Copacabana and Lake Titicaca | Bolivia

The city of Copacabana in Bolivia lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca at the altitude of approximately 4000 meters. Here I write about my trip and experience when visiting that sites. If you are thinking of visiting that region, or are just curious, maybe my journey can be of interest to you.

From La Paz to Copacabana | The begining of the trip

On October 27, 2016, I and my wife continued our travel in Peru and BolĂ­via, going to the town of Copacabana. It is located on the shores of The Lake Titicaca. That day we woke up very early and we had breakfast in La Paz, at Hotel Sarganaga, on the street of the same name, in the historic center of the capital of Bolivia, where we stayed and spent the previous nights.
After breakfast, we took a taxi to the bus station of La Paz. It was the doorman who called a taxi for us and we notice that he note down the car plaque number, certainly for a safety measure.
Arriving at the bus station terminal of La Paz, we took the bus of the company Titicada to head to Copacabana, starting the trip at 8:15 a.m. The ticket we had purchased in advance the day before. I must say that, there is also the possibility to take the bus in another place in La Paz, near a cemetery in a more central location, here many buses leave for Copacabana. However, the buses leaving the La Paz bus terminal are supposedly more comfortable and there is a better ticket control, with the identification of passengers. We chose to take the bus in the terminal considering the security factor, but according to some people say, it is not insecure to take the buses near the cemetery. Most of the passenger that were inside the bus were all foreign travelers like us. The bus was very good and comfortable with wide and reclining armchairs. Instead of 4 armchairs per line, it was only 3 armchairs and with air conditioning.

From the outskirts of the city to Lake Titicaca

The journey in the beginning it was a bit tedious, because the driver chose a path along some unpaved streets of neighbourhoods in the outskirst of the city. I do not know if was because he wanted to avoid pay tolls (I do not know for sure if they charge it there), or if it was  because part of the paved road was under maintenance. We actually saw workers recovering or building a bridge near the point where we caught the highway paved road.
From a certain point, already on the paved road, we saw perhaps small farms in some locations that seemed to be at the most semi-populated places, and further ahead we begin to see Lake Titicaca which is immense and with very beautiful landscapes.
Near the pier to take the motorboat to cross the lake
The ferry carried the bus and motorboats take passangers
Samll village on the other side of the lake

Crossing Lake Titicaca

During the bus ride, it arrives at a point where we have to cross Titicaca lake. All passengers has to get off in a small harbor. The bus goes on a small ferry to the other side while the passengers take an small boat, which shook a lot. We noticed that some other foreigners were apprehensive. For me and my wife was fun and the landscapes were beautiful. Everything still quite rustic, which gave a feeling of adventure.
When we got on the other side of the lake we had some time to walk around and eat something we bought from street seller that offered local food.

Beautiful landscapes

Then the journey continued, with beautiful landscapes because the road followed along the shores of the lake surrounded by slopes of mountains. From one side window of the bus we saw Lake Titicaca and from the other side window we saw slopes of the mountains covered with low vegetation, very green and also with many ruins of stone walls in many parts, what was an evidence of grounds for agriculture of the ancient Quechuas, which are commonly called The Incas.
One of the first views of Lake Titicaca during the trip
Mountains surrounding the lake and islands in the background
Magnificent views
Interesting rock formations
Landscape when getting to Copacabana in Bolivia

Getting to Copacabana and the hotel with great views of the Lake

When we approached Copacabana, from the top of the mountains we saw the city, or better say, an small town. The city is well spread also towards the suburbs or adjascentes areas, where we saw many modest buildings of apparent brick as we approached the city center.
When we arrived in Copacabana town, the bus driver's aide informed all the passengers that the hotel that stood beside the point we stopped, was offering rooms for 40 bolivars per person. We had understood that 40 bolivares was to the room, but when arriving at the reception, they said it was by person.
When we got to the concierge, the assistant person said that the promotion (or special offer) would be only for the rooms on the 5th floor (no elevator in the building), maybe trying to get more money. Frankly speaking, I was not willing to deal with a crook and I didn't want to give in. As soon as we climbed the first set of stairs, they noticed our difficulty climbing the stairs with our luggage at that altitude, almost 4000 meters. I think the reception staff thought that it was not a good idea to have a couple dying there and giving a bad name to the hotel (laughter).... So, they immediatelly call us back and gave us a room on the ground floor.
Anyway, it was a good bedroom with private bathroom overlooking a beach with beautiful scenes from Lake Titicaca. Although the view of this Mirador hotel was beautiful, the bathroom was smelling mold, because there was no window, and the hotel was built on a hillside. However it is a  comfortable and interesting hotel, interiors are a little rustic, but considered one of the best hotels in the city.
Despite of the issue when checking in, I would recommend this hotel as good value for money and great location. It is five minutes walking from the main street and close to everything, and the great view of Lake Titicaca is worthwhile.
Lake Titicaca seen from the hotel in Copacabana, Bolivia
The hotel in Copacabana, Bolivia
Lake Titicaca beach in Copacabana, Bolivia
Beach in Copacabana on the shore of Lake Titicaca

