Copacabana, Titicaca and the Isla del Sol, Bolivia


Route La Paz, Bolivia – Copacabana, Bolivia (RN2)
Distance 144Km
Travel Time 4 hours
Road Conditions Good tarmac after La Paz, bumpy just before ferry crossing
Weather Mild
Terrain Altiplano, monotone
Food and Petrol Frequent
Accommodation Hostal Los Andes, Copacabana


Copacabana is about three hours ride from La Paz on a reasonably good asphalt road, with a ferry crossing just about 10Km before Copacabana (at negligible cost). This territory is still very high up, around 3800m, and therefore monotone and dusty.

Copacabana is a small town with a few interesting buildings but most visitors seem to stick near the water’s edge; that is, the shoreline of Lake Titicaca: the “largest-highest” lake in the world and the largest in South America. There are number of hostels at reasonable prices there, small fish restaurants at the lakeside and a tourist strip with a number of hippy cafe/bars and eateries playing you soothing tunes.


One which has good food and probably the friendliest staff in Bolivia is Mauraz! The town isn’t so much to write home about, but it is a special place, being where it is, and offers some great views of the lake and surrounding ice-capped mountains.

We check into Hostal Los Andes (100BOB/dbl incl. breakfast) for one night and arrange to leave our motorbike and the stuff we don’t need with us in storage with them, whilst we go to visit Isla Del Sol. Isla del Sol is what most visitors really come here for. Reachable by boat, you can arrange day trips from Copacabana, but we opt for staying there over night. It’s a large rocky and hilly island in the lake, dotted with a number of ancient ruins from the Inca period.

In the evening we meet an English chap we know from Olivers Travels Pub in La Paz. From him we get word that there is a electronic music festival going on on the Isla at the moment too, so we’re (at least I am) excited about checking that out.


The next morning we get tickets for our boat trip directly from the office at the lake-front and soon we’re on the boat to the island. Having reached the island, it’s an almost immediate trek up a steep rock stairway to get to anywhere. The terrain is harsh, though evidently even the steepest of slopes here are put to agricultural use using stepped terraces reminiscent of the Inca civilization.


A few hostels and restaurants reside directly on this slope, but there are many more once you reach the summit of this hill. We check out quite a few of these, but by far the cleanest and best mannered ones are the final two places you reach just at the corner before the upper town where the way levels off a bit (both at about 40BOB). All the others we saw were dirty, and when we originally decided to stay in another nice-looking hostel further up, we found that they hadn’t changed the bed sheets, just covered over again with the blankets. When I asked the woman to change them, she only changed them on one bed. When I told her that, of course, we’d be wanting fresh sheets on both beds, she started giving some lame excuses about how this would be a real pain because she had so much work to do… unbelievable…


The music festival turns out not to turn out: around 20 people, all hemp and dreadlock types, dispersed around a fluorescent tent-like structure – but they at least seem to be having a good time. We mission down the steep slope to get there and stay for a beer but it’s cold and it’s dull and it’s getting dark so we decide to head back up to find some food – something which seems to be in limited supply as we find only one open restaurant.

We do the best possible thing we can do and buy two bottles of red wine to take to drink our hostel patio and watch the stars. A beautiful night. Later whilst asleep it starts to rain and we get dripped on through the ceiling and have to move the bed.



The next morning we get up early and get some fantastic views of the sunrise over the Andes mountains behind this vivid blue lake. This truly is a special place! And what better to hammer in that message than a magnificent breakfast?! This was at one little restaurant on the other side of the summit; I cannot remember the name but it’s about in the middle.


We spend the rest of the day walking around the South side of the island before catching a boat back to the Copa. We don’t want to leave the bike alone for too long. But I’m thinking it would be worth spending a bit more time here. The isolation, the spectacular mountains on the horizon over this brilliant blue water, the strong sunlight, the terraced slopes telling of a civilization long gone… All of these things fill this place a special kind of energy worth experiencing.