Given its name in the local language of Q'eqchi means "fetid water" - due to the sulphur deposits - you may not believe that Laguna Lachua is one of Guatemala's most magnificent sights of natural beauty.
Yet with views of imposing mountains and through a few kilometres of thick rainforest housing snakes (large and small), tapirs, toucans and a vibrant kaleidoscope of butterflies, it is an idyllic off-the-beaten track spot and, on our visit at least, thankfully odour free.
From the entrance, a clearly sign-posted jungle walk of 2.4 kms brings you to the first pier with the main site and pier, including accommodation and swimming, a further 1.8 kms.
There are a number of crocodiles living in this 220m deep and almost perfectly circular lagoon, so where you see a no-swimming sign, you are definitely advised to abide by the rules!
Thankfully, one of few litter free spots in Guatemala where it is clear that great efforts are made to preserve the park's beauty and ecological balance. For example, you are limited to bringing only a towel and camera lakeside, bathing without shampoo, suncream or other products on your person and smoking on-site is forbidden.
Try and go during the week to enjoy the site at its best as it is a popular spot for Guatemalans on weekends.
Unfortunately, a trip to Laguna Lachua is quite a trek from anywhere other than nearby Playa Grande.
Although it is on the main bus route from Coban – Playa Grande, and accessible via a connection at Rayaxche if you are travelling from the north of the country, travellers will still face a minimum journey time of 2.5 hours. This is not too onerous if you plan on an overnight stay there, but it can make for quite a challenging day-trip.
Our recommendation is to make the choice to spend a night there in idyllic surroundings or base yourself in Playa Grande / Chisec. It is possible to make the trip from Coban (especially if you catch a bus as early as possible), but this limits your time in the park to only a few hours with a 6 – 7 hour roundtrip.
From Coban, a collectivo via Chisec will drop you off by the park entrance (3 – 4 hours / $50 GTQ per person). If setting off from Chisec, journey time will be around 2.5 hours ($35-40 GTQ per person).
Travelling from Playa Grande, the park will only be a 15-30 minute ride away for a handful of GTQ.
When you arrive at the park, make sure to ask the ticket office when the last bus passes by; this tends to be between 4 – 5 p.m. and your best bet is to get there at 4 p.m. so you aren't stranded.
Well-built cabins near the lake are available for $70 GTQ per adult. However, as far as we could tell, you would have to carry all your luggage on the 2.4 km trek through the jungle to get there. Camping is also available for $25 GTQ per person.
Opposite the park entrance, there is also accommodation and a restaurant, which may provide an alternative for you.