Planning Your Time
Copán is located in the northwestern corner of Honduras, a three-hour drive from the international airport at San Pedro Sula, or a six-hour ride from Guatemala City. Copán is a premiere attraction for all of Honduras, yet compared to other major archaeological sites in the Mundo Maya, it receives only a fraction of the tourists.
Spend at least three days in the ruins and surrounding area, making sure to visit at different times of the day to see the same structures in a different light.
You can extend a trip to Copán for weeks, since the territory surrounding the archaeological site features rainforests, Chortí Maya and Lencan villages, and the colonial town of Santa Rosa de Copán. Copán Ruinas town is more convenient for early-morning ruin tours (the best time to visit any ruin) and is far more charming, with coffee, guesthouses, and Saint Day festivals.
There is plenty to do in the area besides visit the ruins. This is the gateway to some of Honduras’s most mountainous adventures. Head to the pueblo of Gracias to embark on some truly unique trekking and community tourism opportunities, or find a jungle spa or sweat lodge and just relax as the calendar clicks on.
An official Comité de Copán 2012 formed in 2011 to coordinate local businesses and interests planning for the important calendar event of 2012. There will be various fairs celebrating Lenca Maya culture, events programmed around each solstice and equinox date, deer dances, plays, and a big fair surrounding the winter solstice.
The Maya Festival Copán (Dec. 18–23, info [at] seedoflightcopan [dot] com) is a full-on feast of Maya culture and festivities. Book your room now to get a front-row seat for archaeological seminars, fire ceremonies, mass meditation, musical presentations, and children’s activities. (Copán is not a big place; I’ve heard reports of rooms filling up more than a year in advance.)
© Josh Berman from Moon Maya 2012