While likely not the place Barry Manilow sings about, you can visit Bolivia’s version of Copacabana situated on the coast of the world’s largest high altitude lake, Lake Titicaca. Located just across from the Peruvian border, Copacabana makes an easy stopover if you are heading north into Peru and is the perfect place to relax for a few days and enjoy life at a slower pace at 4000 meters above sea level. There is one central tourist street in town where you’ll find a range of accommodation options and a variety of restaurants; nothing of the gourmet variety, but good enough to suffice for a few days.
The main attraction in town is a visit to one of the lakes many islands, the largest and most popular being Isla Del Sol. For a hearty days adventure you can get dropped off at the north end of the island and then enjoy a four hour walk to back to the more populated south end where you can choose to spend the night in a number of the basic hostels available or catch the boat back to the mainland. There are no cars or roads on the island, all supplies are trekked in by foot or by donkey. Luckily for the most part the hike is flat with only a few uphill sections making the high altitude hike bearable, although you’ll want to load up on sunscreen as there is no shade for the majority of the trek.
Along the way you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Titicaca and a number of ruins dating back to the 15th century you can visit along the way. Archeologists estimate there are over 180 different sites on the island, although only a few are open and accessible to tourists. There are “checkpoints” along the way where you have to pay a fee to pass through the next section of the trail so be sure you’ve brought extra change.
Another popular attraction are the famous Floating Islands of Uros. Constructed entirely of reeds, about 44 small manmade islands float in groups throughout the lake. Overtime the islands begin to sink and therefore need to continually be rebuilt and repaired with new reeds from the lake.
Buses leave daily for Peru and La Paz, so connecting onwards in your journey is easy. Border crossing formalities for Peru are straightforward, simply hop off the bus at the Bolivia side for your exit stamp, walk across to the Peru side for your entry stamp and then reboard the bus. Most busses change or stop in Puno, Peru.
Jen’s Overall Recommendation: A great lake side town with spectacular views, ruins and hiking. Perfect for a two or three day stopover on your Peru or Bolivia travels.