Copacabana, and not the one you were thinking of …
Who knew that there isn’t only one Copacabana, in fact a three hour bus trip and short ferry ride (weather permitting) away from La Paz will find you at the lakeside village of Bolivia’s very own Copa.
To get to Copacabana from La Paz you can either catch a local bus or use one of the many tour companies offering this trip, we went with Diana Travel and we were picked up at 8am. Two and a half hours later we reached the port and us passengers were transported over the short stretch of lake for $1Boliviano by small boat, whilst our bus (and luggage) was transported over by a sort of barge vessel. After another 1/2 hour on the bus we made it to Copacabana and took off to find some accommodation, something we aren’t too familiar with as we tend to book ahead when it comes to hostels, but we took a chance this time around given that this is only a small village.
We first approached a Lonely Planet guide referred hostel but after standing at reception to no avail we took off further down the road, and closer to the waters edge, and there we found Hostal Leyenda and happily handed over $30(AU) a night for an enormous private room. The decor was lovely and we had our own little courtyard, ensuite and fireplace (not that we used it). Breakfast was simply bread, jam, orange juice and a hot drink, however the bread was warmed in a type of ceramic mini oven which was a nice touch and the owner was happy to supply us with bowls for the fruit, yoghurt and oats we ate along with the bread (which we provided ourselves).
We ended up really enjoying Copacabana regardless of the fact that we were prior warned “it’s really touristy”, but hey what’s wrong with that?. It reminded us a bit of Thailand, if Thailand’s temperatures dropped by 20 degrees. It does cater for the everyday backpacker however with no lady boys or glow sticks in sight, Copa should be safe from debauchery for a wee while longer.
Copa is the gate way to the islands of Isla del Sol and Isla del Luna, which both can be reached by small boat in around two hours for around $25Bolivianos. A visit to Copa wouldn’t be without either a day trip or overnight stay at at least one of the islands, which we had every intention of doing ourselves however in came the storms and we were happy to stay put in our lovely accommodation for a couple more nights. That is how a two night stay in Copa ended up being a four night rest stop where we managed to frequent the majority of top spots for lunch and dinner.
A cheap option for lunch (and dinner if you are happy to brave the cold) are the food markets along the far side of the shore, here you can get a plate of food for $25Bolivanos ($4AU), where trout done a multitude of different ways is the specialty. We chose the grilled lemon trout and a grilled chicken dish, the trout was definitely the winner on the day, we visited #19 if you need a recommendation.
We also did an awesome hike before the weather turned, up the Cerro Calvario hill, which is a religious site but really breathtaking. It was only a short 45 minute walk (one way) but the gradient felt like a 90 degree angle and even after being in this high altitude for a matter of weeks, got the heart pumping. The view was spectacular and we felt we had uncovered a hidden gem as our guidebook hadn’t seemed to highlight just how worthwhile the trek would be, all for the price of $0Bolivanos($0AU)
We ate and drank in Copacabana and marveled in four nights in a row in the same bed, I must sit down and count how many different beds we have frequented in the past four months of travel, I estimate perhaps upwards of forty, that will be a good activity for the next overnight bus trip…