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mistybleu Copan - A travel report by Amanda
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Copan,  Honduras - flag Honduras -  Copán
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mistybleu's travel reports

An excursion to Copan, Honduras

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On visiting Guatemala, the guide books suggest an excursion into Honduras to see the fantastic site of Copan – Las Copan Ruinas. I completely had mixed emotions as the country was given the name “most dangerous country in the world.

Copan Ruinas
Copan Ruinas
From the old capital of Antigua in southern Guatemala it takes around 6 hours by shuttle. The shuttle costs USD$20 and as far as I know they depart twice a day, usually very early in the morning (4am) and then around 4pm in the afternoon. Tickets are available from all the travel agents around Antigua and are more or less the same price, although I shopped around to ensure I got the best deal. I was scheduled to leave Antigua on Good Friday however owing the city being the home of Semena Santa celebrations, the shuttle was fully booked, so I had to make alternative arrangements. Things turned out really well as I was able to take a private shuttle for the cost of an additional night in my hotel or $20 more than the shuttle for my group.

The drive through the countryside was beautiful and we crossed the border at El Florido, with just another 10km into Copan. Copan is a small friendly community and I was pleasantly surprised how safe it was even at night. I didn’t have any issue, but of course I was still vigilant.

The main square - Copan Parque Central was very busy during the evening with people just hanging out. There was some stalls around the square selling food and it had a bit of a carnival feel, with performers, as well as a little market with people selling homemade trinkets. Owing to it being Good Friday they also had created an amazing carpet depicting bible reference. The carpet are made from dyed sawdust and it was amazing the detail and time it took for them to create them.

Besides the ruins, the countryside is beautiful and I kind of liked the slow pace of the local life. Some other things to do:

Luna Jaguar Aguas Termales:only a 25km drive from the town this natural hot springs spa as many difference manmade pools, a great way to unwind.

Macaw Mountain: this area was home to many macaw and whilst they can be seen in the ruins this bird sanctuary is excellent. It is only a short ride from el Centro by the tuk-tuk.

Favourite spots:
Temple 26
Temple 26
The Copán site has a central plaza which adjoins to the acropolis; the acropolis is a large complex of step pyramids, palaces and plazas and features a series of portrait stelae along processional lane.

My favourite was Stela M. It bears a portrait of K'ak' Yipyaj Chan K'awiil and was raised at the foot of the Hieroglyphic Stairway of Temple26 in AD756. This stairway was found with only 9 steps in tack leaving the conservationist the task of putting it back together stone by stone, step by step. The stairway is now located under an awning to protect it from the elements and preserve the over 2,000 hieroglyphic on the 63 steps.

Most of the inscriptions at Copan are very short, relating to specific rituals and dedicatory information of the monuments, however here at the Hieroglyphic Stairway it recounts history beginning with references to the dynasty’s founder.

What's really great:
The macaws of Copan
The macaws of Copan
Las Copán Ruinas is situated about a 20 minute walk from the centre of town and costs $15 per person to enter. You can also pay an additional amount should you wish to explore the tunnels, however I opted out of doing this and then later read it probably isn’t worth it. I believe the tunnels are a result of the excavation work carried out back in the 80s and leads to the burial area.

In relative terms the site isn’t as large as Tikal (Guatemala) or Teotihuacan (Mexico) which I had also visited on this trip. But it is still quite extensive and was a fine example of the Mayan civilization and has more sculptures there than any other Pre-Columbian city.

The area is very hot during the day so its recommend going early in the morning or late afternoon. My favourite part of the afternoon was seeing the rangers feeding the macaws and being able to get up closed to this beautiful birds.

Copan travelogue picture
There are a lot of lower to medium priced accommodation in the town. I went for basic accommodation which was very reasonably priced – a family run B&B. The room had two double beds, a ceiling fan and a standing fan but no air-conditioning, which made the room incredibly hot but not unbearable. I did however make use of their hammocks, it was just so relaxing, especially after a very hot afternoon at the ruins, so I really liked this place.

Most of the hotels, B&B and hostels are located a couple of blocks from Parque and it is very easy to navigate yourself around. You can get a tuk-tuk as walking to cobble streets can be tiring but that is the charm of the town.

Other recommendations:
Central American colour
Central American colour
Guatemala is a wonderful country to visit, however like most of Central American it has a bad reputation for safety. Advisory says to steer clear of Guatemala City, however Antigua is looked upon more favourably.

I liked the charm of it, with the quaint cobbled streets and traditional buildings make it quite alluring. I was lucky to be there for the Holy Week where the vibes complete changed, and there was so much colour around. It was nice seeing the hill indigenous people come to town to be part of the processions – it just made it magical.

Leaving Copan, its best to head for the coast to Livingston via Honda Rio and then on to Flores to visit Tikal but using on of the daily buses or shuttle.

Published on Saturday May 21th, 2016

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Wed, Jun 08 2016 - 10:13 PM rating by bootlegga

Fantastic! I've always wanted to see Copan (and nearby Tikal), but haven't gone yet.

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