It is time for our final destination in Bolivia: from La Paz we took a 4 hour bus to Copacabana, a small town on the shore of Lake Titicaca! At 3812 meters altitude, it is the highest navigable lake in the world, and also the largest lake in all of South America. Lake Titicaca is also quite an important place in Inca history, with Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna playing big roles, so we were eager to visit (and, also, to go to Peru!) and find out more about it.
There is not a whole lot to do in the small, small town of Copacabana, but we found some things to keep ourselves busy.
Climb to the top of Cerro El Calvario
Considering you’re at altitude, it might take you longer than you expect to climb up this hill, but please do give it a try, because it’s so beautiful from up there! I think it took us around 40 minutes, maybe an hour, and going down is a lot easier, of course.
Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana
From the mirador you’ll be able to see the entire town. If you hadn’t noticed this church in town yet, you’ll for sure have seen it after visiting the cerro. It’s quite a big complex, with several white buildings, but especially the details on the rooftop and the towers are beautiful.
We also went inside for a little bit, as there was a service going on, always interesting to see how that goes.
Other than that, we just walked around town a little bit, and got our boat tickets for the highlight of Lake Titicaca: Isla del Sol.
Isla del Sol
On Friday morning we woke up somewhat early for our 8 o’clock boat to Isla del Sol. The evening before we’d packed our day backpacks with everything we’d need for a (cold!) night, because it’s not recommended to take all your luggage to the island. Having to drag a big backpack over the hills won’t give you the best experience on Isla del Sol. The boat left a bit later than planned, but we arrived pretty much as scheduled.
A guide was waiting for us as the boat arrived, ready to show us the highlights of the island. He was very knowledgeable about all the plants, crops, animals and or course the incas that had spent time on the island.
The views from the island are beautiful! If it would’ve been sunny, I’m pretty sure it would have looked like a tropical beach!
After our little tour was finished, we had to make our way to the other side of the island, to the village of Yumani. We’d booked a room here, and this is also the spot from where to boats go back to Copacabana. So, we had the whole day to walk around 8.5 kilometers, from the north to the south of the island.
We had great weather with quite some sun and blue skies, although it was pretty windy, but nothing a hat and some gloves can’t fix. Also considering the altitude, it was a very doable walk. There are some parts where you have to climb up a bit, but nothing too crazy.
Crossing the border to Peru
How to cross
Due to the political situation in Peru (remember all the protests at the end of 2022?), crossing the border would be a tad more tricky than normal. But, not impossible! We’d heard about the boat that crosses Lake Titicaca from Copacabana to Puno. But… we wanted to try and do it by bus instead. With 0 knowledge about whether or not it would be possible, we headed into town to see if we could find someone that would know more about it.
Well, we didn’t have to look far! In the main street, on the corner of Av. Busch and Av. 16 Julio, you’ll find a little travel agency with big signs advertising the border crossing to Puno (both via boat and bus). The sweet lady running the place was able to tell us that from Friday to Sunday they open road. We still had some minor reservations, what if they would suddenly close the road again, for example, but we ended up booking our trip with her.
Going to Peru
On the day of, we had a van full of travellers (tons of Brazilians!) that were going to Peru. We left a bit earlier than planned, as everyone was ready to go and eager to head to a new country. Machu Picchu (among other things) was waiting!
Our first stop, the border, was about 20 minutes away from Copacabana. Here we stamped out of Bolivia at the little ‘migracion’ office. This took only a minute (like, literally!), and we walked across the border afterwards. This whole process went super smooth and took maybe 20/30 minutes.
We were in Peru! But, we wouldn’t stamp in to Peru until we got to Puno, as they had closed their office that was directly at the border. Unfortunately, haha. We got back in to the bus again, and had a 4 hour drive ahead of us, during which we would see many, many roadblocks.
Once we got to Puno, we drove straight to the harbour and got in line for our stamp. Unfortunately this took a tiny bit longer than the Bolivian one… about 1,5 hours. The officers took a bunch of passports at the same time, went inside, checked and stamped all of them manually, and gave them back. Maybe not the best way, but so be it. All in all, we were just glad to be in a new country!
Let’s discover Peru!