I’m planning to spend 10 days or so in Honduras, and although that’s more than most, it’s still not enough in this gorgeous country. Sure it has it’s dangerous spots, but the beauty more than makes up for it, and nowhere more so than Honduras’s most famous tourist attraction – the Copan Ruins.
I had arrived the day before through a series of hitchhiking jaunts and chicken buses but I was up super early to check out the main event. The town of Copan Ruinas is a breath of fresh air in Honduras too, no danger, you can walk about safely, even have a few beers. It’s also one of the few places that you can meet other travelers.
When you arrive, check out the local tourist information office, Paula, the bilingual manager there, can help you organize your whole time in Copan and beyond. She’s great.
I did just that, and discovered that the ruins are a casual 1km stroll just out of town, so off I went. After 15 minutes or so I arrived and organized myself a guide (Juan Carlos), he took me around the ruins for a couple of hours.
The ruins are absolutely breathtaking, 2000 years old and still in great condition. Huge imposing pyramids, intricate hieroglyphics, jaguar statues. The routes that the guides take you on allow you to climb some of the temples, giving you the most amazing views of the main plazas.
One of the unique things about the ruins here in Copan, as opposed to Tikal (Guatemala) and Chichen Itza & Tumul (Mexico) are that they have excavated the existing temples below the current temples (the Mayans always built temples upon old temples each generation). So you can actually walk down and through tunnels to see the old temples, which have been almost perfectly preserved, below – complete with colouring still in tact in a lot of places. Unreal.
The main plaza is the most popular area – a huge expanse surrounded in statues and pyramids, with wildly colourful macaws fly over head, it’s truly a genuine travel experience.
After a couple of hours my time was up. I had a spot of lunch and headed over to the Macaw Mountain bird sanctuary just outside the town. You can walk there (30 minutes) or take a tuktuk ($1). This is a serous photo opportunity so don’t forget your camera.
The local bird expert walks you around the grounds, you see so many exotic birds fluttering over head. But the real highlight was when they bring you back to the area where you can hold them yourself. Hawks, toucans, 5 types of macaws, parrots – I’m not a bird guy but this is pretty amazing. To spent a couple of hours here costs about $9 and it’s well worth the experience, plus you’re giving something back to the local community.
I had a brilliant day in Copan Ruinas, you could stretch it out to 2 days if you really wanted to (or if you’re nursing a hangover), but 2 nights/1 day is perfect I think. Back to my hotel and off to San Pedro Sula tomorrow!