Lake Titicaca sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru in the Andes Mountains. It is one of South America’s largest lakes, and is the world’s highest navigable body of water at 3,800m. Some say it’s the birthplace of the Incas, others believe it’s the origin of the sun, moon and stars, and it has been speculated that it could be home to the Lost City of Atlanta. We visited towns and islands on both the Peruvian and Bolivian side of this great lake.
Not to be confused with the Brazilian neighbourhood of the same name, Copacabana is a fishing town on a Southern bank of Lake Titicaca. It’s used mostly as a base for visiting Isla del Sol, but it was a nice chilled place to stay for one night.
Breakfast – The Eagle and El Condor
Owned by a friendly Irish man and his wife, this traveler’s cafe serves a delicious breakfast and great coffee. As well as a yummy menu including soda bread toast, peanut butter and fried breakfasts the cafe offers good WiFi service, and a stack of notebooks with recommendations from other backpackers for Bolivia, Peru and beyond.
Rating – 4/5
Hotel – La Cupula
If you’re using Bolivia / Peru Hop to travel to Copacabana you’ll be dropped off at the White Anchor – a literal giant white anchor monument beside the lake. From there it’s a 15 minute uphill walk to reach La Cupula, but once you arrive the views are well worth the effort. We stayed in a standard double room which had a double and single bed, ensuite bathroom, a heater (for the chilly nights) and intermittent WiFi access. The hotel also has a common room, and a garden with hammocks that overlooks the bay. Plus – they have 4 friendly pet alpacas that you can feed with snacks available from reception. It’s a little more expensive than our usual stay – at £25 a night, but it was a nice treat.
Bonus star given for their kittens.
Rating – 4/5
Dinner – Pan America Pizza
A quaint little restaurant close to the Cathedral where the pizzas are made fresh to order right in front of your eyes. The dough was good, the toppings not quite as good. Also this place is a little pricier than the other restaurants in the area!
Rating – 3/5
Isla del Sol, Bolivia
Legend says that this small island was the birthplace of the first Incan man and woman, and home to the Incan Sun God, Inti. It’s a 2 hour ferry ride from Copacabana with boats leaving twice a day. We decided to stay overnight so we could enjoy the infamous sunset and starry sky, but unfortunately it was too cloudy. (The second time we have tried to enjoy stars in a remote place and seen none). However, it was still nice to spend a night in such a relaxed, unplugged and beautiful place.
Dinner – Las Velas
This place was recommended to us by one of the books at The Eagle and El Condor. Situated right on top of the island, romantic candlelit dinner spot Las Velas offers the best sunset view (except, of course, on the evening we were there when it was too cloudy). Be prepared to wait a little while as it’s just one guy working as waiter and chef. The food was quite nice – I had a vegetarian pizza and Frazer had fresh trout.
Rating – 3/5
Hostel – Wara Uta
Firstly, be warned that this hostel is on almost the highest point of the island, very close to Las Velas and The Mirador which is not so convenient when you are travelling with all of your luggage. However, it does mean that once you’ve done the very long (45 minutes-1 hour) walk from the port, you’re staying on the most beautiful part of the island. The room here was clean, the shower was hot and breakfast was yummy, plus it’s just £20 a night for a room.
Rating – 4/5
Hostel – Bothy Backpackers
Despite being told we couldn’t be dropped here by our Peru Hop guide, Bothy is very much on the list of approved hostels for drop-off/pick-up. Once we had negotiated our way off the bus, the very helpful lady on reception (Elizabeth) helped us to change our pick-up location for our tour the next day. The next day Elizabeth cooked us pancakes for an early breakfast before our tour, and let us store our luggage there all day until our night bus to Cusco. WiFi was good but unfortunately there was no hot shower, and the bathroom had quite the strange smell.
Rating – 2.5/5
Dinner – Remix Pizzeria
We went to this place for dinner after reading it’s brilliant reviews and we were not disappointed. The pizza was delicious, the fresh lemonade was yummy and the garlic sauce was incredible. Plus it was excellent value for money.
Rating – 4.5/5
Tour – Full Day Island Tour
An excellent opportunity to learn more about what life is like for some of the communities of people living on Lake Titicaca, albeit with large groups of tourists in some of the places. The first stop was at the floating Uros Islands, where the people have built their own homes by creating manmade islands using reeds. We were welcomed by the small community of “Condor Uros” who showed us their homes and how they were built, shared their handmade tapestries with us and even sang some traditional songs. We then were offered a ride in a traditional reed boat to the capital Uros island, for 10 soles (about £2).
After this we travelled further on a regular boat to reach the natural island of Taquile. It’s a long uphill trek to reach the plaza but after that you get to enjoy a lunch prepared by the local people (which was delicious), and learn more about how they live. It’s a peaceful community with no prisons or police, just three simple rules; don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t hurt others. The men knit, the women weave and the six communities rotate responsibilities and location across the island throughout the year.
Sure, there were other groups of tourists on the islands but it didn’t feel too crowded or artificial. Some people complain that this isn’t an authentic experience, but the people on the islands seemed pleased to be able to give us an insight into our lives and generate some more income.