Copacabana & Isla del Sol
A Paradise at Lake Titicaca
Copacabana is your destination if you're planning to visit lake Titicaca. The small town of 6000 inhabitants is located at a bay of the lake, close to the Peruvian boarder, on an altitude of 3800m. It is easily reachable by bus from La Paz or nearby Peruvian cities like Puno, Arequipa or Cusco. The bus ride from La Paz takes more or less 4 hours and costs 20Bs. (less than 3€). There are several buses and micros (shared minivans) leaving every day. The name comes probably from the Aymaran (the language of the indigenous community of the region) word „quta qawana“ which means view over the sea.
The city of Copacabana itself has not that much to offer, it is full of travel agencies, restaurants and souvenirs shops. To discover the whole center it takes less than a day but nevertheless it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in whole Bolivia. The surroundings are amazing, the city is enclosed by beautiful brownish to almost yellow colored hills. The coast with its stunning beaches, makes it the perfect location to relax and enjoy the lake as well as the surrounding mountains. The Titicaca Lake is by the amount of water the biggest in South America and also the highest navigable lake worldwide. Because of the high altitude it never gets really hot, you can swim but it is not a pleasure with average temperatures below 20 °C. During the day it feels quiet warm because of the sun, but at night it can be really freezing.
During the off season Copacabana is a very reasonable location for holidays. A Lunch in an eating place costs between 10Bs. and 20Bs. (1.30€ - 2.80€) and includes a soup, main course, drink and dessert. The more touristic restaurants are way more expensive, coming close to western european prices. A night in a hostel dormitory starts at 20Bs. (2.80€) and a private room with bathroom for two is available from 60Bs (8.50€). Like in the rest of Bolivia the hostels have a pretty poor standard, without lockers, run down beds, dirty toilets, slow to without WIFI and sometimes without warm water. But hey, who would complain about a night for 3€, basically a backpackers dream. If you're seeking for a higher standard you will find accommodation in one of the several hotels.
One of the main attractions of Copacabana is Cerro Calvary at the west bank of the city. Because of the religious meaning for ancient cultures like the Inkas and also for christianity, it is a popular pilgrimage destination. Besides that it is an easy and beautiful hike to the peak from where you have a unique view all over the lake and the city. Especially during the sunset it is a great place to enjoy the view. Often you can spot locals doing fires and ceremonies for religious or spiritual reasons.
Another popular sight besides Isla de la Luna and other small islands is Isla del Sol. A beautiful small island with Mediterranean landscape, Inca stairs and ruins from different cultures. In the center of Copacabana are plenty tour operators who offers the shipping to the island and back for 30Bs. (4,20€). The boat starts at 08:30 from Copacabana and reaches the north harbor at 10:30. From there you can hike 2km to the most northern point, enjoy the view over the lake and remains of ancient architecture, the entrance fee is 10Bs. (1.50€). The boat from the north to the south harbor takes around one hour and leaves at 13.30. So you have the choice to either go back to the north harbor and take the boat or hike the 7km. long Inca Trail (entrance fee: 20Bs. - 3€) to reach the south harbor. Once there you need to pay another 5Bs. (0,70€) entrance. The boat departs at 15:30 and takes two hours back to Copacabana. All in all a beautiful hike on an even more beautiful island, just the time is very short calculated, so we were basically just rushing from one destination to another. If you really want to enjoy this place and take all the time you need to visit the sights we recommend you to stay a night on the island. There is plenty free space to camp and also the hostels are not more expensive than in Copacabana.
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