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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.

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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!

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9 thoughts on “Visiting the UNESCO Copan Ruins + Bird House; Copan Ruinas, Honduras

  1. Sounds like you had a great day at Copan Ruinas. I visited last year and found it really beautiful too. I especially liked the fact that it wasn’t crowded and we had it all to ourselves. The town has a chilled atmosphere too.

  2. I’ll visit Honduras soon and I’m really grateful for your post! I’ve been looking for some info on the Internet but it was all a bit confusing, so, for real, thanks 🙂

  3. I am dying to go to Central America. I like countries that scares other people off actually and Hondureas doesn`t just look interesting to travel to but also to work (I work in international development). There aren`t many bloggers writing about Honduras, so I really enjoyed this post. So much so that I will start looking at jobs out there I think. 🙂

  4. I was going to ask how Copan Ruinas compared to the other Mayan Ruins in Central America. That is pretty cool that they have excavated that pyramids below the pyramids! Honduras was on my radar in July 2009, including a visit to Copan Ruinas, but I had to change my trip to Belize at the last minute due to a Coup d’etat that happened literally three days before my arrival. Still on my radar for a future trip, though, and really close to me (Toronto, Canada). Look forward to reading more of your time in Honduras!

    1. For me it’s right up there with other ruins, places like Chichen Itza are awesome but they’re so touristic, whereas Copan is so quiet. That, for me, makes it a much cooler experience Ray 🙂

    2. Hi Johnny, Ray. This brought back some lovely Copan Ruinas memories. Ray – the stone carvings at Copan are also a standout compared to other Mayan ruins and, as Johnny says, the peace of the place is a wonderful blessing. Don’t miss the top local coffee. If you stay in for another day, the Jaguar Hot Springs are fab – outdoor pools in the jungle.

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