The Mayan Ruins of Copan, Honduras

Copan is one of the major tourist attractions in Honduras, mainly famous for the Mayan Ruins park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Furthermore, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the town and nearby.

First: Honduras is a country in Central America. It is divided into 18 departments (states) and Copan Ruinas is a village in the department of Copán, western Honduras.

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Copán Ruinas is a small charming village, paved with cobblestones, colonial architecture, remarkable flora and fauna, friendly locals, and a warm relaxed vibe. You will find nice comfortable hotels, restaurants, and street stands with the traditional food, and bars to enjoy the nightlife. To move around you can walk or take a moto-taxi aka tuk-tuk! Enjoy the ride!

Things to do in Copan Ruinas

I will start with my very favorite place: Luna Jaguar Spa. This place is the bomb! It’s a Maya culture themed spa in the middle of the jungle with natural springs of cold and hot water. It’s a 45-60 minute drive (tour buses available) from downtown Copan in an unpaved road, a rocky ride but absolutely worth it!! Once there, you start your therapy! Enjoying the different pools at different temperatures. You’ll see the birth of the hot springs (90 degrees Celsius), the cold water running from the mountains, and the perfect mix of both creating agreeable temperatures. Enjoy a natural sauna, massage (reservation required), get a natural mud mask, foot therapy 👣 by walking on rocks alternating between hot and cold water pools. There is no hotel in site but they have spots for tents if you wish to spend the night there. Very, very, very delightful experience, absolutely recommended. #takemeback

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Butterfly park (Mariposario). Its a relaxing place with many butterfly species plus a swimming pool area, jacuzzi, and hammocks.

The tea and chocolate place. Its only open from 16:00-18:00 hours. Free entry and they offer free tea plus some other products for sale. It’s not a typical coffee place, they are a research botanical station and their objective is to encourage green living. The place is like a garden where you can enjoy the sunset in their hammocks or benches.

Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Reserve Another lovely place I super recommend visiting!!! It’s a 15-minute ride in a tuk-tuk. The place is open from 8:30-16:00 hours, plan for a 45-60 min visit. Its a jungle atmosphere with trails and stations where you can appreciate the different flora and fauna around. You can walk along the river, through the colorful Ara Macaws, toucans, coffee and cacao plants.

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Finca Santa Isabel, home of the Welchez Cafe farms. Located at 45 mins from the city center. The coffee tour is $35, they pick you up in the hotel where you are staying and take you to the farm, lunch or dinner is also included in the price. Takes approximately 4 hours.  Honduras is #6 in the list of the world’s top 10 coffee producing countries, #1 in Central America, according to the International Coffee Organization.

Main Plaza (Parque Central). Here you’ll find the Cathedral plus many cafes, restaurants, and bars. Every evening locals set tables where you can buy local art pieces, Mayan replicas, and souvenirs to take back home, and of course, Honduran food!!

Maya Site of Copan

Copan Archaeological Park + Sculpture Museum (Parque Arqueológico de Copán + Museo de la Escultura). Home to curiously carved temples, stelae, and altars full of hieroglyphs that have not yet been fully deciphered. Some insights of the site.

  • The place is approx. 24 sq km and during the busiest Mayan civilization it is estimated that 25,000 people lived here.
  • Around you will see several plazas, temples, and stelae adorned with hieroglyphic patterns and portraits, mainly concentrated in 2 sq km. Each Mayan city has a symbol and Honduras is a bat.
  • Juego de Pelota (ball game) was a very interesting game with many variations. It was mainly a ritual event played to define political issues, territory, religion, and power, which ended up with human sacrifice. In some occasions, it was played as recreation and even then it was brutal due to the presumed heaviness of the ball.
  • One of the most influential Kings was 18 Conejo and he was killed because he lost a ball game.
  • Rosalila Temple is one of the buried structures that they say is almost intact. You can see a bit of the original through the tunnels and a beautiful replica in the museum.
  • Tunnels in the site were not made by Mayans, they have been made by archaeologists to explore the underground structures. Now the tunnels are open to the public, but honestly, you don’t see that much and the price is quite high.

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The tour through the site takes approximately 2.5 hours. We hired a tour guide, available at the entrance to the park. Its worth to do this, otherwise, the place is just rocks.

Copan is a captivating city, great getaway of busy cities and loaded with history and nature. Entering the Mayan site itself is fascinating, with the Ara macaws flying around, admiring the temples of this intriguing civilization and climbing the Mayan ruins is a whole unique experience.

 

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