Honduras offers an array of vacation experiences, possibly more than any other country in Central America.
Copan Ruinas is a tranquil oasis of ancient culture and sublime nature nestled in the foothills of western Honduras, just 7 miles from the Guatemala border. For years, Copán has been renowned for its magnificent Maya Ruins, a designated World Heritage Site believed by archaeologists to be the cultural center, or the "Paris," of the Maya world. The town of Copán Ruinas is a beautiful little village paved in cobblestone and lined with white adobe buildings with red-tile roofs. In addition to the world-class Maya ruins, horseback riding to Hacienda San Lucas, a visit to the tropical bird park, and special presentation by resident archaeologists are all possible at Copan.
Pico Bonito National Park, the second largest national park in Honduras, is located minutes from downtown La Ceiba. It covers an area of 1073 square kilometers and reaches a height of 2436 meters. Due to its vast size and range of elevations it is one of the most naturally diverse areas in Central America. Pico Bonito is one of the least explored national parks in Honduras, preserving the park in its natural condition with only a handful of trails. Whitewater rafting, birdwacthing, jungle hikes, and day-trips to nearby Cayos Cochinos in the Bay Islands are all possibilities.
Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, offers some of the world's best scuba diving. The island is surrounded by coral reef providing calm, clear beaches for swimming and snorkeling, in addition to many varieties of sea life. Roatan makes for an ideal location for scuba diving, snorkeling, or just relaxing on the white sand beaches for a few days. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to make island life interesting, or if one prefers the tranquility of a secluded beach, Roatan offers plenty of that as well.
Day 1: San Pedro Sula- Copan Ruinas
Arrive San Pedro Sula International Airport. From San Pedro Sula, you will transfer by private vehicle (3 hours) to the famous Copan Ruins.
A Mayan capital from the 400s to the 800s AD, Copan is one of the largest and most impressive of all the Maya centers discovered so far. It consists of pyramids, temples and 21 stone pillars, or stelae, with exquisite carved likenesses of ancient Copan kings.
Arrive to your hotel for check-in and overnight.
Overlooking the Central Plaza in the charming town of Copán Ruinas, Honduras, the Hotel Marina Copan was named in honor of Doña Marina Welchez, and built on the site of her family home nearly 60 years ago.
Day 2: Copan Ruinas
After breakfast, join your local guide for a private visit to the Copan Ruins. The Copan Archaeological Park covers 74,130 acres/30,025 hectares at an elevation of 2,100-ft/640 m. Only a fraction of the ruins have been excavated, but as jungle growth is cleared away from each new section and more mounds are tunneled into, even more wondrous things appear.
One of the most spectacular was the discovery of the Rosalila Temple (named for its rosy red color), found almost intact under a later temple. An exact replica, painted in the same red, yellow, green and white colors as the original, is in the new Maya Sculpture Museum, located near the main entrance to the park. (The original temple can't be visited and is considered too sacred and fragile to be moved.)
In addition to the Rosalila replica, the Sculpture Museum now houses some of the original stelae from the park that were being destroyed by ground moisture and fluctuations in temperature. Though you may be tempted to bypass the museum for more time at the ruins, don't do it: it is one of the most rewarding parts of Copan. Copan's Hieroglyphic Staircase contains the longest hieroglyphic text in the world. Although its 63 steps are covered with a canvas roof, the 1,200 glyphs are still in danger from the combination of moisture and the salt in the stones.
Other highlights include the beautifully preserved and restored ball court (its acropolis was eroded by the adjacent Copan River, revealing a cliff face 121 ft/37 m high in which a number of earlier levels of building can be distinguished) and Altar Q, a box-shaped altar in the west plaza, which has sculptures of all of Copan's rulers sitting on glyphs representing their names.
This afternoon you will visit the bird park including lunch and nearby village of Copan Ruinas (the Marina Copán is directly in the center of the city.)
Although the ruins take only a few hours to see, the nearby town of Copan Ruinas is a tranquil place to relax for a few days. With cobbled streets, mom-and-pop eateries and tiny hostels, it is a safe and accommodating area to learn about small-town rural Honduran life.
Return to your hacienda and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Day 3: Copan Ruinas- San Pedro Sula- La Ceiba
After breakfast, return to the San Pedro Sula airport by private vehicle, for flight to La Ceiba. On the way, visit to the Finca Santa Isabel for tour and lunch. At this coffee plantation you will get to know the process of growing, harvesting and finally processing the coffee beans. This coffee farm is located in the middle of a rain forest and a unique experience.
Arrive La Ceiba airport, you are met in baggage claim and transferred by hotel shuttle (non-exclusive) to Pico Bonito Lodge. La Ceiba is set at the foot of impressive Pico Bonito Mountain, which is now part of Pico Bonito National Park, the country's largest and a good place to do some strenuous hiking through a cloud-forest environment. Lodge check-in and balance of your day at leisure.
