Copacabana is a town located to the east of Bolivia not too far from La Paz. The town is situated on the banks of Lake Titicaca, which falls on the border between Bolivia and Peru. You can expect the town to have a village-like feel with very friendly locals. Copacabana has a beautiful view of Lake Titicaca and offers many attractions based around the 8,200 square kilometer lake.
Isla del Sol is a must-see during your travel in Copacabana, and is the main tourist attraction in the area. Boat rides are organized to the island daily. The island is the largest in Lake Titicaca and is an ancient holy site for the Inca. On the island, you can expect clear water and Incan ruins. Incan history says it was at Isla del Sol that Viracocha, a god who created the universe according to the Inca, emerged from the water and created the sun. Now, I’m sure you will agree that must have been one hell of a party when Viracocha decided it was time to put together that ball of fire.
The water is the main attraction that brings people to Copacabana, and the best way to explore Lake Titicaca is by boat. You can hire different types of boats, such as sailboats, paddleboats or motorboats depending on your style. They are all are very cheap and charge by the hour. You can expect to get a paddleboat for around 2 dollars per hour, and if you feel like splurging, the motorboat could be for you at around 7 dollars. Although it won’t be possible to explore every crack and crevasse in the lake, given the its size, one thing you can consider while paddling away is approximately 60% of the lake’s water is situated in Peru and the other 40% is in Bolivia.
The Basilica in Copacabana is a rather large cathedral – the oldest in Bolivia – which houses the Black Madonna. Now, the Black Madonna is a dark wooden statue carved by the craftsman Tito Yupanqui. It was placed in the cathedral in 1583. The statue stands four feet tall and is famous in Bolivia and Peru for its miracle-making abilities. The story goes that a Brazilian fisherman caught in a storm was drowning out in Lake Titicaca and the Virgin Mary appeared to grant the fisherman’s wishes: he got to live through the storm. The Black Madonna represents Mary, and Copacabana was the surname of the Brazilian fisherman who lived to see another day. Both the statue and the Basilica are excellent attractions and a must for things to do during your time in Copacabana.
Something else you may wish to see is the excellent view at Cerro Calvario. Here you can look out over the town and the beach. However, it will take you around 30 minutes to climb to the top of Cerro Calvario and the trek is not for the timid. The climb can be strenuous, so make sure you’re up for some physical activity before you set out for the top.
To help your navigational skills while you’re in the city, the main square in the town is Plaza 2 de Febrero. It leads into Avenida 6 de Agosto, which will take you down to the lake. You can expect to find many souvenirs, craft stores, hostels, hotels and restaurants along Avenida 6 de Agosto and down near the lake. For a more local feel, you may want to head a block north near Avenida Jáuregui. The Copacabana markets open after 6 p.m. and are an excellent way to get cheap food and try some of Lake Titicaca’s trout. The lake is renowned for its trout, and you can buy these from the markets at very low prices. You can also try the famous trout at most of the restaurants in the town.
There is a broad range of accommodation on offer in the area to cater for for both travelers on a budget and for those who require slightly better quality, depending on what you’re after during your travel in Copacabana. You will also be able to spoil yourself if you want to spend a little more during your visit.