Saturday, February 7, 2009

Copan Ruinas and Copan Archeological Site, Honduras

Copan Ruinas is a small town a couple of kilometers from the Guatemalan-Honduras border. If crossing from Guatemala, the cowboy hats and leather boots should make it apparent one has made it to another country. The town itself is beautiful and quaint, with cobblestone streets and a beautiful and spacious Parque Central (although its assortment of street food was disappointing to say the least). It also offers horseback riding at the agencies/hotels ($15 USD per person, advertised for 3 hours but in reality more like 2), which is recommended for the opportunity to see traditional Indian life as well as colorful quetzals, the national (but non-nesting in-country) bird of Guatemala. We did not go to Macaw Mountain, but it received good reviews from a friend. Like many towns, US dollars can obtain a better rate for travel agency related items than the local currency.

A 15-minute walk brings one to the Copan Archaeological Site, the main draw of Copan Ruinas and one of the largest attractions of Honduras. The ruins are quite interesting for their beautiful hieroglyphics and sculptures, which one can only appreciate after seeing the lack thereof at Tikal. Whether it is worth the $15 USD entrance fee plus possible transport cost is a toss-up. The tunnels seemed underwhelming from the entrance, and not worth the additional $15 USD. It also may be worthwhile walking along the outskirts of the East Patio Plaza, where it is possible to spot quetzals. Budgeting 3 hours for the trip seems appropriate. The wildlife and upkeep of Copan is noticeably better than that of Tikal.

To get to Copan from Antigua, one can take a shuttle for as low as USD $7 as of Feb 2009, departing Antigua at 4am and arriving at 10am with a 30-minute breakfast break. However, coming back requires a more expensive shuttle bookable in Copan for USD $12 as of Feb 2009, leaving at 6am or noon. Although theoretically it should be free to cross a CA-4 border, good luck convincing the border guards. Guatemala charged a 10Q entrance/exit fee bluntly labeled as such, while Honduras charged a $3 USD “processing tax.” for entry only. Oddly, I was also able to get another Guatemala entry stamp (but no exit stamp or Honduras stamps); if you need to stay more than 90 days, it’s worth trying your luck here instead of leaving the CA-4.

Guatemala / Honduras checkpoint into Copan Ruinas

Facing Site 11

No comments: