I must confess. Its been years since I I took a hike to the Archaeological Park in Copan Ruinas town to the Archaeological Park. But today, I was in the right mood, so I set out to take the short 2 km hike. The getting out of town was a bit of hassle. Because of Christmas celebrations, everybody was out buying stuff. The lines to get into the banks where horrible. So, I was happy to be out of town and the crowds were behind!
The trail is on the left side of the road as you depart town. It is a cement trail in great condition, with nice trees along the way. En route, you will pass in front of two stelaes that are still right where the ancient Maya set them up. I am talking about Stelae 5 and Stelae 6. They sit very close to each other and can be seen from the trail. In the old days, I could walk up to the foot of Stelae 5, but access is he no longer permitted, and I had to admire the piece of art from the trail. When I first did this hike, about a quarter of a century ago, it was possible to walk up to the stelae and admire it.
Stelae’s 5 and 6
Both stelaes were erected by the 11th ruler, K’ak’ Chan Yopaat, who was the ruler of Copan between the years of 578, through 628. This is an amazing 50 years leading the destiny of this Mayan city state! Other names used to refer to this ruler are B’utz’ Chan and Smoke Serpent. These stelaes are symbolic “stone trees” and represent the power of creation the Mayan Kings inherited directly for the Gods themselves! Typically, they hold important information regarding the reign of the king himself. In the case of K’ak’ Chan Yopaat, we even know that he died on February 5, 628!
This king erected many other stelaes throughout the Copan Valley, and if you are interested, you can visit them. A word of caution, I have picked up way too many ticks while exploring the stelaes in the valley! Make sure you wear long pants, stick them into your socks and spray your pants and shoes with bug repellent! Fortunately, you will not have a problem with ticks in the Copan Archaeological Park or on the trail between the town and the park.
My hike to the Archaeological Park took less than 20 minutes, even though I did stop to admire Stelae 5 and 6. At the entrance to the park is the Visitors center. There is a small display about the modern history of Copan that you can view here. There is also a rendering of the park that will allow you to understand what you are about to see.
The Visitors Center at the Copan Archaeological Park
Here you will pay your entrance fee. Please note that they will ask you for an ID. This is to determine what they will charge you. There is a hefty discount for Hondurans and foreign residents. If you have dual citizenship, and one of them is Honduran, show them this one, you will save yourself several dollars. When purchasing your entrance ticket, you can include a visit to the Museum of Mayan Sculpture as well as a visit to the tunnels.
My short hike to the Archaeological Park of Copan Ruinas was very pleasant. It made me wonder why I do not do it more often when visiting Copan Ruinas. Doing so in the winter months, the temperature is so pleasant! If you have the time, you should plan on doing the hike from town. After the tour of this Mayan City, you may feel inclined to get a ride back into town, though. Fortunately, there are tuk tuks or “Mototaxis” readily available to get you back to your hotel!