Many of the destinations that are popular in Honduras are so due to scuba diving. Since neither of us dive, we decided to skip the coastal areas. I was more interested in ruins. So even though we had just seen Tikal in Guatemala, a few days later we were in Copan Ruinas to see another ancient Mayan site.
Exploring the Copan ruins
We met up with a few people we met on the bus from Guatemala the day before to split a tour. Quickly we noticed a few big differences between Tikal and Copan: There were fewer people. The temples and pyramids were smaller. The site itself was smaller.
Our guide told us about the ancient leaders who once ruled here, including one called 18 Rabbits whose name shows up all over town. He told us about the games that ended in sacrificing a player from the winning team, similar to those in Tikal. And since teams traveled from all over the Mayan world, it’s possible that teams from Tikal traveled to Copan, and vice versa.
Probably the highlight of the site from an archeological point of view is the hieroglyphic staircase. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight, and it is the longest pre-Columbian hieroglyphic inscription in the Americas. There are over 2,000 hieroglyphics on 63 steps.
Aside from that, there were lots of other intricate carvings and statues throughout the site.
And the views of the surrounding areas were gorgeous. Made me wish I had more time to see more of this part of Honduras.
The site is also a macaw sanctuary, and when we entered, before even reaching the ruins, we saw tons of them. They were so bright and colorful, and even though I’m normally not a bird person, I was fascinated by them. I also found it entertaining to see the military police, who must see these birds every day when they come to work, watching and taking pictures of the birds as they flew around and ate their food.
Visiting Ruinas de Copan in Honduras
The ruins of the pyramids and temples here weren’t nearly as imposing as the ones in Tikal, but they were still interesting to visit. It’s hard to compare the two since they are so different. I think if you only have time for one or the other, there’s no doubt you should go see Tikal. But if you have time for both, it’s well worth a trip Copan.
We also really liked the town, or at least the little bit we saw of it. Unlike Flores, near Tikal, Copan Ruinas (the name of the town, as opposed to Ruinas de Copan, the name of the ruins) felt like a real town that people who had nothing to do with tourism lived in, though you can definitely tell tourism plays a big role.
Entrance tickets were HNL330 (US$15) per person. We also paid HNL265 (US$12) for the guide, which was for the two of us in a group of five. We didn’t book anything ahead of time since there are plenty of guides available near the ticket counter. The ruins are close enough to the center of town that you can walk, but it’s sort of a long walk, so we took a tuk-tuk for HNL40 (US$2) each direction. They usually charge HNL20 per person in each direction.
We stayed at La Casa Rosada, which was tied for the best hotel of our trip. It definitely had the most comfortable bed, and it was one of those places with a pillow menu. There were wooden shutters on the windows, which meant we weren’t woken up by the sun early in the morning. Breakfast was included, which was eggs, beans, plantains, fruit, and toast.
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