From San Pedro Carchá , a paved road diverts northeast through coffee and cardamom plantations to El Pajal, where there is a turnoff for a dirt road that twists and turns for another 12 kilometers to the small town of Lanquín.
Lanquín is home to some interesting caves and has some comfortable accommodations to use as a base for exploring the nearby countryside.
One of the hippest hotels in all of Central America lies 500 meters along the road from Lanquín toward the village of Cahabón. El Retiro (tel. 7983-0009) offers a variety of accommodations for all budgets in a splendid setting beside the Río Lanquín. The so-called “posh block” has tastefully decorated rooms with private bath and electric hot-water heater ($24 d). There are hammocks out front for taking in the wonderful vistas toward the river and surrounding hillsides. A bed in one of the four-person dormitories costs $4. Rooms with shared bath are also available, and range $10–13 d. You can camp here or sleep in a hammock for $2. The palapa-style bar plays great music and is lined with rope-swing bar seats. The restaurant serves excellent food, with dinner being a nightly communal experience. There are barbecues on Wednesday nights; Saturday night is Mexican. The lodge can arrange a variety of activities for you, including inner tubing on the river for $2.50 and horseback riding ($5–16).
In town, Hotel Rabin Itzam (tel. 7983-0076) has 14 clean rooms with somewhat hard beds and shared bath for $4 per person.
On the other end of town as you come in to Lanquín from the El Pajal Junction is Hotel El Recreo (tel. 7983-0056), with rooms in a wooden main house or in an adjacent concrete structure. The main house has a lower-level section with shared-bath rooms for $20 d. The lighting is fluorescent. Nicer rooms with private bath are $31 d. This lodge is usually empty unless there’s a tour group in town. There’s a restaurant here too.
Other options for food include Comedor Shalom, near the Hotel Rabin Itzam, with set-menu lunches and dinners comprising mostly meat and rice dishes for around $2.