The lodge at Pico Bonito is a luxury eco-tourism facility set on the edge of the park. A large butterfly farm is part of the lodge, with a "flight cage" where visitors may walk among many species of free-flying butterflies and observe all stages of their life cycle.
Pico Bonito Lodge
Day 4: Pico Bonito National Park
After breakfast, join the lodge guide for (non-exclusive) guided hiking, wildlife spotting and swimming in Pico Bonito National Park.
Pico Bonito is home to some rare and endangered species, including quetzals, tapirs, jaguars and pumas (though they're not easily seen.) Waterfalls are found in the park and are most impressive in the rainy season. The park is also a bird-watcher's paradise - some 285 species have been identified in the area.
Return to the lodge and enjoy afternoon at leisure.
Pico Bonito Lodge
Day 5: Cuero & Salado Wildlife Refuge
Today, enjoy a (non-exclusive) boat trip through the tropical lagoon of Cuero & Salado Wildlife Reserve and Manatee refuge. Among the wildlife in the refuge are wading birds, manatees, howler monkeys and Blue Morpho butterflies. Access to the park itself is by burra - small carts pushed along the old fruit company rail line by local boys.
Pico Bonito Lodge
Day 6: La Ceiba- Roatan Island, The Bay Islands
After breakfast, return by lodge shuttle, to La Ceiba airport. Arrive Roatan airport, you are met and transferred by private hotel vehicle Palmetto Bay.
The Bay Islands off the Caribbean coast are one of Honduras' primary tourism areas. They're popular with divers, snorkelers and anglers because of the extensive barrier reef that lies near the islands. The islands have a distinctive culture. Among the settlers were Cayman Islanders of British descent (both English and Spanish are spoken). The majority of the 70-odd islands in the archipelago are uninhabited. The main inhabited islands are Roatan, Guanaja and Utila, all of which have dive-oriented resorts that rent scuba equipment and arrange for boat excursions. Palmetto Bay Plantation is located on Roatan's north shore near the village of Craw Fish Rock, four miles from the town of French Harbor. From our white sand beach, you can walk miles in any direction and not encounter another resort. The morning sun rises to the sounds of the sea and the chattering of parrots. You can explore the property via eco-sensitive nature trails to view the vast array of tropical trees and flowers native to the island.
The resort's boat captain can whisk you away to the best places for fishing or snorkeling at the nearby reef (the second largest in the world). Kayaks are also available for unlimited use. The seaside pool is always open and massage services are available.
Palmetto Bay Plantation
Day 7: Roatan Island
Enjoy Roatan's Zip Line Canopy Tour (non-exclusive.)
On metal cables, harnessed with hooks and wearing heavy gloves, through treetops to eleven different platform locations. Breathtaking views of the sea and the white sandy beach plus a close-up examination of a relatively unspoiled jungle.
Return to the hotel this afternoon and enjoy the balance of day at your leisure.
Palmetto Bay Plantation
Day 8: Roatan Island
Enjoy the day at your leisure.
Palmetto Bay Plantation
Day 9: Roatan Island- Depart
You are transferred to the Roatan airport for your international flight home or on to your next destination.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
$2,750 per person, double occupancy, based on two persons traveling together
$4,325 solo traveler
$1,250 single supplement
Prices for your dates of travel may vary- please contact iExplore for an exact quote. Quoted prices are based on current rates of exchange, tariffs and taxes as of November, 2009. iExplore reserves the right to increase tour prices to cover increased costs, tariffs and taxes received after prices are published, and to reflect fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. iExplore is under no obligation to give breakdown costs involved in any package.
Airport meet and assistance
Transfers as indicated in the itinerary
Accommodations as indicated, on a twin share basis
Domestic economy class airfare from San Pedro Sula/La Ceiba/Roatan/San Pedro Sula
Services of English-speaking local guides throughout
Private guided tour of Copan Ruins, including lunch
Non-exclusive guided hiking/wildlife tour in Pico Bonito National Park
Non-exclusive boat trip tour in Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
Non-exclusive Canopy tour on Roatan Island
Entrance fees to the sites, as indicated in the itinerary
Hotel accommodations include:
Two nights at Hotel Marina Copan (Standard Room), daily breakfast, hotel tax, and service charge
Three nights at Pico Bonito Lodge (Standard Cabin), daily breakfast, hotel tax, and service charge
Three nights at Palmetto Bay Resort (Orchid Beachfront Villa), daily breakfast and hotel tax, and service charge
Airport departure tax
Meals, unless otherwise indicated
Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
Items of a personal nature
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.