Coming off our crazy high from Machu Picchu and the Salkantay Trek we knew our next move was to go somewhere to relax. Lake Titicaca was the natural choice and we decided to visit both the Peruvian and Bolivian side of the lake.
Our first stop along Titicaca was in Puno, Peru. The city itself was a bit busy and crowded and I am sure given extra days to explore we could have discovered more. However, we were there for two days and we felt it was enough for us. In that time were able to do a tour on the lake and this was by far much better on the Peruvian side (more on this later).
Our tour guide was fantastic and really made the experience that much better. The lake was stunning and just taking a ride on the boat was wonderful. First we visited the mind-boggling floating islands of Uros. This architectural feat is something you have to see to believe. The natives use totora reeds that grow naturally in the lake to make the islands themselves and reed boats used for transportation. My favorite part was watching all the little kids running around showing us their best crossbow skills and calling everyone “amigo”.
Next on the tour we visited Taquile Island. The Taquileños who inhabit the island were friendly and proudly showed us a few of the local customs including their impeccable weaving and the valuable use of indigenous plants. We had a delicious alfresco lunch prepared by the locals consisting of fresh trout with a remarkable view of lake Titicaca.
Back in town it rained extremely hard both nights we were there. To escape the downpour one night we were able to camp out in Pizzeria Catedral near the main plaza/Plaza de Armas. I’ll mention it here because they had really great pizza—as many already know I am a total pizza snob so this is a great distinction! The next day was bittersweet as it was time to leave the beautiful country of Peru.
Shortly after crossing the border we arrived in Copacabana, Bolivia. We visited during low season so this sleepy town seemed like the perfect place to get some much-needed rest. We found a great little place called La Cupula overlooking the lake with stunning gardens and relaxing hammocks.
The next day we ran into our friend Michael who was staying at a place right next to ours. He showed us his loft at Las Olas and we knew we had to stay there! It was a bit off budget at 49 USD but with a kitchen in the unit we were easily able to cook at “home” and still save money. The local market was great and we were able to find everything we needed. That same night we all visited La Orilla for dinner. Not only was their food amazing but they also had a great selection of strong and tasty beers.
Apparently our two accommodations were extremely hard to book as they were always sold out. The good thing was we were able to find room on the days we were there, the bad thing was we had to switch rooms almost every single time. We finally decided to stay a couple of more days in Copacabana and were able to book a great suite at La Cupula for two consecutive days– It was heaven! I would highly recommend visitors book way in advance before arriving.
In Copacabana it wasn’t all just lying around doing nothing (although most of it was!) – we decided to visit a few sites around town. A nice hike brought us to Horca del Inca, which served as an astronomic observatory for the Incas and from here we had a scenic view of the whole city. We also hiked up Cerro Calvario during sunset and observed incredible views of Lake Titicaca.
One day we decided to go onto the lake and take a tour of the Bolivian side. We chose to visit both La Isla del Sol and La Isla de la Luna on the same day. This was a terrible mistake as we spent most of the time traveling on the boat and we had very little time to explore the islands. I would highly recommend only visiting one per day or better yet stay on Isla del Sol overnight. The tour on the Peruvian side in Puno was also much better quality so do not skip it.
Copacabana was made for relaxing. It is visited by both foreigners and locals and is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of neighboring cities. It was the perfect introduction to Bolivia.