We have heard different stories about Honduras, as the second poorest nation in Central America, after Nicaragua – crime is high particularly in the larger cities. But beyond the cities, Honduras has a lush countryside with historic sites and islands off the Caribbean coast waiting to be explored. A few miles from the Guatemala / Honduras border, lies the Spanish colonial town of Copán. We were here for only couple of nights, a nice break in the journey before heading to out the coast.
We have reached the half way point of our month long tour of Central America, saying farewell to a third of the group and welcoming the new joiners and a new group leader.
The Mayan Ruins of Copán, is a spectacular historic site and unlike the other ruins we have seen so far on this trip, the stonework here is much more well preserved giving us a better understanding of how the Mayan’s lived in Copán. The secret to it’s preservation is the type of rock that was used to construct the temples and it’s sculptures; local volcanic rock – which doesn’t weather as quickly as limestone (as used in many other Mayan sites). With it’s intricate carvings and hieroglyphs, this is truly interesting place we recommend to visit if you pass through Honduras and one of our favourite Mayan ruins.
At the entrance of the park, we saw brightly coloured Scarlet Macaws. This was part of local project to reintroduce more Macaws into the wild.
A park guide is recommended, to explain the different stonework, monuments and areas (English speaking guides are available). After an hour of the guided tour, you are free to explore the park yourself and I did just that which gave me the chance to see areas not covered by the tour.
During our visit here, every part of the park was pleasantly quiet and not overcrowded – I was able to walk to some of the old Mayan courts with no other people around.
The following evening, most of the group went to a local hot spring at Luna Jaguar Hot Spring, 22km away from Copán. We didn’t join them this time round as we had already done a similar activity in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Here, you can relax in the pools with naturally heated water and with an evening barbecue dinner. Another activity available was horse riding through the lush green villages near the ruins.
Copán is a really compact town, you can walk almost end to end in minutes. It felt safe, with a steady tourist crowd and locals were friendly. At Copán’s centre is Parque Central, laid with palm trees and surrounded by colonial architecture. It’s a nice place to have a weekend break away from the city or if you are passing from Guatemala into Honduras and onwards.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at Hotel Brisas de Copan, a comfortable hotel just a couple blocks from Parque Central.
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WHERE TO EAT
We were amazed by the prices when we ate at our first restaurant, very affordable! Local dishes are the cheapest, we had our first chance to try Baleadas, a folded Honduran Calzoné filled with cheese, re-fried beans and minced meat. It was huge, overlapping the plate and for equivalent of $3USD at Via Via Cafe Restaurant (a couple blocks west of Parque Central) it easily filled us. Tipicos la Pintada is another great restaurant, they serve delicious handmade Papusas; a small, soft tortilla filled with different meats and cheese (we can only manage three, and again they are very cheap). Cafes and bars are tucked in the side streets of the main plaza. As well as a small market stalls along the streets if you want to buy fruits.
- There is a Macaw Sanctuary in Copán (Macaw Mountain), if you’re focused on seeing these majestic birds – we recommend to see them at the Mayan Ruins instead.
- As you enter the ruin there are many Macaws feeding where they are free to roam around and not locked in cages. Most are not camera shy but don’t get too close. You will not only visit the ruins, but saving you some money and the potential to see other wildlife in the ruins park e.g. monkeys. For more information on the Copán Ruins go to www.copanhonduras.org
- The Mayan Ruins is a twenty minute walking distance, tuk-tuks are available for a small fee.
- We had issues again withdrawing cash from ATMs, as well as many others in the group. Do inform your bank before you arrive in Honduras and always carry another card from a different provider.
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Next post, we visit the Caribbean island of Roatán