Copacabana

We arrived in Copacabana on Tuesday 28th May, after catching a bus from Puno. It’s a relatively small town with only 50,000 residents at 3800m altitude – definitely the smallest town we had visited so far. We got off the bus in the main square – quite unusual, as usually the bus stations are a 15 min bus journey out of town. Driving into town, the first thing I noticed was it was such a pretty town nestled in the hillside over looking Lake Titicaca. Unlike towns in Peru, most of the houses / buildings appeared to be completed. In Peru so many buildings were part completed, although it looked as if people still lived in them unfinished. It was also incredibly chilled – very few cars, hardly any were tooting (which we had got very used to in Peru, the noise was almost constant at times), and everyone seemed relaxed going about their own business – nobody looked in a hurry! This was a place I instantly loved and knew we were going to want to stay longer than the two nights we booked! It was the type of place I had hoped we would find travelling.

The view across Copacabana bay from our hostel

It was also the first time we properly used our backpacks, as everything was so close, we had no excuse but to walk to our hostel with them on! It was 2 blocks north of the square up a very steep hill. La Cupula was tucked in the hillside overlooking the lake – it even had hammocks and deckchairs in the gardens.

After dropping our stuff the first challenge was to find a working cash machine. The first one we found had 3 tourists sitting outside – who we had learnt had put one of their cards into the machine, only for there to be a power cut and their card got stuck inside. They did later get it back, they just had to wait for the power to return and the bank to open! The next few we found were also off due to the power cut, and we were starting to think it may have been a good idea to get some bolivianos before crossing the border! Finally we found one that was working on another square, obviously on a different power network.

Over the next few days we enjoyed the slower pace of Copacabana and the chance to relax! On the first day we climbed Cerro Calvario (the hill behind the town) passing the 14 stations of the Cross. People used to walk up here as part of a pilgrimage. The path was steep, but we had fantastic views across to Isla Del Sol and the town itself. We did the walk with a friend we had agreed to meet in Copacabana, someone we had done the Inca Trail with – it was great to see her and catch up. The three of us sat and watched the sun set over the lake, so beautiful and very peaceful. Our friend introduced us to a great restaurant in the town called Mauraz – and we ended up returning again and again during our stay in Copacabana – the food and the company was great! They also did the most amazing waffles with honey for breakfast!

We spent a lot of time relaxing in the hostel hammocks and recharging our batteries, after a busy few weeks in Peru. But on our third day we did venture across to the Isla Del Sol, which in Inca history is thought to be the birthplace of the sun. We took supplies for breakfast on the boat (UHT chocolate milkshakes and cereal biscuits) and began the 2 hour boat journey to the island. You could only book the boat, not a guided tour of the island, so we were going to explore on our own. When we arrived, we found a map of the island and with the help of some other english speaking tourists we worked out where we needed to start the walk! We walked with a Canadian couple and between us we navigated the route ok! You had to pass through 3 pay stations, as you had to pay for passing through the 3 main villages on the island. You also had to pass several check points to show your ticket, these were the most confusing, as they didn´t look like checkpoints! The walk itself was beautiful – but definitely challenging. At 4000m the uphill climbs were steep and we were walking in the midday sun – but luckily we had supplies of crisps and biscuits to munch on the way – as we walked through lunch. As usual I was thinking about food! Along the walk we could see the beautiful snow capped bolivian mountains (approx 6000m high!) and the lake looked crystal clear! After about 3-4 hours we had navigated from the northern town of Cha´llapampa to the southern port of Yumani on the island. We had walked quite fast and still only had about 45 mins to spare before our boat left for the mainland! I´m sure some people must miss the boat back!

Copacabana was a bit like a ski resort, due to the altitude it was very cold at night and you needed a lot of layers. In the daytime it was hot in the sunshine, but there was still a cool breeze, so you needed factor 50 suncream and a few warm layers! After 4 nights and 5 days we had to say goodbye to Copacabana, it had definitely been my favourite place so far! We headed off at 1pm for La Paz, only 3 hours away by bus, a much bigger city to explore, home to 1 million people!

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