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Travel Guide Central America Honduras Copan

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Introduction

Copan - 13

Copan - 13

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The ancient Mayan site of Copan was discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio and nowadays functions as one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. However, they were not excavated until the 19th century. The ruined citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century. As a result of its historical significance it is placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.

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Opening Hours

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Cost

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Sights and Activities

Las Copán Ruinas (entry US$15/person) are the highlight of Copán. Although quite extensive, they are not as huge as Tikal in Guatemala or Teotihuacan in Mexico, but there is more sculpture here than any other Pre-Columbian city. The ruins are prized for the carved stellae of ancient rulers, and the well preserved hieryoglyphics including the hieryoglyphic stairway. Also in the archeological park is a marvelous Mayan museum (entry $7/person) with a reconstructed temple and fabulous artifacts. Fans of Maya art or ancient ruins can easily spend two full days between the two main ruins sites and museum. The tunnels are reportedly not worth the extra fee, and are not authentic, having been dug by archaeologists in the 1980s (these tunnels were originally dug for investigation and they show to the visitors the buried parts of older temples since the Mayans built on top of the older structures to make the new ones taller ).

It's recommended to be there when it opens at 8A:00am, as the site gets very hot by mid-day. Hire a guide at the entrance to the ruins for US$25 divided between however many people you can collect.

Besides the ruins, the countryside is attractive. Slow paced local life is quite calm, and farming of corn, beans, coffee, and tobacco is the main vocation.

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Getting There

From La Entrada (which is well connected to other parts of Honduras) there are regular shuttle buses to Copán Ruinas (L40, 1-2hrs).

From San Pedro Sula, several bus companies go to Copán Ruinas, e.g., Hedman Alas or the cheaper Casasola Expresses (L110).

From Antigua Guatemala in Guatemala, there are several daily shuttles which leave in the morning and arrive in Copán Ruinas around six hours later. Most travel agents in Antigua sell tickets for about Q150.

From Guatemala City in Guatemala, take a bus from Centra Norte to Chiquimula (every 10 minutes, Q45, 4hrs). From Chiquimula, take a small bus to the very calm border El Florido (every 10 minutes, Q16, 2hrs with connection in Jocotán.) Across the border, buses go every 20 minutes to Copán Ruinas (L20, 30 minutes.)

From El Salvador, cross the border at El Poy. From there you can get a share taxi to Ocotepeque (L20). There, board a San José bound bus and get off at La Entrada (L90). There you can find a minibus to Copán Ruinas (L40).

There are also direct shuttles between Copán Ruinas and tourist spots in El Salvador (Santa Ana, Suchitoto, San Salvador, El Tunco) which can be booked in Café ViaVia or online at www.gekkotrailsexplorer.com.

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Getting Around

Copán is a small community, so don't worry about mapping sights before you get there. If you are a walker and sure-footed, it is safe to walk the cobblestone streets anywhere in town or walk to the ruins on foot. Streets are reportedly safe after dark, but standard precautions apply.

Mototaxis (Honduran rickshaws) will take you anywhere in town for a small fee (L10 around town, L20 to the Ruins/Macaw Mountain).

The Mayan Ruins are a short walk out of town and a further 20 minutes walk will take you to Las Sepulturas, a wonderfully open section of the ruins that many people fail to visit - don't! There is also a short nature walk at the main ruins that meanders around other smaller ruins.

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Eat

Most places offer a plato tipico de Honduras. This includes beef strips (or sometimes chicken or eggs), beans, fried plantains, tortillas, cabbage and sour cream. Licuados are either water- or milk-based fruit smoothies that for L30 should be enjoyed every day. Local meals run L80-L120.

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Drink

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Sleep

The town of Copán Ruinas has all types of accommodations for all prices ranges. Most places are located within two blocks of Parque Central.

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Copan Travel Helpers

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This is version 3. Last edited at 14:01 on Aug 9, 17 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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