Copan

Now known as Copan, the capital of the Maya kingdom of Xukpi (shuk-pi) is home to some of the finest ancient art of Mesoamerica.

No other site has more hieroglyphic inscriptions and stone monuments.

These ancient artworks include massive portrait stelae, a 63-step hieroglyphic staircase, and intricate altars.

Close-up of Intricately-carved ancient stelae depicting maya figures at ruins of Copan in Honduras

Copan is also the site of the second largest ballcourt in Central America, and the richly detailed Temple of Inscriptions.

Rosalila and Jaguar Tunnels

Two tunnels—Rosalila and Jaguar—lead to subterranean tombs and a series of temples nested within each other.

While Copan flourished here from the 2nd to the 8th centuries, this site may have been inhabited as early as 3400 BC.

By the time the Spanish arrived, it was long abandoned to the meandering Copan River and encroaching jungle.

Brown, meandering Copan river, photographed on a hiking tour of Copan in Honduras

Initial excavations began in the late 19th century.

Copan is located in the temperate highlands of western Honduras.

Accordingly, temperatures are generally comfortable year-round. The dry season typically lasts from December to May.

Copan’s Green Season

The green season–June to November–is characterized by clear mornings and afternoon showers.

Honduras-Private-Custom-Travel-Design-Copan-Arch

Accommodations are available in the town of Copan Ruinas and at a handful of charming haciendas.

Copan lies approximately three hours southwest of San Pedro Sula and approximately five hours east of Guatemala City.

Copan’s former rival, Quirigua, is located 108 miles–approximately three hours–to the northwest in Guatemala.

Photo taken from high vantage point showing large ancient steps with mountains in background at Copan maya ruin site in Honduras

Birding and Outdoor Adventure

Today, the site is home to Scarlet macaws and other colorful birds.

A nature trail leads to the Museum of Sculpture, showcasing stone and pottery artifacts and a true-scale reproduction of the Rosalila Temple.

One of the best aviaries in Central America is located just outside the town of Copan Ruinas.

Two red, colorful birds (scarlet Macaws) flying side-by-side in Guatemala

The Macaw Mountain bird park houses scores of Buffon’s macaws, parrots, and Keel-billed toucans.

Nearly 400 avian species have been identified in this region.

Marquee species include:

  • Blue-crowned Motmots
  • Montezuma Oropendolas
  • White-fronted Parrots

Visitors to the Copan region can also ride horses, zip-line, tour a coffee farm and a butterfly garden, explore other Maya sites, or enjoy soothing hot springs.

Orange sunset over the mountains in Copan, photographed on a family vacation

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