COPACABANA & LAKE TITICACA TOURS

The Bolivia side of Lake Titicaca is home to Copacabana, a picturesque little town which is the launching point for tours to Isla del Sol or as it is known in English - the Island of the Sun.

Copabana is also a popular stop on the route between La Paz and Puno/Cusco or Puno/Arequipa as it lies on the border between Bolivia & Peru.

Visiting and crossing the world's highest navigable lake is a special experience that you shouldn't miss.

We offer both tour options to Lake Titicaca and also arrange transport options to Copacabana to visit this iconic location. 

You can find all the information you need to visit Lake Titicaca below either with one of our Tours or by using one of our Transport options and exploring the region yourself using the information in our guide below.

LAKE TITICACA BOLIVIA TOUR OPTIONS

COPACABANA & SUN ISLAND 2 DAY TOUR FROM LA PAZ

Isla del Sol Lake Titicaca

This 2 Day Tour starts with a pickup from central La Paz hotels before driving to Lake Titicaca and the town of Copacabana.

After lunch in Copa we take a boat ride across Titicaca Lake to Isla de Sol (Island of the Sun) and we explore the southern side of the Island.We spend one night in a hotel on the island.

An early start next morning to visit the Pilcocaina ruins after breakfast before taking a boat back to Copacabana.

We have lunch in Copa and you can spend a short time exploring before you board onwards transport back to La Paz or onto Puno.

START TIME: 7.00 - 7.45AM   DURATION : 2 DAYS   PRICE: 110USD$  

SEE FULL TOUR DETAILS & BOOK ONLINE

COPACABANA & SUN ISLAND 2 DAY TOUR FROM COPA

Sunset from Copacabana Lake Titicaca Bolivia

This 2 Day Tour starts in Copacabana and to allow time for people to travel from Puno and meet the tour it starts around midday

First we have lunch in Copa and meet with any additional people arriving from La Paz then we take a boat ride across LakeTiticaca  to visit Isla de Sol (Island of the Sun). Upon arrival on  the southern side of the Island we will explore a little & check into the hotel.We spend the night in accomodations on the island.

We have an early start the next day and after breaksfast we will visit the Pilcocaina ruins site for a few hours before catching a boat back to Copa

We have lunch in Copa and you can spend a short time exploring before you board onwards transport back to La Paz or onto Puno.

START TIME: 12.00PM  DURATION : 2 DAYS  PRICE: 100USD$  

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COPACABANA & SUN ISLAND 1 DAY TOUR FROM LA PAZ

Copacabana Tour Lake Titicaca Bolivia

Our 1 Day Tour starts with a pickup from central La Paz hotels then drives to Copacabana arriving approximately 11.30am for you to lunch with a view of Lake Titicaca.

We take a private boat at 1pm across Titicaca Lake until we arrive at Isla de Sol (Island of the Sun). Here you will be supplied with a map for you to embark on a self guided tour and visit the Sun template and other points of interest

The boat back to Copacabana will get us back in time for a 6pm bus departure to La Paz and you will be dropped off at your central La Paz hotel at approximately 22.30pm.

START TIME: 06.30-7.00AM  DURATION : 1 DAY  PRICE: 29USD$  

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COPACABANA BUS TRANSPORT OPTIONS

BUSES FROM LA PAZ TO OR VIA COPACABANA
BUSES FROM PERU TO OR VIA COPACABANA
BUSES FROM COPACABANA TO LA PAZ OR PERU

Guide Last Updated : 27 June 2018

INFO ABOUT LAKE TITICACA

Lake Titicaca & Copacabana

Copacabana Lake Titicaca Bolivia

Lake Titicaca is both the largest lake in South America and also the highest navigable lake in the world (referring to navigable by commerical sized boats).

The lakes surface lies at an altitude of 3812 meters and it covers a area of approximately 8372 km2 with over 110 km of shoreline located in both Bolivia & Peru.

There are some 42 islands on the Lake with the most significat ones being Isla del Sol, Isla de la Luna, Isla Suriqui  which are on the Bolivia side and on the Peruvian side the Island of  Taquile & Amantani.

There are of course the famous Uros Floating Island near Puno on the Peruvian side aswell but these are man made and not included in the list of 42.

On the Bolivian side Copacabana is the most popular town to visit and is located on the short of Lake Titicaca around a semi circular bay that is surrounded by hills.Puno is the largest town on the Peruvian side.

