Lake Titicaca: Copacabana and the Isla del Sol.

Entering Bolivia at Copacabana, it´s hard to remember this is a landlocked country. Wide enough the horizon is flat in places, with sandy beaches and the occasional seagull, Lake Titicaca is a beautiful concession for the Bolivian people´s stolen coastline. 

 

Although Copacabana itself is touristy, a beachfront plagued by swan-shaped pedalos, the lake is enormous. Walk for half an hour in either direction and you´ll be alone in rural Bolivia.

 

To the North, pigs and donkeys line the dirt road while indigenous ladies pick at the earth for their potatoes. With time, energy and the lake on your left, you can walk all the way to the headland and see the outlines of the legendary Islas del Sol & Luna. Along the way the countryside swaps between traditional farmland, the lake fringed with reeds and ducks, to severe rocky cliffs and tiny beaches below.

Copacabana´s port.
Copacabana´s port.
The Cathedral door in Copacabana.
The Cathedral door in Copacabana.

Walking is obviously free and there are plenty of places to explore, but for B20 you can catch a small boat to the magical Isla del Sol itself where the Incas believed their Sun God was born.


Apart from the various Bolettos (amounting to about the same price again if you want to walk the whole length of the island), life is equally cheap and even less stressful than the mainland. 

 

As there are no cars, the best way to discover the whole island, which is 14.3km², is to stay for a night and walk around at your own pace. The atmosphere is relaxed and with "ports" in the North and the South, we decided to walk up along the ridge in the morning and spend a night in the less populated Northern side.

The Isla del Sol.
The Isla del Sol.

This view is just a glimpse of the patchwork farmland and glassy, patterned water we could see below...

Exploring on foot you can find deserted beaches with crystal clear water, fishing families going about their everyday lives and a great view of the snowy mountains on the mainland if the weather is clear.

 

Amazingly we found a hostel with lake views and a private room for B20. To find it, in the Northern side of the island, cross away from the beach where the boats leave from to the quieter side of the headland where there is another stretch of sand. It´s called Hostal a la Playa

Below is the view from our budget hostal one evening... :)

Lake Titicaca is a beautiful, safe place to relax after crossing the border. If you have time for more than a day trip, you can also discover some of this altitude´s most abundant flora and fauna.

 

It´s important to note that at around 3800m, with strong winds and sun, it´s easy to get dehydrated or suffer from altitude sickness. Bring plenty of water, food, suncream and maybe a hat.

 

Useful information

 

Food

You should try the local fish. Trout (trucha) is especially popular and quite delicious when fried with butter.


Travel

  • Crossing the border from Peru we had no problems with immigration officials, but did have to wait for around two hours in the queue. It´s easier to travel to Puno first and onwards to Copacabana from there.
  • To the Isla del Sol it costs B20 one-way to the Southern Port (Yumani) and B25 to Challampampa in the North. If you catch the boat to the South and walk to the North however, you'll have to pay a B15 ticket in order to pass through the middle of the island, so don't be fooled into thinking that's a clever way to save money. 
  • To get to anywhere else in Bolivia the most simple is to take a bus to La Paz and onwards from there. The journey has the added excitement of a lake crossing. For this we needed to separate from our bus, pile into a little boat and watch an unlikely looking wooden raft carry the vehicles across.
  • Be aware that there are several bus stations in the capital. Be careful of dodgy taxis, instead ask somebody where to catch a minibus from. It´s cheaper and safer. 

Accommodation

  • Copacabana- Hostal Andino B20 per person
  • Isla del Sol- Hostal a la Playa B20 per person

Both were very basic, but clean with private bedrooms and friendly staff.

 

Thank-you for reading!


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Crossing the lake with the bus. ^

Write a comment

Comments: 13
  • #1

    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) (Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:03)

    I would absolutely love to visit Lake Titicaca and Bolivia one day - the scenery just seems stunning and how stunning those colours are in that sunset!

  • #2

    featherytravels (Monday, 17 November 2014 17:47)

    You should go if you ever get the chance! In reality those colours were even more amazing. I don't think my camera does the sunset justice.

  • #3

    zoe (Monday, 17 November 2014 20:02)

    Came across your blog via unbravegirl.com - I'd never had any interest in South America before (don't know why!) and now I'm compulsively reading all your posts and daydreaming of a trip to Bolivia... Lake Titicaca looks amazing! :)

  • #4

    featherytravels (Monday, 17 November 2014 20:47)

    Thanks Zoe! Really happy to hear that. It's the whole point of this blog really! :)

  • #5

    Franca (Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:30)

    This Island looks a nice place to switch off completely for a day or two. I find fascinating that there are no cars on the island, it's not a bad thing at all and surely better for the environment ;)

  • #6

    Charlie (Wednesday, 19 November 2014 03:50)

    Such gorgeous photos! The water looks so still and clear, wow.

  • #7

    featherytravels (Wednesday, 19 November 2014 04:04)

    Thanks for your comments Franca and Charlie, the lake is really even more beautiful than the photos. It's one of the magical kind of places you can't quite capture.

  • #8

    Elena (Wednesday, 19 November 2014 17:20)

    That burning sunset sky stole my heart! Incredibly beautiful.

    I remember reading about the Titikaka lake when I was a kid and dreaming away to the days when I can actually travel there myself. Hope I am enough of an adult already to take a trip there some time :D

  • #9

    Paper Boat Sailor (Thursday, 20 November 2014 06:55)

    What an amazing place to escape from a touristy crowd. I'm moving to Brazil next year and am excited about travelling across South America. Bolivia is high priority of course. Did you visit the salt flats?

  • #10

    The Travel Chica (Saturday, 22 November 2014 15:37)

    Didn't make it there when I was in Bolivia. What a great spot to watch a sunset.

  • #11

    Izy Berry (Sunday, 30 November 2014 20:24)

    Wow, that looks so incredible! Bolivia is so high on my list, it's not funny.

  • #12

    Nathan Anderson (Saturday, 13 December 2014 21:42)

    Amazing pictures, Katie! I really like that sunset one and the one with the building in the foreground and the lake shore behind. Good stuff.

    Did you make it to Isla del Luna?

  • #13

    quynh (Wednesday, 17 December 2014 04:36)

    Very nice post, i love your way to write your story and your pcitures congratulation

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