Of all the border crossings we experienced in Central America, getting from Guatemala to Honduras was far and away the most difficult. We were told that our efforts were futile almost the whole way and ended up in towns that don’t even have sections written about them in most guidebooks.
The Internet told us that the only way to get from Lanquin to Copan Ruinas was to backtrack through Antigua, head to Rio Dulce and cross the border there. We were less than enthused at the prospect of heading back down the mountain toward Antigua, so when we overhead a pair of German brothers, who had been on our Semuc Champey tour, discussing their plans to accomplish the same journey we jumped in to see if they had found any creative solutions.
They had booked a shuttle through an agency in town that involved no backtracking and required only one transport change. Take that silly Internet! We tracked down the “agency”, which turned out to be a kid and his mom working in the hallway of a random building, to buy matching tickets.
At 6 am the next morning a shuttle showed up at our hostel to pick us up. On time! So far so good. We promptly went to sleep, assuming it would be smooth sailing to the border. While we were sleeping one of our German companions (who thankfully spoke fluent Spanish) had a long conversation with our driver and discovered that our shuttle was not in fact headed to Honduras and that, just like everyone had told us, there was no public transport going to that crossing. We had been sold tickets to El Rancho, Guatemala, not Copan Ruinas, Honduras. So… we spent the rest of the day piecing together a route to Honduras that ended up requiring six different forms of transport.
The four of us got off our first shuttle in El Rancho (which I can’t even find on a map, maybe it’s a name for the shuttle depot?), and being the only white people in sight, we were immediately swarmed by “van criers” wanting our business. Our original driver pointed us to a van headed to Chiquimula, which we were told is a major transport hub for locals in southern Guatemala.
On the outskirts of Chiquimula we were asked to change to another bus/large van. I am not really sure why we changed buses, none of the locals joined us, but we made it into town where we caught a bus to the border town El Florido. This final Guatemalan bus was extremely full and comically short (height). The passengers in the back had to climb out the windows to exit, since the aisles were filled with people, and Logan and I both had to stand in the doorway with our heads bent so that we could fit. Neither of us are particularly tall, but apparently even 5’7” is giant in Guatemala, and Logan (who is only 5’9”) was EASILY the tallest person on the bus.
We were the last four passengers, but after hours of confusion and uncertainty that we were even headed in the right direction, we made it to the border!! Hallelujah!!
Since we were the only people at that border crossing, we walked right in, got stamped and were on our way. The final leg of the trip was a fifteen-minute collectivo ride to Copan Ruinas. After 10 hours (which honestly isn’t too bad considering how impossible our journey felt at time) we were finally able to grab some food, a much needed alcoholic beverage, and relax.
PICTURE OF COPAN
Lanquin, Guatemala to Copan Ruinas, Honduras Round Up
- Shuttle from Lanquin to El Rancho. (3 hours)
- Shuttle from El Rancho to Chiquimula (change to bus outside of Chiquimula). (3 hours)
- Bus Chiquimula to El Florido. (3 hours)
- Walk across the border to shuttle waiting to go to Copan Ruinas. (15 minutes)
This looks so much simpler than it was when it’s laid out like this… I think this route is confusing mostly because for some reason no one seems to be traveling along it… This was one of the only days in nine weeks where we didn’t see a single other traveler the entire day.
Dollars and Sense
Lanquin to El Rancho $15/ person
*We got REALLY ripped off by the “agency” in Lanquin. If it doesn’t seem like an agency it probably isn’t. Lesson learned.
El Rancho to Chiquimula: $3.50/ person
Chiquimula to El Florido: $1.75/ person
El Florido to Copan Ruinas: $1.00/ person
TIP: As with any border crossing make sure you get STAMPED OUT of the country you are leaving as well as STAMPED IN to the next country. YOU NEED TWO STAMPS PER CROSSING.