There are a number of communities located all around the lake and on its islands. The following are the places that might be most known to tourists for various reasons

  • Tiquina - this is where the ferry crossings take place across the Tiquina straits section of the Lake that must be crossed in transit to / from La Paz
  • Desaguadero -  this is a border town the southern side of the lake. It is not commonly visited for tourism but the direct buses between La Paz and Puno/Cusco use this route as it is shorter than via Copacabana border crossing.
  • Huatajata - much closer to La Paz than Tiquina & Copacabana, the Yacht club and a few hotels are located here and a few trucha restaurants. If you want to visit Surqui Island then you can arrange boats transport from here.
  • Guaqui -  a town of some 8000 residents it has a port that facilitate larger commerical boats such as the catamaran boats used by some tourism companies. It also has an interestingTrain Museum.
  • Yampupata - this small community is on the end of a peninsula of the mainland closest to Isla del Sol. There is a trek from Copacabana to Yampupata (approx 4-5 hours) from where you can arrange boat transport to Isla del Sol or Isla de la Luna (from Sampaya)

Map of Lake Titicaca

INFO ABOUT COPACABANA

Copacabana Church Blessing Ceremony Bolivia

Copacabana Church Blessing Ceremony Bolivia

This small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca is for most people the prettiest of all the towns in the Titicaca area both in Bolivia or Peru.

Its location makes it a perfect stop for a few days for those traveling between Peru and La Paz or also a popular weekend getaway for Bolivians  that live in the city.

Obviously Lake Titicaca is a big part of the attraction but the town also has religous significance which draws many people from around the country.

One of the more interesting aspects of this are the daily ceremonies that take place in front of the church wereby people bring their vehicles to be blessed in an interesting mix of catholic and Aymara traditions.

The blessings are performed each morning ,usually starting about 10am, by either a catholic priest or a Yatari (Aymara traditional healer) or both.

The vehicles owners and relatives after the car / van / truck has recieved its blessing will ceremoniously douse it will generous amounts of beer.

They themselves have usually drunk a few cases of beer prior to the blessing and the whole atmosphere can become quite party like.

The weekends are the best time to see these ceremonies as this is by far the most popular time and it is common to see queues of cars waiting to be blessed.

Accomodation

There are plenty of hotels and hostels in Copacabana and it should be easy to find something to suit your budget.

We can highly recommend  Hotel Las Olas and Hotel La Cupula in Copacabana and on Isla del Sol there is a great ecolodge called La Estancia .

These recommended options are of course not the cheapest there is but if your on a budget then there are plenty of options for you but it is harder to book them in in advance, especially on Isla del Sol - you just have to turn up and check a few out.

During holidays and festivals though things fill up and prices go up so book in advance. 

This is especially true during the first week of Februrary when the festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria takes place. During this time prices go up, everything is booked months in advance and you will find 1000s sleeping in the streets.

Map of Copacabana Bolivia

Attractions to See

    • Basilica de la Virgin de la Candelaria - for such a small town the sheer size of this church (often referred to as a Cathedral) seems out of proportion but it is due to the fact that it is home to the most important statue in the country.
      Inside you can see the statue of the Virgen de Copacabana or "Our lady of Copacabana" who is revered as the patron saint of Bolivia. The statue is said amongst believers to have been responsible for a number of miracles.
      Every year in Februrary many thousands of people make their way on foot from La Paz ona pilgrimage to Copacabana to worship the statue. The festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria is officially form Feb 2nd through to Feb 5th


      Copacabana Church Bolivia


    • Lake Titicaca  & the Shore - just simply spending some time wandering along the shoreline by the lake makes for a relaxing change of pace. You can rent small boats  to go out on the lake and there are also various restaurants with a lake view.
      Get yourself a nice spot in the late afternoon to watch the wonderful Lake Titicaca sunset.

    • Cerro Calvario - a popular place to visit and one that offers fantastic views of Copacabana Bay and Lake Titicaca. This is where you get your classic photo of Copacabana with the curve of the Titicaca Lake.
      It takes about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your fitness or how used you are to the altitude. to walk up the steep trail from the town.
      Once at the top you will find 14 stone 'stations of the cross' monuments  that were built in the 1950s which add a bit of atmosphere to the already wonderful views.

      Cerro Calvario Copacabana Bolivia



    • The Bolivian Navy -  Yes , Bolivia still maintains a navy and its main base is in Copacabana. It is located down on the Copa shore to the far right of the bay and you can see the small Navel fleet moored there. They also run commerical tourist trips on their catamaran service that are popular with Bolivians during holidays.

