PALENQUE vs. TIKAL vs. COPAN
Before the trip, when I was trying to decide which Mayan site I should include in the route, I dug quite a bit in forums and touristic guides only to get even more confused. Now that I’ve ended up visiting all three, Palenque, Tikal, and Copan, I understand why it’s so hard to recommend one over another.
is not only a spectacular site for Mayan architecture, but also a great time if you stay at El Panchan. You stay in the jungle, party with live music, and wake up to crazy bird songs and howls of the resident howler monkey. If you’re worried about bugs, pests, or valuable property, stay at a room with private bathroom and hot water at Margarita & Eds. If you prefer to take it all in, sleep outside on a hammock. Malaria is not a problem here.
is the place to be if you choose the keyword “breath taking”. This site is much larger than the others, and it’s “presentation” makes all the difference. Unlike others, Tikal does not just stand out in the open, but is burried deep in the jungle waiting for YOU to discover it. The visit is an adventure, especially if you first see it in a sunrise tour. Your stay however, is likely to be a bore.
is famous for the extremely well preserved sculptures and carvings, displayed both on-site and in the museum. The site is unique also because it provides access to some of its archaeological tunnels, which reveal parts of a preexisting temple beneath a visible, more recent pyramid. A full scale replica of the underlying Rosalila temple is at the heart of the museum. If you have a scholarly interest in Mayan cultures, Copan might be your first choice, as other sites have long been stripped off of their “valuables”. The nature is not half as rich as the other sites and the “nature trail” is nothing but a walk in the woods. As for your stay, Copan Ruinas is a cute little town with plenty of options for accommodation, food, and drinks.