If you go ...
Grand ruins: Copan's pyramids
Seeds of doom: Mystery of a deserted city
If you go . . .
Honduras, spared the civil wars that ravaged El Salvador and Nicaragua, welcomes tourists and is relatively safe provided you observe a few safety rules:
- Travel during daylight
- Don't pick up hitchhikers
- Stay on main routes
- Keep the tank filled with gas
- Lock the doors when you leave the car
- Keep valuables out of sight
Observe moderate speeds and watch for animals and bicyclists. Car accidents can involve you in lengthy legal hassles. An alternative to driving is to join one of the many tour companies that lead trips to Central America's Mayan ruins.
It takes about three hours to see Copan's principal ruins and climb the temples. Though many are still half-rubble, the park itself is neatly maintained, with level paths around the structures and across acres of mowed lawns. A snack bar and gift shop are open during regular hours. Also visit the new museum, just outside the entrance; tickets are $5 per person. To hire a guide for about $25 for half a day, inquire at the ticket booth.
Where to stay
The Hotel Marina Copan, a Spanish-style inn near the plaza, has red tile floors, carved colonial furniture, wood shutters, comfortable beds, telephones and private baths with lots of hot water. The rooms, on long corridors, surround tropical gardens and a pool. The hotel dining room serves delicious meals all day.
Though the hotel assures you they purify the tap water, avoid problems by drinking only bottled water, soda or beer, and peeling fresh fruits and vegetables. A double room is about $80 per night, depending on the exchange rate. Fax reservation requests to the hotel at (011) 504-573-076.
For budget travelers, the Hotel Popol Nah has seven rooms with private baths, each at $15 per night. Write to the Popol Nah, in Copan Ruinas, Copan, Honduras, or call (011) 504-983-095.