    • Horca del Inca - translated as the 'Inca Gallows' is an archaeological site that stands on top of a hill to the south of Copacabana town and it is actually officially called Pachat'aqa (though it is easier to ask for Horca del Inca).
      Its name is misleading, likely given to it purely for its appearance by the Spanish, as it was never used as a gallows nor was it made by the Incas.
      It is in fact pre-incan and was constructed by the Chiripa people in the 14th century for use as an astronomical observatory for studying the sun, moon and starts in the skies above Lake Titicaca. 
      The site now only has one of the original 7  structures intact as the other have been destroyed by the Spanish.
      This was part of the reason its true function was only discovered in 1978 when it was noted how the sun shone through a set of rocks onto the Horca del Inca structure on the day of summer solstice.



Horca del Inca Copacabana

Shopping

Copacabana has an abundance of handicraft stalls and prices are often better than you will find in La Paz. The main street 6 de Agosto and  Plaza 2 de Febrero by the Church are the areas with the most concentration of shops & stalls.

ATMS/ Money

Whilst there are ATMs in Copacabana (Banco Union &  Banco Bisa) they usually do not work for foreign cards and there have in fact been reports of cards being retained.

We recommend you avoid trying the ATMs and wait until La Paz, Puno or Cusco to be safe.


There are a number of money changers that are located near  Plaza Sucre in Copacabana were you can easily change Bolivianos, US dollars and Peruvian Soles.

You might be able to change some other currencies but usually at very bad rates - the rates you get arent the best anyway and you will get better in La Paz.

Check out our article on Money Tips for Traveling in Bolivia for some useful information

BOAT TIMES TO ISLA DEL SOL

There are set departures for public boats to/from Isla del Sol in the morning and in the afternoon everyday.

Simply walk down to the shore and you will find the small docks where the boats leave from. There is also a ticket kiosk but you can also get tickets direct from the boat. 

Officially the times are: 

Departures Copacabana to Isla del Sol (Yumani - South Side) 08.30AM and 13.30PM

Departures Isla del Sol (Yumani - South Side) to Copacabana  10.00AM and 16.00PM

Arrive about 15 to 20 minutes before so you can try and choose your seat on the side you wish.

NOTE - It is not possible to take the boat to the North side (Challapampa is the town the boats used to go to) of the Island currently due to that part of the Island being out of bounds to tourists due to local diputes.

The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on conditions, boat type and load and the price is 25 -30bob each way per person.

They will often try to get you to buy a return ticket that will save you maybe 5bob but it is not worth it  as it is better to remain flexible and be able to choose a different boat for the return if you wish.


Apart from the official boat schedule you can often get rides in boats with locals looking to recuperate some fuel money when they are making trips to the main land. 
These boats can sometimes be faster and usually cost about the same but with the added bonus of not having to stick to the schedules. 
That said, there are no guarantees there will be any locals leaving so you cannot 100% rely on these if your on a schedule to get buses.

ISLA DEL SOL

Isla del Sol / Island of the Sun Lake Titicaca

Isla de Sol - Island of the Sun - Lake Titicaca


Inca legends tell us  that the Isla del Sol was the birth place of the Inca Sun God and of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo - the first two Incas.
The story goes that the  god Viracocha , rising from the depths of Lake Titicaca, choose the island from which he commanded the sun to rise and rescue the lands from a period of darkness, then created the Inca race.

The Incas in fact genectically originate from lands further north so the legend certainly doesnt have its roots in factual history but it contributed to the importance of Isla del Sol as a spiritual center.


There are a significant number of inca ruins on the island with many (unfortunately - see section below about closure of north section) located in the northern part of the island.

The main ruins that lie norht of the town of Cha'llapamapa are Titkala, Huellas del Sol (the footprints of the sun), Mesa Ceremonica (the ceremonial table) and the largest of them all is the multi level Chincana site that includes the 'Inca Palace'

Chincana Ruins Isla del Sol 

Chincana Ruins Isla del Sol Bolivia

Upon arrival to the southern side of the island docks you will quickly find the "Inca steps" an ancient stone stair case of 240 stairs to climb.

This will bring  you to the town of Yumani, the main community in the South,  where you will find a number of hotels and some places to eat.

As motorised transport is banned on the island then you will have to hike a little if you want to explore.

The pick of the ruins in the south is the well preseved Pilkukayna Temple of the Sun which is about 2km from Yumani so will take about 20 to 30 mins walking. You will likely have to show your Isla del Sol entry ticket to access the site.

NORTH & CENTRAL ISLA DEL SOL - CLOSED TO TOURISTS

Since early 2017 the North and central parts of Isla del Sol have been off limits to tourists due to a conflict between the communities on the island. This is the reason there are no boats to the north for tourists either.

If you try to walk from the South to the North, which used to be a popular hike , you will be stopped by the communities and we strongly advice you do not try to sneak through. At best you will just be stopped by another community and turned back , at worst it might not be safe.