Exploring Copacabana on foot

We decided we would stay in Copacacabana until evening, so the hotel to us it was only a place to rest and use during the day. The city is small and you can do everything on foot. You can explore the city in just one day, and this was our case, except if you want to go to the Isla del Sol (Island of Sun). As we had already crossed Lake Titicaca and had seen beautiful landscapes of it, we decided not to go to the island because we were already happy with the scenes of the lake. As for the Inca ruins that can be seen in the Isla del Sol, for us it would be redundant, since on this same voyage we have seen countless ruins and archaeological sites quite important, as in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu and Tiahuanaku.

Just after a little rest at the Mirador hotel, we went to see and walk on the beach that is right in front of the hotel. The mixture of rustic and modern boats created picturesque scenes. Then we went up again up hill, on the same steep slope, walking slowly and stopping once in while to take the breath at that altitude, and we went to the bus stop to buy our bus ticket to Puno, the city of Peru that is also on the shores of the same lake. We bought tickets for the 18:30 in the evening.

We continue our walking in Copacabana town and visited the church and main square. We also walked along two narrow and busy streets with lots of shops, bars and restaurants.
For those who do not know, the city of Copacabana is also the equivalent of the Aparecida do Norte  to the Brazilians, or like the sanctuary of Fatima for the Portuguese, where there are important catholic temples. The church is enormous and has a huge front yard.
In front of the church there are numerous street sellers that offer small medal keychains, rosaries and souvenirs. Before purchasing something, you had better ask the prices because they vary from street vendor to street vendor. Each one has a different price, and some of them certainly give the price according to your face (laughter). We bought some small medal keychains and rosary for gift. In the street, in front of the church front yard there was a priest chatting with a group of faithful catholics who came to visit the church and sanctuary. Then  we asked for the priest and we got blessed by him.

We returned to one of the main streets plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. We stopped in a place to exchange  dollars for bolivares, because my wife wanted to buy an interesting T-shirt. Although it was a beautiful sunny day, suddenly came the rain that would stop us for a while on this street, where there was a marquis. The rain was not giving any sign that it would stop soon, so we went into a restaurant (end of afternoon), and we had lunch while it was raining. There was a little stream on the street in front of the restaurant. By the way, the food was good and not expensive!

After the late lunch, we went back to the hotel. It was not raining anymore and the sun was shining again. So we decided to go for one more walking on the beach. Near a rotten pier we picked up two pebbles to take as a little souvenir from that beautiful place.
Main street in Copacabana, Bolivia
Main street, inn, bar and restaurant
Street and shops in Copacabana, Bolivia
The Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana
Main street of Copacabana, Bolivia
Main street in Copacabana, Bolivia

Leaving Copacabana in Bolivia and setting off for Puno in Peru

Again, we went back to the hotel, got our suitcases and headed to the bus stop to take a line that would go to Puno. The bus line belonged to the same company that took us to Copacabana. The street where the hotel is located it was actually a steep slope, and it was very tiring to walk up hill at that altitude, imagine each one of us pulling a medium suitcase! Fortunately, we had suitcases with wheels!

It was near sunset, and we would take the bus with many foreign travelers like us. There was a nearby fair where we bought bottles of water and waffers before embarking. Eventually the bus started running, and we ate the waffers till the exit checkpoint of Bolivia. When there, all passanger got off the bus to show their documents.
Then the bus continued to cross the border with Peru. When getting to Peru checkpoint, we got off  again, and we entered the checkpoint to have the passports stamped again. It was already night.
We had sometime to walk around before the bus started running again.
The curiosity it was a stray dog that followed my wife, interested in the smell of an empty chocolate packet. Yes, dog likes chocolate, but it is said that they can not eat chocolate, because it's a toxic substance for dogs.
Another curious fact was when the immigration official saw in our passport a symbolic visa from Machu Picchu stamped on it and laughed!
From this point the voyage continued into the night, until we arrived in Puno City. It is also another city on the shores of Lake Titicaca and with many other attractions. Well, you can see my adventure in Puno in the next post by clicking here, on this link!

I would love to read your comments ! Was you there? Would you like to go there?