Things to Do in Copan
The attractively designed and well-run Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve grew out of a mission by a couple of American expatriates to care for stressed-out birds that had been mistreated as pets. Biologist Lloyd Davidson and business partner Pat Merritt purchased nine acres containing old-growth mahogany, Spanish cedar, fig trees, and other local species. They opened to the public in 2003 and now take care of more than 100 birds.
In a wooded area interspersed with coffee plants, the residents stay in large aviaries visitors can walk through, but get out in controlled sessions to climb on visitors’ shoulders. Tropical birds, owls, and hawks recover from past abuse while eating a proper diet. Butterflies and wild parakeets make a regular appearance while orchids line many of the trails. If the tropical heat gets to be too much, there’s a cool natural bathing hole on site.
Appropriate to the name, there are five kinds of Macaws at this bird park, though occasionally some leave to go live on their own. Many species of parrots and toucans make this a colorful—and noisy—place to visit.
Part of the property was previously a coffee plantation, so those plants live on and are harvested for shade-grown coffee. Beans from here and another farm the owners have go into the coffee brewed and sold by the bag on site. There’s also a historic coffee roasting house for demonstrations.
Ceramics, stone fragments, and other artifacts from the Mayan Ruins of Copan are on display at this small museum. While outdated when compared with the newer—and very impressive— Sculpture Museum, it’s still worth a stop. Highlights include the complete burial of a female shaman, which offers a fascinating glimpse into Maya death rites.
This small interactive Casa K’inich Museum (Museo Casa K’inich) is a worthwhile visit for families, though opening hours can be more of a guide than a reality. It contains musical instruments and clothing items, as well as lessons on how to count in the ancient language and play their ball game.
The non-profit museum provides insight into the advanced astronomy and math knowledge of the Mayan elite, as well as a look into how the regular people lived their lives. All 34 exhibits have explanations in English and are meant to be touched.
This building was originally a barracks, so if you climb the ladders into the turrets you’ll be rewarded with an expansive view over the town and the Río Copan Valley.
This fascinating archaeological site provides insight into how the ruling families lived in the heyday of the Maya people. It also explains how long periods of peace were not sustainable: the number of elites grew faster than the taxes and tribute to support their lifestyle. They ate well and lived long lives, while each of their many children grew up expecting the same.
In Las Sepulturas (“the tombs”) area of the archaeological park, archaeologists found over 500 skeletons, so this area served as both living quarters and graveyard, new homes built on ancestral tombs. Don’t expect elaborate mansions though: most living was done outdoors and meals were prepared in a communal kitchen. This is a spot where a good guide can bring sense to it all.
Many of the adornments from the area are housed in area museums, but some carvings and reliefs are still in place.
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