Copán & Río Dulce
Maya Ruins in Honduras & Carribean Flair
The archeological site of Copán (Honduras), 7 miles from the Guatemalan border, shows the most elaborately decorated monuments & steles of all Mayan cities. The Ball Court is considered the social center of the city and is by far the most artistic ball court in Meso-America. Unique to it are the markers on the side walls, resembling macaw heads. The Great Plaza is famous for its stelae and altars that are scattered around this immense plaza. Many of the altars have a zoomorphic form. The Hieroglyphic Stairway holds the longest known text left to us by the ancient Maya civilization.
Quiriguá, a smaller site, about 25 miles from Copán, offers enormous carved rocks & huge steles, amongst them the tallest ones found in the Mayan World. This includes unusually huge stelae elaborately carved from single blocks of stone, the largest being 10 meters (35 feet) tall and weighing some 60,000 kg (65 tons).
Flowing down to the Caribbean Coast from Lake Izabal (Guatemala’s largest lake) is the 26-mile jungle-bordered Río Dulce. Along the banks of the river are many natural and historic sites including the Castillo San Felipe, built by the Spanish to protect the coast from pirate attacks, and sulfuric hot springs. Located in the north central part of Rio Dulce’s El Golfete in Izabal is a 17.791 acre protected area created to preserve the manatee (sea cow) the largest mammal in Guatemala. Its habitat is within the connecting lakes of the reserve and the Rio Dulce, and between the Rio Dulce and the Caribbean Sea. Most of the protected area is broken and rugged terrain crossed by the Chocon Machacas and Cienaga rivers. The area has at least 60 species of trees, approximately 180 migrating bird species, of the existing 300, and a large variety of mammals, fish, turtles, toads, frogs and iguanas.