UNESCgo: Honduras – Maya and Moskitia

The Bay Islands bring in the tourist crowds, but for Honduras’ two UNESCO sites, to the mainland you must go.

The cultural side of the ledger is the Maya Site of Copan, adjacent to the western Honduran town of Copan Ruinas, 12 km from Guatemala. Accessed by frequent buses from San Pedro Sula and points south, all road converge at La Entrada for the final hour west. The town has all the tourist facilities, guest houses from budget to boutique, hangouts with smoothies and pizza, and a museum closed for renovation.

The ruins are renowned in the Maya constellation for their stele and sculpture. The on-site, open-air museum is beautifully curated. English translation is abundant and the exhibits are educational.

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The ruins themselves are best for those stele, the famed Hieroglyphic Staircase and the neglected back area beyond the tour group circuit, El Cemeterio. The base ticket includes the main site and outlying site Las Seplturas, but the museum (worth it) and the tunnels (supposedly not worth it) are add-ons. Since the site is compact, it is possible to have a leisurely visit in a couple hours. The resident flock of scarlet macaws, part of a breeding program to repair natural stocks is a delightful touch.

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Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve showcases Honduras’ natural side. Part of northeastern Honduras’ La Mosquitia region, the largest rainforest in Central America. There are few roads so travel is expensive and often slow. Advance planning is critical, booking with travel agencies worth considering. Objective online resources are slim, but the print editions of major guidebooks provide valuable detail.

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