Why are you located in such a remote place?
- It's true, we are most likely one of the most secluded hostels you will ever stay in. Getting here requires a 30 minute guided hike through the jungle. The reason we chose this location was because of its natural beauty. During the dry season (November - March) the river waters recede, revealing a beautiful waterfall and natural swimming pool just a 2 minute walk from our cabins. Believe it or not, several of our guests never even make it to Semuc Champey because they spend all of their time swimming in this beautiful yet very secluded paradise.
Can we bring our own food and drinks?
- We are one of the very few hostels you will find in Guatemala that allows outside food to be brought in. We understand that many backpackers try to travel on as little of a budget as possible, which means preparing your own food when possible. Bringing in large quantities of food can be difficult because of how secluded we are, so we also stock a pantry filled with easy to prepare food at very reasonable prices. We also have an excellent chef on site who prepares healthy, nutritious, yet delicious meals, and many of the fruits and vegetables we use are either grown on site or bought fresh from the markets on a near daily basis. While we do want to make your stay as economical as possible, we do have to earn a bare minimum of profits in order to keep our employees employed, so we kindly request that you purchase drinks from us at our bar. Our prices are more than fair, and our drinks are always cold.
What does Chi Bocol mean?
- We thought long and hard about what to name our Hostel. We wanted a name that reflected how we feel being in such a secluded place, but also a name that reflected how much our presence has been welcomed by the local community of Mayan farmers who live here. It turns out that the land that we have built our hostel on has been revered as a very special place by the locals for a long time. This spot has been called "Chi Bocol" for at least 150 years (but probably much longer). It took us two years to find someone that could finally interpret it's meaning: It is a reference to a story of folklore - a story passed down from generation to generation. This is the story: Long ago, the lands of "Ch'i Bocól" were mined for gold, silver, and jade. When enough of the precious metals and stones were found, they needed to be taken into town to be sold. In order to get them to where they needed to go, the goods were packed onto mules, which would carry them back to civilization. The very first part of the journey began by crossing the river (the most dangerous part), as there were no bridges here at that time. Before entering the water, a small amount of the gold, silver, and jade were removed from the packs and thrown into the river as a payment to the "sirenas", or mermaids (river monsters) that lived there. The name "Ch'i Bocól" literally translates to "an offering paid to the sirenas in order to cross the river safely". Ever since then, this land has been referred to as "Ch'i Bocól" and we decided to keep the name as a sign of respect to all the generations of people who have lived here long before we arrived, and who kept this story alive by passing it down with each new generation.
Can I swim in the river naked?
- You are free to do what you wish while you are here, as long as you are not hurting yourself or anyone else. However, it is important to understand that the local people that live here are fairly conservative. The local men and women do bathe in the river, but never together. All we ask is that you do your best to be respectful of the local people and their customs, which includes covering yourself if they happen to walk by while you are naked in the river. It is also important to know that the local people will sometimes gather and stare at you (even with your clothes on). If this happens to you, please do not be alarmed. It is part of their culture to gather in groups and stare at anything unusual. As this part of the country offers no electrical services, the local people do not have televisions or radios or other forms of entertainment like we do. We are the first gringos that many of them have ever seen, and they find us very interesting.
Why won't you accept guests that want to arrive on shuttles that depart later in the day?
- Some shuttle companies offer shuttles that depart much later than the 8am shuttles we recommend that you take. The reason that we do not accept guests on these later shuttles is that they have a tendency to arrive very late, which makes the 30 minute hike to get here much more dangerous, as it requires walking down an old mayan footpath in the dark.
Did I see you on Television?
- Maybe. We were recently featured on the BBC's "New Lives in the Wild with Ben Fogle". If you saw us on the television and have been trying to find us in real life, you have come to the right place.
Is it safe there?
- Yes and No. Anything you do in life will come with a certain level of risk, and the more you respect your surroundings, the safer you will be. We don't have many rules here, but the few that we do have are all focused on keeping you safe and happy. We also keep a security guard on staff who is here every evening until sunrise. While we do everything we can to guarantee your safety, it is extremely important to know that you are responsible for your own well being while here, and we are not to be held liable for any accidents, injuries, or otherwise that might occur during your stay.
Do you accept credit cards?
Unfortunately at this time we are a cash only business. We hope to allow credit card payments soon, but this is a work in progress. For now we suggest withdrawing cash in Cobán, where most shuttles busses stop on the way. You can also withdraw cash from an ATM in Lanquin, but there is only one, and from time to time it doesn't work, so best to stock up before departing your current city.
What makes you a "Community Hostel"?
- If there is one thing that I have learned about life and happiness, it is that the happiest people are also those who have true compassion for others, and do what they can to help those in need. This is the philosophy we have adopted and integrated into the culture of our business. From teaching the local children English, to assisting with medical needs, to donating small solar systems to those without electricity, we are always looking for new ways to help the community. We have big plans for future projects, but as with any large project, it takes lots of time and effort to see results. If you feel that you could be a part of what we are trying to do, or have special skills that would benefit our community, please contact us to see how we can work together to make a real difference.
What should I bring with me? / How should I prepare for my visit?
- The most important thing that we recommend that you bring with you is a headlamp, flashlight, or fully charged cell phone with light for your hike in. About half of our guests arrive after dark, and in addition our pathways here on the properly are still lacking in efficient lighting, so the more lights you can bring the better. Other good items to have on hand are bottled water, hiking boots (especially during rainy season), and cash.