Conchas de Cahal

Las Conchas

Useful Information

Location: Parque Natural Las Conchas.
Km 346, Franja Transversal del Norte, Chahal 16014. Turn north at the village of Cadenas, signposted.
(15.853073, -89.461280)
Open: All year daily 8-17.
Fee: Adults GTQ 20, Foreigners GTQ 50.
Guide for 1 to 10 persons GTQ 150.
Classification: KarstSinter Terraces
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Parque Natural Las Conchas, Km 346, Franja Transversal del Norte, Chahal 16014, Tel: +502-40592790.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Conchas de Cahal (Snails of Cahal) are a series of eight travertine rimstone pools, which are a bathing location of local fame. The road between Raxrulha, Alta Verapaz and San Luis, Petén, was a road suitable only for 4×4, high-clearance Jeeps, the area was reached after lengthy, spine-jarring drive and impassible in the rainy season. Some years ago the Franja Transversal del Norte, a new paved highway, was opened and th place is now rathe cofortable to reach, which increased the numbers of visitors. Nevertheless, it is much less frequented than the famous Semuc Champey.

The river is full of edible snails which attracted indigenous people for countless generations. In the local Q’eqchi’ Mayan language the place was named Se Pemech (The Snails) which translated into Spanish became Las Conchas, hence the name. The small shellfish were collected by hand along the banks of the Chiyú River and then roasted on the coals of a campfire.

The pools are formed by the deposition of limestone from limestone rich karst spring water. The area is Limestone karst, which is full of sinkholes and caves. The travertine forms walls, which are one to ten meters high, and are used by the locals to jump into the pool below. The whole place is now protected by the Parque Natural Las Conchas, which is managed by the town of Chahal. It recently received a grant from the Guatemalan tourism ministry (INGUAT) to improve the infrastructure. The river is the border between Alta Verapaz and Petén, but as the town and the park infrastructure is on the Alta Verapaz side, we listed it for this region.