Fun Fact: There are 2 Copacabanas! The more recognizable one is located in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, but little did we know, there is also one in Bolivia, which is a very popular small town bordering the famous Lake Titicaca. Our main reason for going to Bolivia was to visit the Uyuni salt flats (check out the full post here), but we wanted to make the most out of our trip and explore other cities around the country as well. Copacabana is an easy 1-3 day trip from La Paz, so we decided to end our trip in the closest place we could call a “beach getaway”!
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to Copacabana is definitely the easiest by bus, and for as little as $5USD each way, you can get there with many different bus companies. After searching around for a while for the safest and best way to get there, we decided on Bolivia Hop since they boast that they are “Flexible, safe and fun”. You can basically customize your itinerary to many different towns, not just in Bolivia, but also in Peru. For just $29USD, we were able to get a round trip ride from La Paz to Copacabana as well as round trip ferry tickets from Copacabana to Isla del Sol.
We were picked up at our hostel at 6:30am in the morning and picked up other passengers along the way before heading straight to Copacabana at 7am. The ride is actually really unique, since you have to get off the bus at the ¾ mark to get on a ferry and cross the Strait of Tiquina. Even the bus gets on it’s own vehicle transport boat to the other side. This entire process takes only about 15-20 minutes and you just hop back on the bus on the other side of the water (Similarly, you need to do the same ferry crossing the way back to La Paz ). From here, it only takes about another hour and we arrived in Copacabana just around before 11:30 am right near the water (very easy to find). Bolivia Hop also provides a water bottle for each trip makes about 2 stops each way for bathroom and snack breaks. On the way back, you get dropped off very close to your accommodation which is really convenient!
I really enjoyed using Bolivia Hop because they have a very efficient and flexible system. We were able to change the day we wanted to head to Isla del Sol, and it was very easy to find and communicate with the bus tour guides. Check out their Instagram page and see if you can spot me in some of their posts!
WHERE TO STAY
Hostal de Las Olas
Our accommodation in Copacabana was easily the highlight of the trip, as Hostal de as Olas was a paradise away from home. For 70 bucks a night, we had the cutest 2-story bungalow to ourselves complete with our own outdoor patio and hammocks for lounging over Lake Titicaca and the town. We had 2 double beds, 1 single bed, and even another hammock upstairs, not to mention floor to ceiling windows, a firepit, and a stone-walled shower. The cherry on top for me was the farm animals on property. There are 2 alpacas (+3 more friendlier ones at La Cupula Hostel next door), a dog, and a cat that kept following us around. I even saw a mama pig and her 6 piglets from Las Olas’ property. The staff here are super helpful and attentive, helping out with our fire-making issues and our luggage whenever we needed. I highly, highly recommend this place for its views, staff, location, and ambiance, though there are many other accommodation options that may also offer these amenities and looked great when we passed by in town.
THINGS TO DO
Copacabana is not a large town, and we quickly realized this when we could self-navigate ourselves after the first few hours. Although we didn’t venture too far out (a lot of the souvenir shops and cafes start looking the same after an entire week in Bolivia), we did come to love the few bustling street of town, especially Av de Agosto, where many of the main cafes and restaurants are located right by the water. We also made sure to spent at least some time on the benches overlooking lake Titicaca each day, watching school children play and trying to see life here from the many stray dogs’ perspectives.
Take a ferry to Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun)
A trip to Copacabana would be incomplete without taking the 1 hour ferry to Isla del Sol, an island just Northwest of the Copacabana peninsula. According to Incan lore, Isla del Sol is both the birthplace of their revered Sun God and the world’s first two Incas, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (the Adam and Eve of the Andes).
Our Bolivia Hop tickets (in the form of a wristband) covers the <$1USD ferry ticket fee, but you can also purchase them on your own from the ticket booths near the docks. Since we organized our trip with BH, we were able to hop on a BH boat with those who also signed up for the same visit that day and our names were marked off of clipboard when we indicated when we wanted to visit on our bus ride from La Paz to Copacabana.
We took our ferry at around 1pm and arrived just about an hour later. Although we did have a tour guide for the transportation portion of the trip, he explained that we were free to do the 45 minute scenic hike on our own and that he would meet us on a different dock at the completion of the hike around the island. The entire island is only 5.5 square km, so you can really explore it in just a few hours. For those who want to spend a night or two on the island, there are a few hostals you can choose from.
Hike up Cerro Calavario (Calvary Hill)
It was definitely easy to stay active during our trip, especially with mountain biking Death Road and hiking Valle de la Luna on the itinerary. While our visit to Copacabana was definitely more slow-paced than La Paz and Uyuni, we did find a way to get some steps in with a hike up Cerro Calavario on our last full day in Bolivia. The hill starts near the red chapel at the end of Calle Destacamento 211, though we began our trail walking up a dirt trail next to our Hostal de Las Olas. I've been on some pretty treacherous and rocky hiking trails before, and this one I would categorize as moderate to strenuous. The sun was beating down hard on us despite 55 degree weather, and it took us about 45 minutes to climb to the very top. At the top of the hill you can find a few drink vendors and souvenir stands, along with lined monuments representing the 14 Stations of the Cross, which was built in the 1950s. Apparently, Pilgrims climb this hill for penance and prayer, though many tourists now climb it for the incredible views over Copacabana. We spent about another hour at the top, hanging out, admiring the views, and taking some cool pics and the top with our matching scrunchies we bought back in La Paz.
Our first priority after checking into Hostal de Las Olas was to find food (of course), so we headed straight to Pit Stop for our first meal in Copacabana! This small shop quickly became our go-to during the week, since we literally came here 3-4 times in a span of 2.5 days. They serve up a delicious variety of fresh meal and veggie empanadas, made-to-order pizzas, and a unique daily assortment of desserts (papaya tart, chocolate cake, jelly-filled doughnuts, etc.) The best part about Pit Stop is that it is owned by a couple with two adorable kids who are always running around and simply enjoy life.
When I travel to a different country and city, I always make sure to do some research regarding the local specialities and cuisine. Copacabana is known for their trout, so I made it a point to order to for dinner every night we were there. La Orilla is located right on the main street in town, Av de Agosto, so it's easy to find. While I ordered the stuffed trout (bottom left), my friends ordered the curry trout (bottom right), and fajitas (top). Bolivian food can be quite heavy with lots of carbs and heavy meats, so having a seafood dinner with some veggies was perfect toward the end of a food-filled week.
We spent our last morning enjoying the most beautiful and delicious breakfast spread at Café Bistrot. We ordered pretty traditional breakfast foods like eggs and bacon, but my favorite things by far were the homemade fig jam and bread and delicious hot chocolate! The café itself was pretty empty on a Saturday morning, but it was perfect for a quiet meal with an incredible view by the water. It was the perfect start to the day before the strenuous and hot hike up to Cerro Calvario.
For those who may not know, I love alpacas and llamas so, so much! I got to chase them up Machu Picchu just two years ago, and I could not wait to frolic again with them in Bolivia. Cheers to these beautiful creatures!
And that is a wrap to my Bolivia Diaries! Make sure to check out all of the other posts here, where I detail out our entire trip itinerary. Until next time South America, stay beautiful!
P.S. Shoutout to my cuties for helping me take the best pictures on this trip. I can't wait to pack my bags and head somewhere else with you guys soon! Love ya!