To the Ruins of Quirigua, Honduras and Copan

In an isolated pocket of rainforest lies the small archeological site of Quirigua with some of the finest carvings in the entire Mayan world. Only Copan (where we’re going later today) can match the incredible Stelae, altars and zoomorphs.


Entering the Great Plaza with the nine protected stelae. Amazing carvings, hieroglyphs and Mayan number systems.


A great example. King 18 rabbits. The site, however, is very quiet. Only a couple of other tourist groups. Travel is way down in Guatemala (as it is in many other places in the world). The country desperately needs injections of tourist money to assure further excavation, study, and preservation. Make your plans now.


The tallest of the stelae. About 25 feet and 65 tons of fine-grained sandstone. Fortunately it has hardened with age or it would never remain in this state.


The bizarre alter-like zoomorphs are carved with interlacing animal and human figures.


We climbed up to overlook the acropolis, ball courts and religious and residential structures. Back onto the bus to head for our border crossing into Honduras to see the beautifully preserved site of Copan. We cross easily at a special point where visitors are only going to Copan and returning.

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This is what the archeologists found. Just mounds. Under were the beautiful pyramids and temples. Getting them unearthed, however, is not easy. Tearing out the trees and roots caused much damage, so a new technique was developed to leave the roots in place while excavating.

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Scarlet macaws at a feeding station. They are prolific, kind of like ruins pigeons.

Copan ruins is enormous! We hitch a ride on an open truck just to get to the well-excavated middle…about a 10 minute ride.

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The signature of the king; 18 rabbits. Note the Mayan number system above showing three horizontal lines. each line represents the number five. the three dots above the line represent the number three. Put them all together and you have 18. See, you can now count in Mayan.

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Near the ball court is the famous hieroglyphic stairway, an astonishing monument…the whole side of the temple. 2200 glyph blocks form the carved sequence. From about 710 AD, early archeologists botched putting it together after an earthquake. Modern computer technology was necessary to get it back together in it’s proper sequence.

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A view of the reconstruction.

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Rubble from earthquakes and age still sits jumbled on the jungle floor, including wonderful carvings like these. Wonder if they will ever find their original places?

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After a long climb…this spectacular sight. It’s everywhere you look. The more you climb, the more you uncover.

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Supposed to be frightening something away I guess. We did get a little scared turning this corner.


Marsha thought she found a throne in the shade of this hollow tree. It was a “throne”…a Mayan potty.


Plants something like Birds-of-paradise found this paradise.


The Mayans had a pretty good sense of humor too…evidenced by this dancing jaguar. It was in a private courtyard just outside the king’s residence where he could be entertained by dancers and singers.

Quite a place, quite an experience burned in our memories.

Tomorrow we leave the ruins of the Mayan highlands and ride back to see the panorama of Guatemala City and continue to Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world.

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3 Responses to To the Ruins of Quirigua, Honduras and Copan

  1. Pauline Candaux says:

    Great, clear photos! Thanks. Looks like an amazing trip.

  2. Yasuko says:

    How adventurous of you. What tour are you on? It looks like a semi-private tour…

  3. Rhoda says:

    unbelievable, beyond awesome! you guys are amazing. Rhoda

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