Copacabana’s charm as a city will not jump out at you upon arriving. The charm relates to the stories of history so strongly ingrained into the cultural body of this important site, but is also extended in the beauty of the natural setting. That being said most travelers come to Copacabana as a jumping off point for an excursion to Lake Titicaca. The town itself is hoarded by a multitude of tourism companies that press at visitors the moment they arrive. Personally, I much prefer the Peruvian side of the lake as it offers a greater variation in excursions. If you only have time to explore one side of the lake I would chose the Peruvian.
What to do in Copacabana
- Lake Excursion: Lake excursions are the thing to do in Copacabana. These tours can be organized very easily, as nearly the entire structure of town is based around the tourism enterprise. Isla del Sol is where Manco Capac and his sister consort were said to have risen, and is the popular destination on the lake. The island is worth a full day’s exploration so it is worth it to take a stay a night on the island.
- Copacabana Beach: Although you wont see the bikini clad men and women as you would at the Brazilian version, Copacabana beach is a great spot to grab some food, enjoy a beer and drink in the fact that you are standing at the shores of the World’s Highest navigable lake.
- Mudejar Cathedral: This is an interesting stop not only because of its beauty, but also to see the confluence of Christianity and the Andean cultures. It is well worth a visit and very different from the thousands of other churches in Latin America that all seem to meld together.
- Hiking: If you’re not feeling the strain of the high altitude there is a great quick hike to the top of Cerro Calvario. The hike is about an hour round trip and offers some amazing views of the city and surrounding area. This is a great place to watch the sun go down.
Where to Eat in Copacabana
Food everywhere in Bolivia is cheap, and although there is a huge tourist population in Copacabana the prices remain quite reasonable. I personally recommend trying the locally caught fish. Although trout was an introduced species to these waters, the way it is cooked and spiced makes for a very tasty meal. The best place to get fish in town is along the water, and a good fish meal including chips and a drink will likely cost you less than 5US$.
Where to Sleep in Copacabana
I’ve actually been through Copacabana on three different occasion. As such, I’ve stayed at two different places. There is a new HI hostel in town but you can get a private room elsewhere for between 5 and 10$ US if you have a tight budget. The Hostal Emperador, where I have stayed twice, seems to be the backpacker’s hideout in town. The cost of a private room with a bathroom and a hot shower costs about 5US$, and although the rooms are basic, for five dollars who can complain. The other time I was in town I was being put up, so I stayed somewhere a little more expensive. I stayed at the Hostal Real los Andes del Lago which for a private room with good hot water only cost about 15US$ for a single room.
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