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Published: June 23rd 2018
Learning to fly
Copan Ruinas is probably the second most popular destination for visitors in Honduras primarily because it is the base to see the best Mayan ruins in the country. I knew about the “Macaw Mountain” bird park but wasn’t expecting it to be anything special and it turns out to be just as good as the ruins. To have both of these in the same very scenic and visitor friendly (plenty of good hotels and restaurants) town make this a great place to stay for a couple of days.
Macaws, the largest members of the parrot family, are native to this part of Central America and were considered sacred by the Mayans, so there is a link between these two quite different attractions, though this might not have been intentional as the move of the bird park to this area was more due to the availability of cheap land than any conscious attempt to exploit a connection with the Mayan history. Though the park was initially setup primarily as a home for unwanted pets (macaws can live to over 60 years old so often outlive their owners) it has become a breeding centre and now aims to release macaws back into
Posing with macaws
the wild. There are wild macaws near the ruins so the reintroduced birds have joined an existing group and have become a bit of an attraction in themselves.
The park has a special aviary where they keep the birds that are being prepared for release. The notice says they are in “flight training” ie they are learning to fly… As well as macaws the park has parrots, parakeets and a small collection of other birds, such as toucans (that seem very cheeky), owls and vultures. As well as looking at the aviaries – some of them are walk through – you have the chance to be photographed with a few beautiful and very colourful macaws that don’t seem to worry about using me as a perch for a while.
The Mayan ruins are, of course, our main reason to come here and they are well worth the visit. They aren’t as spectacular as the ruins at Tikal since the pyramids here are both lower and not as well restored. Instead the main feature here are carved stelae and the largest Mayan inscription in existence; a stairway of 65 or so steps that documents the history of the Copan’s
rulers. To be honest it’s hard to make out too much of the inscriptions but I can appreciate the significance of this to archaeologists.
Copan Ruinas is also just a good place to spend some time and is home to some surprising eateries, particularly Sol de Copan, a beer cellar run by a Bavarian who serves his home brewed German style beer and good German speciality food; it’s all quite delicious and a pleasant change from the refried beans we.ve been eating for the past 6 weeks!
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