Absolutely stunning! The view from the garden of Hacienda San Lucas was breathtaking. Reminding me of the beauty of the undulating hills of Umbria, Italy. To the left of the panoramic view, the red tiled roofs of the small town sent out a gentle invitation to come explore its cobbled streets. To the right, shrouded by thick forest, was a glimpse of the Mayan ruins after which the town is named. Copan Ruinas, Honduras!
Hacienda San Lucas itself was a gorgeous option for accommodation. The property, which has been in the family of the owner for over 100 years, has arguably the best view in town and also guards its own treasures, such as the nature trails. One of which leads to another Mayan ruin, Los Sapos. Throughout our stay at the hacienda, we bumped into serious Birders on the lookout for feathered wonders. We adored waking up to birdsong, watching a group of blue jays sweep in for a visit during breakfast, spotting a mot-mot in the tree branch above our heads, the oropendula call in the evening... Whilst sipping Copan coffee late one morning, our necks were craned up towards the treetops, looking up at a pygmy owl. It didn't do anything but blink, but it was wonderfully comforting to know it was there, part of our environment... Or were we part of his?
Our cabin was a recent addition to the hacienda. Constructed with local materials, stylish in the choice of timber and textiles, and environmentally conscious using solar generated electricity and drinking water provided in glass jugs. In fact, you will not find a single disposable plastic water bottle at the hacienda. They do not stock them, instead the hacienda has stations with water in glass jugs. I love this policy.
We could so easily have spent our entire time at the hacienda, but you don't go to Copan Ruinas and not at least visit the ruins. Saying that, we did not visit the ruins on our first day waking up to this rich region. I enjoyed the mystery of the view out to the yet-to-be-explored ruins too much to let go of that sensation so soon. Instead, we headed to town.
In the town's plaza, we were impressed by its two museums, the relaxed atmosphere and its people. We bought a bag of rambutans from a street vendor and strolled about town eating the delicious fruit of the season whilst browsing the shopfronts of various hotels, boutiques, bakeries and eateries. An appetite built, it was time for lunch and we chose Via Via, for the promise of good company on top of good food. We were lucky to spend some time chatting with the Belgian owner of the restaurant, Gerardo. A self-confessed number nerd, Gerardo explained how, statistically, Copan Ruinas was the safest tourist destination in Latin America. He also insisted that we visit Macaw Mountain, after our planned visit to the Mayan ruins the following day. I would have loved to have taken Gerardo's 'Alternative Copan' walking tour, as he spoke about the town with such passion. I hope I'll get the chance during a return visit.
Passing Casa Kinich which housed the children's interactive museum (we would return there another day), our next stop was The Tea & Chocolate Place. There, in a warm and cozy haven, we met Carolina, an anthropologist by training and a diamond person by nature. She appeared to be crafting beautiful magic as she brewed tea and had me spellbound with talk of her community work. Over a cup of noni tea, Carolina recommended visiting one of the communities on the outskirts of town and spend some time taking ceramic classes with the local artisans.
Also at The Tea & Chocolate Place was archaeologist David Sedat, and listening him talk about his "encore career" projects was thought-provoking. There was something special about the venue and its people that had us making return visits. Or was it the chocolate fudge...?
The Mayan ruins. It was the sound that first struck me; life, birds. Then I saw them, almost felt them as they swept the air over my head with their incredible feathers. Scarlet Macaws, the national bird of Honduras. We spent a lot of time revelling in this most spectacular sight, before continuing down the forest corridor to the ruins themselves, one of the most important of the Mayan civilisation, where you will feast upon the most intricate relief work that has survived from the Mayan world. Stellar Stelae! (Don't skip the museum, and entrance to Sepultura, another Mayan site, is included in the price of your ticket, which you may want to visit the next day.)
Macaw Mountain Bird Park, superbly constructed, crosses over a creek that runs through the mountain. It supports a variety of rescued animals and is a key player in the re-population of scarlet macaws in the valley, with its inauguration release at the archaeological site. It has a number of great spots to bask in the beauty that surrounds you.
Well, I haven't structured your three days in Copan Ruinas, but you have a wealth of options to plan your own days in this marvellous location and I still haven't mentioned the hot springs or the coffee tours. Enjoy!
Please visit haciendasanlucas.com for more details.