Copan Archaeological Tips
In addition to the magnificent Archaeological Park of Copan, there are many other sites of interest for the archaeology buff. Following are some Copan Archaeological tips meant to help you “dig a bit deeper” into the Copan Valley archeological treasures. May I add the fact that there are several museums in Copan that will enhance your comprehension of this magnificent culture.
Las Sepulturas Archaeological Site
“Las Sepulturas” archaeological site is located one mile from the central acropolis. This small site has been instrumental in understanding how the Mayan elite lived before the collapse of Copan.
Probably the most asked question by tourists visiting a site like Copan is: where did the population live? A good part of the answer to that question can be found at “Las Sepulturas”. In addition, you will enjoy walking through its trails, listening to the birds and wildlife, and being surrounded by the peacefulness of the area. There are no guides on site, so if you wish a guided tour, be sure you hire one at the visitor’s center at the entrance to the main Copan Park. If you are interested in the Maya Civilization, and curious about how the Maya residences were back then, you should not pass these Copan Archaeological tips. La Sepulturas is worth your time and really close to town.
Commonly referred to as the “birthing place”. “Los Sapos” is a very small site on the hilltops overlooking the Copan Valley. Studies suggest that this is an area where the ancient copanecan Maya women would go to give birth to their offspring. It is easily accessible via horse back riding. You can arrange for a “guide”, usually a young boy from town to lead you there.
The area is within a private ranch: Hacienda San Lucas. This old hacienda has been totally renovated and operates as a small boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant. It is one of the highlights in Copan that you should not miss. It offers charming rooms, an authentic old rural Honduran ranch house and a gourmet restaurant. They serve fine authentic, local cuisine and have a complete bar with cold drinks including a fine cold Honduran beer after your hike in the area.
There is an entrance fee of Lps 30.00 per person to the hacienda, which goes into keeping the trails in good condition and providing visitors with better services. A good option to hire a horse and a guide is to go with one of the local tour operators in town. There are several, check out Yaragua Tours, Xukpi Tours or MC Tours. All of the above are reputable tour operators and can provide a nice tour that can even include a side visit to La Pintada. This is a nice picturesque Maya Chorti town close by. The ride from town will take you about 45 minutes each way. “Los Sapos” is interesting in the fact that the stones sculptured there are “in situ”. In addition, the view of the Copan valley, the town and the main acropolis is well worth the walk!
One of the best Copan Archaeological Tips I can give you is to get a woman guide for Los Sapos. They have a way of “connecting” with the female energy of this site and make your experience magical.
The Copan Valley Stelaes
Although most of the Mayan “tree stones” or stelae’s are in the main plaza, there are a series of stelae’s that are throughout the valley in strategic locations. Some of these are very easily accessible, while others require an effort to get to. All of them were erected by Butz Hunab K’awil, more commonly known as Smoke Imix-God K. It was part of an effort to demonstrate the power of the Maya kings. This represented the power of creation, inherited directly from the Gods that founded the order of the present world. Through them, he made the entire Copan valley his personal portal to the underworld.
Relatively new as far as Copan Archaeological tips, Rastrojon is a small site on a hilltop. It is just above the Clarion Hotel in Copan. Archaeologists believe is was a military outpost and security sight for the city state of Copan. Most of the buildings suffered major damage over the years as a result of earth slowly sliding down the mountain. There are however, some nice stone panels that you can admire here. Perhaps the best feature at Rastrojon is the view of the Copan Valley. It is easy to understand why the site is ideal for a military outpost. It’s location was clearly perfect to protect the great Mayan City State of Copan from hostile rival armies!
If you do not have your vehicle, get a “tuk tuk” aka “mototaxi” from town to take you to the site. When you finish your tour, walk down to the Clarion Hotel. Get that ice cold beer you deserve and ask them to arrange for a ride back into town. You can also walk back to town, as the site is only five kilometers (3 miles) from Copan Ruinas. Entrance fee to Rastrojon site is worth $3.00 US dollars.
This is a small archaeological site in the Rio Amarillo Valley, about 18 km east of Copan. It is almost across the road from the new Copan aerodrome. The site is very small when compared with majestic ruins of Copan, yet offers a pleasant walk through the rainforests. There are several interesting archaeological buildings.
El Puente Archaeological Site
Located near the town of La Entrada, (the detour is a short 4km before this town) this site is the second most important archaeological park in Honduras. A sign on the road marks the detour. There is a distance of 7 km between the road and the site itself. The area is perfectly safe to hike in, however, you can arrange for a pick up to take you to the visitor’s center. The road to the park is in good condition making the trip much fast and accessible year round. Because of this, there is no excuse to not visit this site. Although off the usual path of tourists it is well worth a visit.
The visitors center offers the day visitor information and basic services. These include rest rooms, a small restaurant, etc., as well as a fine museum of anthropology. For those who wish to visit “El Puente”, and the museum yet do not want to go on to San Pedro Sula the same day, and would prefer not to backtrack to Copan, there are several hotels in La Entrada. By far the best is the El San Carlos Hotel. Few tourists venture out to El Puente. Although it does not boast the splendor and grandeur of Copan, it is a great trip if you are really into archaeology. If you enjoy some solitude while exploring, this could turn out to be one of the best Copan Archaeological tips for you!