the fall.” I felt like I was flying until my butt hit the blue water. Autsj. Definitely felt that fall. My right butt cheek, my left thigh and my left arm were covered in redness but I wanted to jump again! This time my jump was a lot better although I still came out of the water with a bruised knee from hitting the rocks on the way out. Yeah, with every broken bone… I swear I lived.

“I hope when you take that jump, you don’t feel the fall.”

Back at the hotel I had to conquer another fear: spiders. The tour guides already warned us for tarantulas and anacondas but I thought they were joking. They. Were. Not. Eduardo didn’t want to sleep under a mosquito net, but after seeing the huge spider near his pillow… Estefany and I even had to move his bed because he was too afraid to do it himself. We all slept great by the way, despite the 34 degrees outside and a humidity of 92% at night. 92!

The really cool path through the jungle at Las Conchas.

The next morning we had to rise early and quickly pack our bags and eat some breakfast (cereal, of course). The bus took us to Las Cuevas de Se’tzol, just outside the town of Chahal where the majority of the people doesn’t speak Spanish but a Mayan language called K’aqchikel or Q’eqchi. Se’tzol consists of a group of really amazing caves that you can reach after a two kilometer hike in the burning sun. It was an extremely hot day with a temperature of 38 degrees! We came across some beautiful palm oil plantations, banana trees and little villages where people still wear the traditional Mayan clothes.

The caves were amazing but also very scary. We went really deep into the caves and sometimes we had to squeeze ourselves through tiny holes. My whole body is bruised and scratched from hitting the rocks and slipping on the wet, clay floor, but it was all worth it! Inside the caves were some stunning blue lakes and at the end we all sat down, turned off our lights and tried to be quiet for one minute. It was a bit scary because I couldn’t see anything and I could feel water dripping everywhere. It was a good thing that we hadn’t seen any spiders by that time, because I would have freaked out really bad. In another cave we found some impressive spiders and one of them was a big, black tarantula. The girl in front of me tried to search for even bigger ones and I had to force myself not to yell at her to PLEASE KEEP WALKING.

The caves were so dark that I only have one good picture of them!

After the tour through the caves we all got a rubber band and floated through a very dark cave that ended in a small blue lake. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done and it was very relaxing! Around 3pm we left the caves and headed back to the bus. It was so extremely hot that even the top of my hands were coverd in little drops of sweat. The most important thing was that I had so much fun that I completely forgot about the bad days I had.

Around mignight we safely arrived in Guatemala City and about an hour later I once again fell asleep with a big smile on my face. And a blue butt.

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