Halfway our horseride in the countryside around Copan we visited a village in the mountains for a break. We made a small walk in this village. Our horseman guided us and explained a lot about the daily life, the local customs, the adobe architecture, the cooperation of women and about many more subjects.
Lots of kids joined us during our walk. The roads were unpaved. The older houses were made of adobe, the newer ones of concrete. Along the roads we saw lots of bananatrees and from almost everywhere we had nice views at the surrounding mountainslopes dotted with lots of tiny other villages.
We spent two nights in Copan, so we could also explore the countryside. Some people walk , but we decided to go on horseback.
We crossed the Rio Copan and took first an unpaved road along the river for some time. Our horseman explained us about the crops we saw along the route. After some time the road became more narrow and went up into the mountains.
I had read about this place on VTer Willy Wonka's page and elsewhere. Before leaving home, I stuffed my bag with packs of crayons. As soon as I arrived in Copán Ruinas, I asked around, and everyone knew where I meant to go. The orphanage must have moved because it was not in the center of town as described, but it is the same place, Los Angelitos Felices. You'll need help finding it (a tuktuk for instance), but you can walk back easily - and view a little fort, El Cuartel, on the way back. My tuktuk driver assured me that the walk back was safe, and he was right.
This is a shelter for orphans and abused children. The children range in age from 1 to 9, I would say. They were happy to see an unfamiliar face, and starved for contact. The children enjoyed taking photos of each other and seeing themselves on the camera. It is, of course, a very intense experience for the visitor too.
Ask for the Orfanato de Doña Delsy Paguada. If you intend to visit, be sure to make a generous donation, as the orphanage is in constant need of the most basic supplies.
830 steps, and almos a mile long, a real experience into de rain forest, you walk with a tour guide that will explain you every detail of the trip, they take you there from the small village of Copan Ruins to the Finca Santa Isabel, and once you'ré there you take a bus (old truck with a wood cabin) up to the mountain, then you walk down the mountain trhougth the rain forest planted with real coffe trees, until you get to a small restorant where they serve you a good meal, then you start walking again until they take you to a place where they make coffe, not the cup of coffe you drink, but the industrial procces that is required to be packed for you.
a great walking adventure.
While the ruins of Copan can be enjoyed with any number of books and pamphlets that abound in the shops in town or on the internet, it is a different experience to have a guide give you a tour of the grounds. This can be arranged once you arrive, and usually costs about US$20 for a couple of hours.
It is totally worth the cost. The guides, who speak English fairly fluently, are very knowledgeable about the ruins. They can tell you at length about the different customs that the Mayans practiced (and how it is evident in the architecture they left behind), the history of the region both pre- and post-Mayan, and the ongoing restoration efforts that are happening at the site. I found them to be an immense help in bringing Copan to life before my eyes, in ways that a book could not have done. They also help point out different aspects, relics, etc. that books would consider too small to mention... shards of pottery, the different specks of color on the stelae, the history and folklore of the people who lived there. It is an interesting learning adventure in the park, one not to be missed should you visit Copan.
While at Copan you will hear about Los Sapos (The Frogs) which is an active religious site several miles from town. (see photo)
Go to Copan's Central Plaza and face the church. Turn to the right and follow the road running out of town. When you get to the ALTO traffic sign, turn to the right. Continue on towards the AEROPUERTO sign. Cross the river on a modern one lane bridge. Once over the bridge turn sharp left (the river will be on your left). Follow the river upstream until you come to a large sign "Hacienda Los Sapos" at a fork in the road. Ignore the direction to turn right. Continue straight for 150 paces. Keep your eyes open for a passageway through the fence on your right. Enter. Take the trail (always skipping anything branching off to the right). Cross a simple footbridge over a little stream. Follow the yellow painted flashes. It's about a 150 yards from the road.
Remember the site is an active ceremonial altar- and associated with child birth.
Birdwatchers will enjoy this walk.
About 1 kilometer from the Ruinas de Copan, one can walk into the Sepulturas. This small adjacent site is where the high class of Copan lived. It's an interesting and desolated place that sees few travellers compared to the main attraction of Copan.
Well is not off the beaten path...but if you want to visit the tunnels under the temples, you have to pay an extra fee, it really worth it¡