Deep in the tropical jungle of western Honduras, lays the ancient Maya city of Copán, welcoming visitors seeking history, archaeology, adventure or a unique mystical experience. The earliest inhabitants of the region came in 1500 BC and the Maya arrived around the year 100 AD. The city was mysteriously abandoned and not re-discovered until Spanish explorer Diego García Palacio stumbled upon it in 1570, but remained untouched until archaeologists began excavating the site in the nineteenth century.
“Here, just a few hours from home, you can engage in powerful healing ceremonies, rites of passage, and initiations, overlooking spectacular Maya site,” says Shannon Kring, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who has led mystical retreats to Copán since 2007, attracting participants from around the world. The retreat experience includes everything from visits to an ancient fertility site to bathing in thermal springs or participating in legendary “temazcal” sweat lodge ceremonies.
While Copán is Honduras’ best-known tourism destination, the time to visit is now before even more global travelers discover this hidden treasure. Recent construction of an airfield near the Copán archaeological park is making it easier to reach the site. See the Decades Old Dream finally comes true for Copan.
Here are 10 reasons to head there today:
1. Copán is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where more than 4,500 ancient structures have been detected and preserved. And there is still more to be uncovered.
2. Archaeologists regard Copán as one of the three most important cultural sites in the Americas. Imagine Mexico’s Chichen Itzá or Peru’s Macchu Picchu, but without the crowds and kitschy souvenir shops.
3. The Copán archaeological park’s lush jungle location gives it pristine skies and tropical flora, providing a true breath of fresh air and a backdrop for magnificent selfies.
4. Structures in the park include the largest known Maya text in existence, comprised of more than 1,800 glyphs carved into a staircase.
5. The site includes column-shaped stone carvings depicting animals and humans, including portraits of the city’s ancient rulers.
6. The exotic wildlife allows for birdwatching, including an abundance of scarlet macaws, considered the sacred bird of the Maya and the national bird of Honduras.
7. There are several miles of ancient tunnels running beneath the archaeological park, two of which are open to visitors.
8. The archaeological park is located just a short drive from Copán Ruinas, a charming colonial town with great inns, restaurants, bars and spas.
10. The people of Honduras are among the most welcoming and hospitable in all of Central America.
So, pack some light clothing, comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen, and travel to Honduras’ Copán site for an enriching experience. You may even discover yourself along the way.