Everyone says that the Copan Ruins pale in comparison to the Tikal in Guatemala and the Machu Picchu in Peru. Since I have yet to visit either one of them, I didn’t know what to expect. The Copan Ruins was about a 30-45 minute walk from my hotel, The Graditas Maya. You can also grab a cab ride for L10 (L = lempiras) on a three-wheeled motor-taxi, found almost everywhere in Copan.
As soon as I entered the gates to the ruins, there was a large booth to the right. A guide presented himself and told my friend and I that he’d been working there for over 30 years, overseeing parts of the excavation and doing numerous tours for people all over the world from Germany to Japan. Impressed? Me too.
He directed us to the ticket booth and told us to come back for a personal tour whenever we were ready. Instead of waiting for us to return, he followed us to the ticket booth. Red flag #1. He hoovered nearby as he watched us buy our ticket. Red flag #2. Our entrance fee was $15 USD per person. The two tunnels, which allows visitors to see the structures below the ruins was an additional $15 USD. We heard it wasn’t worth it so we decided to only purchase tickets for the entrance to the ruins.
The tour guide said he charges $25 for the two of us. I asked if he could lower it and he said no because he had to buy his own ticket. Red flag #3. I politely declined because that meant he didn’t officially work there. For all I know, he could be making stuff up on the fly. He tried to convince us that it was worth our time and that we could explore on our own after the tour. He whipped out his phone to show us the time but all I saw was a headless half naked girl clad in a bikini. Yes, very professional. Red flag #4.
My friend and I explored the ruins on our own and to be honest, you don’t need a tour guide. A Lonely Planet guide will do just fine. You can go at your own place, see what you want to see, read up on things that stand out to you and take it easy knowing that there isn’t someone herding you along just so he has enough time to pick up the next group of tourists.