When we were first looking at the map of Guatemala and where we wanted to go we got fairly excited as the distances involved seemed pretty short in comparison to what we have been doing. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a bus system and instead we have to take shuttle buses.
Sounds like it should be easy enough, if not a little boring. However in order to get from San Marcos to Copan (a distance of about 370km) it has taken us a whole afternoon, a stopover in Antigua and another shuttle at 4am and finally arriving in Copan at lunch time.
It’s a bit annoying to be losing days to travel when it’s such a short distance but there isn’t much we can do about other than haggle the prices down, plug the headphones in and enjoy ourselves as much as possible!!
Once we arrived in Copan we weren’t really sure what to expect. The ruins are some of the largest examples of Mayan ruins and we were hoping that there wouldn’t be too many tourists there as it was pretty difficult to get to. Also Honduras isn’t exactly the place to go at the moment.
Copan itself is just over the border from Guatemala and in fact the town has really been built purely due to the number of archaeologists working excavating the ruins so only began in the early 1900s. It has then expanded due to the tourist traffic.
The town itself was fairly simple with cobblestone streets everywhere and a central square and market. The method of getting around was by tuk tuk and while the place was designed for tourists, there weren’t many around which was nice.
We had the afternoon free and so decided to head out to a place which had been recommended called Macaw Mountain.
The area around Copan and the ruins was once famous for its beautiful Macaws unfortunately poaching has caused the numbers to dwindle to almost none and Macaw Mountain was a project set up in 2010 to try and rectify the situation. They used rescued Macaws to try and get breeding couples who then breed and the young are released into the wild around the ruins. The recused Macaws that are dropped off are either injured or have been poorly cared for as a pet so come in missing most of their feathers. They get stressed and start pulling their own feathers out if their diet is not right or their owners aren’t treating them properly. We saw some in various stages of recovery and it was pretty horrible to see these beautiful birds with no feathers. It can take up to two years for them to recover. Some of them are too mentally scared to stop the feather pulling or have done it for so long that their feathers will never grow back. Very sad.
So far they have released 27 Macaws and it was awesome to see them flying about the site of the ruins. Although they are “wild” they were still provided with breeding boxes and we reckon they were being fed too but nevertheless it was still wonderful to see these birds flying about.
Our entrance fee at the park included a guide and we were lucky as ours was extremely passionate about his work there and so we had a very interesting tour. It wasn’t just Macaws there were parakeets of various breeds, owls and hawks. The most impressive other birds were the Toucans though.
They are just such an unusual animal with their huge beaks. Not only is the size of their beak so strange but the colours on the beaks seem unreal in their vibrancy and clarity.
On the whole we really enjoyed our visit and it’s going to be interesting to see in the future how the project goes and how many Macaws they manage to reintroduce to the area around the ruins.
We got home just in time before a quite spectacular storm came in for the afternoon. Luckily there was a restaurant just opposite the hotel and we were able to sit out on the deck watching the lighting!! While gorging ourselves on fantastic steak. T
A breeding couple. They mate for life which is pretty special. The guide told us that the Macaws used for breeding were birds that could not be released into the wild. They had 4 breeding couples in this enclosure which was big enough for us to walk in and the birds could fly around in.
This one spent pretty much the whole time we were there upside down.
Their feathers are just so spectacular. Too much so really as they are still being poached for their feathers or as pets.
The park was set in beautiful rainforest right beside a river.
An other variety of parrot that was in another enclosure. Look at those feathers!
Not only the birds but these ginger flowers were incredibly vibrant too.
These Toucans just look fake. Wonderful, but almost unbelievable in design and vibrancy of colour.
There were a few different breeds of Toucan at the centre some more impressive than Athens but still great to see them all.
A row of Parakeets.
Us able to pose for some pictures which was pretty cool. The makaws in this area are free all day and just put in cages at night. Unfortunately they have been in captivity for too long to be able to survive without being fed.