Copacabana

For other places with the same name, see Copacabana (disambiguation).

Copacabana is a small town located on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca. Situated relatively close to the capital of La Paz, it's a popular resort destination for foreign travellers and locals alike.

Copacabana shoreline, from Cerro Calvario

Understand

History

This is the original Copacabana -- actually lending its name to the beach in Rio de Janeiro. The name derives from the Aymara kota kawana, meaning "view of the lake", and the region was revered by the Inca even before the Spaniards built their chapel of the Virgin and turned it into a Catholic pilgrimage site.

Orientation

The town's central square is Plaza 2 de Febrero, and from there Avenida 6 de Agosto slides down to the lakeside. It's packed with souvenir shops, hostels, and restaurants, largely catering to foreign tourists. Avenida Jaregui one block north has a more local feel, with street markets and grocery stores.

Get in

By bus

Local buses leave from La Paz cemetery terminal, while tourist buses leave from the main terminal; the fare is around Bs25 and travel time is 3-1/2 hours. At the Tiquina Strait, you get off the bus and take a quick ferry ride (Bs2) to pick up the bus (which is ferried across by barge) on the other side. Buses arrive in Copacabana at Plaza 2 de Febrero and leave from Plaza Sucre.

Buses also leave from Puno in Peru, and take roughly the same 3-1/2 hours to arrive in Copacabana; half an hour is typically spent at the border, just 5 miles south of Copacabana.

If you take a bus from Cusco to Puno, be aware that the saleswomen on the counters will be dishonest and tell you anything just to sell you a ticket! If you want to travel during the day from Cusco to Copacabana, you will need to spend the night in Puno, no matter what the bus companies tell you! The bus from Cusco to Puno arrives in Puno between 3-4PM. The buses from Puno to Copacabana leave ONLY at 7:30AM and 2:30PM. There are three companies leaving Cusco at 10.00 pm. In all three options you have to change bus in Puno! All of them arrive around 6.00 am in Puno, the bus on to Copacabana leaves at 7.30AM. Vans and/or shared cabs leave for the Peruvian border from Plaza Sucre as soon as they fill up. 3 Bs, 30 minutes. From the border to the Peruvian town of Yungani its about 2 km, 1 Sol by van. From Yungani to Puno buses and vans leave several times every hour, 5 Soles. This way is somewhat slower and less comfortable, but cheaper, than direct buses.

It is possible to get to/from Sorata without going back to La Paz. Get on a La Paz bound bus/minibus/micro from either town, tell the driver you wish to go to Sorata/Copacabana and you will be dropped off at the small lakeside town of Huarina (2 hours from La Paz). Cross the road and wait for a Sorata/Copacabana bound bus/minibus with space to pass. They should honk their horn if they have space and see people waiting, but it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye out and flag one down if you see it first. Best to get started early as you may have a bit of a wait at Huarina - it should still be quicker than going all the way to La Paz then 2 hours back in the same direction though.

Get around

The town is quite small, so taxis are hardly needed. From 2 de Febrero, you can hire pedicabs to carry luggage to your hotel.

See

Do

View of Copacabana from Cerro Calvario

The imposing hill of Cerro Calvario overlooks the town from the north end of the beach, and it's a moderately strenuous 30-minute climb. There are fourteen stations of the cross along the way, where you may want to stop and pray for stronger legs and lungs. The best time to go is around sunset, and hope the weather cooperates. Be prepared that there are tons of trash on the top of the hill!

On the other end of the shore are two hills with ancient Inca ruins.

Buy

Lots of stores and shops line the Avenida 6 de Agosto selling local handicrafts, alpaca wool garments and lots of hippies sell jewelry on the streets.

The Spitting Llama Bookstore and Outfitter has a huge book exchange, lots of maps, free tourist info, and new Lonely Planet guidebooks. They also sell and rent a full range of camping and travel gear. They are open 7 days a week 9AM-7PM. English is spoken. Tel: 2-2599073

Money

There is one well guarded bank in Copacabana on Avenida 6 de Agosto, between Plaza 2 de Febrero and the cathedral, with an ATM that only supports cards issued by the bank itself. However, it is possible to withdraw money from ATM machines inside; bring your passport for identification.

There are several cambistas changing dollars, euros or Peruvian soles, but with poor rates. Prodem also change dollars for a better rate and gives cash advances on VISA and mastercard creditcards.

(13\01\12)There is an Atm that accepts foreign cards on Avenida 6 de Agosto near the top.

Eat

The one and only culinary specialty is trucha, or salmon trout, fished from the lake. Practically every single restaurant serves it, and there's a long row of identical stalls on the beach. Many places also serve pizza and pasta, presumably for those who've had enough (or don't like) fish.

Sleep

Budget

Av. 6 de Agosto has enough hostels and inexpensive hotels to accommodate hordes of backpackers.

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Most hotels, hostels and tourist oriented cafes and restaurants have free Wi-Fi at acceptable speed.

Cope

Bolivia Weekly has English language news on Bolivia and Copacabana.

Go next

But since most tourist rush to the island after arriving and travel on to either La Paz or Peru, the town itself is pretty quiet during most of the day and makes it a nice place to chill out for a while.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, September 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.