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, chances were good that I’d be impressed. The Copan Ruins was about a 30 minute walk from my hotel. I could have hopped on a motor-taxi, but thought I’d use the walk to explore my neighborhood.
As soon as I entered the gates to the ruins, there was a large booth to the right. A guide appeared. He told me 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.
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. He hovered nearby as he watched us buy our ticket.
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’d charge $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. I politely declined. That was a clear sign 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 in a bikini.
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 pace, 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.