Copacabana – Bolivia, not Brazil

Copacabana sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the largest high altitude lake in the world. It’s a three hour bus ride from La Paz with a rather interesting ferry crossing halfway through – everyone gets off the bus and catches a boat across the water whilst the bus is carted over on what looks like little more than a rotting plank of wood.

More raft than ferry

Although there’s not a huge amount to do here, it’s a popular weekend getaway for those from La Paz and a common stop on the gringo trail on the way through to Peru. It’s a pleasant enough place to spend a few days and I guess it’s the closest the Bolivians get to a seaside resort, given their lack of coast.

Copacabana

The main road is lined with bars and restaurants, all serving the usual repertoire of hamburgers, pasta and pizza, as well as the local speciality of trout, fresh from the lake, which you can have cooked in at least a dozen different ways for little more than a few pounds. It’s bright and sunny and you can easily while away an afternoon watching the world go by with a beer in hand. One word of advice though – don’t forget the suncream. While it might not feel hot enough to get burnt, at this altitude the air is thin and the pollution low, and before you know it you’ll end up with a rosy face – take it from me, I learnt the hard way!

Copacabana

Like I said, Copacabana is a through-route for travellers going to Peru. However, whilst we’re there, there’s some kind of dispute over mining and protesters have closed the border. We bump into the girls from Sucre again and they are unable to get out. It appears no buses are running at all and everybody will just have to sit tight for the time being.

The next day, and wandering through town we see signs outside tour agencies saying that buses are confirmed for tomorrow. However, when we chat to the girls a few days later on Facebook we discover the transfer wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped – the bus dropped them at the border where they had to bribe officials to get across into Peru, then had to walk for three hours with their rucksacks whilst protesters threw stones at them. Others are still struggling to find a safe route out of Bolivia, the airlines have hiked flight prices sky high and there are rumours of the border not being properly open until June. Thank God we’re going back to La Paz.

Copacabana

After a couple of days enjoying the sunshine, we catch a boat across to Isla del Sol in the middle of the lake – a lot of people just take a day trip but we’ve decided to stay the night…

Boat to Isla de Sol ( Click to Zoom )