Deep in the heart of Central America lies the ruins of Mayan civilizations built up over centuries and destroyed by resource exhaustion, famine and war. In each case, mother nature reclaimed these lands as she stood patiently at its edges and lined its foot paths. Archaeological sites like Tikal in Guatemala and Chichen Itza in Mexico have drawn tourists from around the world to discover a piece of human history as impressive as any in the world.
The Mayan empire spanned much of what we know today as Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. A truly incredible feat in such an unforgiving and challenging environment.
Often overlooked, yet equally if not more so impressive is the city state of Copán. Located deep in the Copán Department of western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala. This sacred site was once the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD.
Centuries had passed before the site had been discovered and exhumed. What was discovered was a rich and complex city state. Beautiful and magestic structures climbing high above the tree canopy. Rich in life, monkeys traverse the tree tops while couples of Macaws soar high above the jungle floor, splashing vibrant colours across the sky.
Deserted for millenia, Copán river valley was renewed and returned to its rich and fertile state. Eventually, people would return to this life giving locale, slowly giving rise to a new town in the hills overlooking the ancient site.
Copán Ruinas is a tranquil and beautiful town in the rolling hillside. Steep roads lead to spectacular vistas. Lush greenery and seemingly endless dense forest has provided for the local people for centuries.
The Town of Copán Ruinas
The town of Copán is simply one of the most charming locales anywhere in the region. The people are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Each day everyone from farmers to families congregate in the town square to relax, play and converse. The square plays a pivotal role in life here.
Adjacent to charming hotels and cute cafes, it’s the perfect meeting spot. Should you hang around into the evening, there are often street vendors selling handicrafts and jewellery made to impress. Save your appetite and your Lempira, and make your way to the food stalls. Delicious local cuisine served throughout the weekend will blow your tastebuds away. Baleadas, tacos, and our favourite, though we cannot recall the name, is essentially made from dried banana chips drowned in shredded seasoned chicken sauce with pickled lettuce and mixed veggies topped to taste. I’ve never had anything quite like it before, or since.
Where to Stay
Copán is home to many beautiful hotels, however Don Udo’s is the ideal place to stay. Located on a quiet side street, mere blocks from the square, you simply couldn’t ask for more. As you enter, the open courtyard invites in the perfect amount of midday sun with ample shade surrounding the edges. The second story offers stunning 360 views of the lush hills and steep slopes that set Copán apart.
The rooms are tasteful with exposed beams and lots of windows to let the light shine in. Simplicity is elevated with traditional regional textiles and bedding making your stay comfortable and cultural.
The charm doesn’t stop there. Each night the cafe gets busy with locals and travellers in the know. Of what you ask? Only the most delicious homemade Churros this side of Mexico. Warm chocolate and dulce de leche oozes within the sweet and delicate pastry, melting further in your mouth. We promised just one, but that was never going to happen.
The theme of chocolate runs deep in this part of the world. As it happens, Don Udo’s produces chocolate on sight, that rivals any in the region. A must for every sweet toothed traveller. The dutch owner’s have created a variety of chocolate for all tastes, from high percentage cacao to sweet milk chocolate.
No trip to Central America would be complete without a stop in Honduras. Truly a land rich in culture, spirit and natural resources, Copán offers natural beauty that rivals any in the world.