The situation doesnt look like getting resolved any time soon and in fact in April 2018 the entire island was closed to tourism by the national authorities for a few weeks but the south side has once again reopened.

ISLA DE LA LUNA

Iñaq Uyu -  Temple of the Virgins Ruins on Isla de la Luna

Iñaq Uyu Ruins on Isla de la Luna

Isla de la Luna  translated as Island of the Moon is far less visited than its opposing sister Isla del Sol.


Partly because it is smaller, has a lot less in the way of facilities and attractions and also because it is not as easy to get to with no regular boat services. You can sometimes get the scheduled boat to take you there as a group if there are enough of you or arrange private boat tours from Copacabana that will also go to Isla del Sol.

It is possible to get locals from Yampupata to take you to the island or also you can ask around the dock in Yumani on the South Side of Isla del Sol for a private hire.Make sure you arrange the trip to be both ways so you dont get stuck on the island!

The island itself is small and you can explore it in just a couple of hours. There is the small community of on the western side that is home to about  80 or 90 people and these mostly make a living with farming or fishing.
You will find toilets and basic snacks there if you need.

The main point of interest are the ruins of the Temple of the Virgins located on the eastern side and you will need to climb up the rocky pathways to get to it. It is not too far with itbeing a small place but the climb can be a bit of an effort so not suitable for everyone.

You are usually asked to pay an entrance fee upon arrival to the island which is all done in a pretty relaxed fashion - i.e. dont expect to be given a ticket.

SURIQUI ISLAND

Totora Reed Boat Building on Surique Island

Totora Reed Boat Building on Suriqui Island

Usually accessed from the village Huatajata located on the shores of Lake Titicacas southern section along the road from La Paz  this the island of Suriqui is famous as the home of the best totora reed boat builders.

This ancient tradition is still practiced today and you can see at certain times of the year boats being constructed and drying in the sun.


The area was made famous after the Limachi family from the island constructed a boat for the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in which he successfully sailed from Africa to Barbados in 1970 in an effort to prove such vessels could have been used for trans atlantic journies centuries before.

It is easy to get to Huatajata from La Paz and any bus going to Copacabana will pass by the town on the way. The journey is about 1.5 to 2 hours from La Paz on Ruta Nationcal 2. There are a couple of small hotels , that may or may not be open - ask around and there is more upscale hotel called Inca Utama. There are also a couple of restaurants that mostly specialise in fish dishes from the Lake and these are good places to ask about getting a boat to the Island.

Once on the island you can explore at your leisure and will witness a very traditional way of life. The islanders are mostly fishermen and you should see their distinctive sail boats on the lake during the day. 

Unfortunately some of the children on the island have picked up a habit of persistent begging and they can follow you around for hours trying to get money from you . Give one some coins and others will join in the chase so it is best not to encourage this for many reasons.

SUMMARY

Lake Titicaca, Copacabana & Isla del Sol defiantely deserve a couple of days of any travelers time when on the trail between La Paz and Peru.

The area has the perfect balance of sights to see  and places to just sit and relax. If you have spent the previous weeks on a Uyuni Salt Flats Tour, discovering hectic La Paz or out of breath on the Inca Trail then a spending some time in Copacabana or Isla de Sol will help recharge your batteries for the road ahead.

Weather you take one of our tours with a guide or book one of our transport options and explore yourself you will enjoy this beautiful area. 

As always, let us know if you have any questions.

Copacabana & Lake Titicaca

3 Item(s)

  • Copacabana & Sun Island 2-Day (from La Paz)

    2 day tour of Copacabana and Sun Island (Isla del Sol) from La Paz. Includes one night hotel on Sun Island (Isla del Sol) and guided tour of Copacabana / Sun Island. This tour leaves daily and is run all year round. You can decide to end your tour with a transfer back to La Paz or with a transfer to Puno on the second day.

    $110.00
  • Copacabana & Sun Island Day Trip (from La Paz)

    Take this 1 day tour to Copacabana and explore the southern part of the famous Sun Island the famous "Birth place of the Incas". Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the entire area is steeped in history, culture and is incredibly beautiful.Here you can learn about the story of the Incas and also see a different more rural side of Bolivian life outsde of the cities. Perfect option for  a day tour out of La Paz or those short on time wanting to visit this popular area. Daily departures. 

    $29.00
  • Copacabana & Sun Island 2-Day Tour (from Copacabana)

    2-day tour of Copacabana and Sun Island (Isla del Sol) departing daily from Copacabana. Includes one night hotel on Sun Island (Isla del Sol) and guided tour of stunning Isla del Sol. You can decide to end your tour back in Copacabana or with a transfer to La Paz or to Puno on the second day.

    $100.00