Day 1 – Saturday: US/San Pedro Sula/ Copán Ruinas Fly into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, arriving between 11.30am and noon after an approximately three hour flight. Those departing on other airlines may need to fly to San Pedro Sulas a day earlier and overnight in the city, or take a private transfer to Copán Ruinas […]
Fly into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, arriving between 11.30am and noon after an approximately three hour flight. Those departing on other airlines may need to fly to San Pedro Sulas a day earlier and overnight in the city, or take a private transfer to Copán Ruinas to overnight there. After passing through immigration and customs you are met by our guide and transferred to Copán Ruinas, about three hours away, and very close to the Guatemalan border. Our hotel is located on the outskirts of the town, with its own walking trails and extensive grounds. After checking in, cleaning up and relaxing there is an optional birding walk on the grounds late afternoon, or you can explore the trails on your own.
We start the day moderately early (as all days do in the tropics) with a light, quick breakfast then visit Las Sepulturas, close to the main Copán ruins but far less visited. Both are only a few minutes from our hotel. We’ll be combining some excellent birding with exploring the ruins under the knowledgeable direction of our guide, whose expertise includes both archeology and birds. After a couple of hours here we move the short distance to the main ruins, where we refresh ourselves with coffee or other drinks and snacks before tackling the superb ruins here. Fortunately the ruins, though of the highest quality, and with a considerable variety of buildings, are somewhat compact, so we can take our time as there is no significant distance to walk. Once again we’ll be looking for birds and other wildlife – the resident agoutis tend to stay on the edges of the open areas, closer to the shade – while taking in the extensive carvings on both stelae, and buildings that Copán features. (In fact a stele from Copán is used to illustrate the Wikipedia entry for the term stele.) Even for those familiar with other well-known Maya ruins such as Tikal, Caracol and others this ornamentation at makes Copán unique. While the typical ball field and pyramid type structures are here, there is also an extensive royal residence on one side, and other smaller structures – including the very well-preserved stelae and alters. Even without the birding two to three hours passes by very quickly here, with very little repetition. The layout is such that we can look across, down into an up to most of the features, as the general way to explore is to both on the ground and the structures themselves. There are several nice shady places to sit at elevation, for both contemplation of the ruins and for direct views into trees popular with birds, including Turquoise-browed Motmot, Masked Tityra and Streak-backed Oriole. After the ruins, and a refreshing drink, we’ll return to the hotel for lunch. After lunch we visit the impressive Sculpture Museum, adjacent to the grounds, and featuring both original carvings, stelae and sculptures, and also casts which show some of the features seen already in their original form, such as the main altar, with more original detail. Also here is a replica of a smaller building, still in place, within one of the larger pyramids. Normally these were destroyed when the new Ruler built his own temple, but in this case was preserved and built over. Archeological tunnels found this inner building, in perfect condition and still with the original paint due to protection from the elements. We then return to the hotel, and again our guide leads a birding tour for those who wish to participate. (B,S,L,D)
An earlier start today, with just coffee, tea or other drink to start us off, as we head out to La Laguna Road for some of the best birding of the trip. It’s drier, more open country, and so we want to have as much time as possible before the day heats up. The road traverses a variety of habitats from open fields and dry scrub to higher elevation pine-oak and humid pine-oak forest, with smaller areas of broad-leaved forest. At the lower elevations we’ll be looking for Elegant Trogon, Lesser Roadrunner, Salvin’s Emerald, Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo, White-throated Magpie-jay and Barred Antshrike, among many others. Around 400 species have been seen in the general Copán area. We may also see iguanas here. Higher along the road we’ll be looking for the beautiful Elegant Euphonia, Emerald Toucanet, Golden-olive Woodpecker and yellow-throated Brush-finch, again just a few of the many possibilities. We’ll make both breakfast and lunch picnics today, to allow more time to enjoy the forests and wildlife of this areas. Late this afternoon, after cleaning up at the hotel, we’ll visit the town itself, one of the best preserved in Honduras. At the same time it is very lived in, so we’ll see both the colonial architecture and today’s way of life in a small Honduran town. There’s a time to get some souvenirs and gifts, and then we’ll have a traditional meal at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
We say farewell to Copán Ruinas this morning and head back to San Pedro Sulas and then east to The Lodge at Pico Bonito. Depending on how our group feels we may make a detour to a nice waterfall along the way to break the journey. Lunch will give us chance to stretch our legs if we don’t make the detour, as the journey takes about six and a half hours. As on the transfer in our guide will be with us, so we can make stops if his keen eyesight – or the group’s – sees a bird of interest along the way.