Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Copacabana and its surroundings (August 11th - 13th, 2013)

Copacabana is the main hub for visiting Lake Titicaca from Bolivia. It is a small town with the only public beach in Bolivia and many cheap, but good hotels.

I had a bit of a stomach ache in the morning when we boarded the bus, so I was happily surprised by its quality, as it even had a toilet and free Wi-Fi. Copacabana is on a peninsula that is connected with Peru, but not with the rest of Bolivia. Because of this, we and our bus had to take a boat to get there. This was actually a very nice reason to stop, and it gave us the first close look of the lake.

One of the many ways how Bolivia shows its unhappiness about losing access to the sea

After arrival I was very happy about our spacious room with a great view of the beach. As I was still a bit under the weather, I was glad I could lie down.

View from our room

After a bit of rest, we went for a short walk on the beach. The beach was not appetizing at all, as it was filled with trash and smelled bad. What was more interesting was a special celebration that people had for their cars. They decorated them in a very colorful way and then asked a shaman to perform a ceremony, so they would not have any accidents in the next year.

One of the many decorated cars

Laura went to eat trout in one of the restaurants recommended in Lonely Planet, but she came back very unhappy. She told me that the fish tasted like mud. Fortunately, the marvelous sunset from the balcony of our hotel compensated for any bad experiences of the day.

Isn't this spectacular?

On the following day I was feeling much better. Breakfast at our hostel was one big chaos and many items, such as hot water or bread were missing. We ate what we could and hurried to the port to catch a boat to Isla del Sol, which is the biggest island of Lake Titicaca. The boat took us to the northern port.

Northern port of Isla del Sol

Pigs seemed to be common inhabitants of this beach

It took us a bit of time to orientate ourselves, but soon we were on the right track with tons of other tourists. The views were magnificent. We joined one guide who told us about different ruins in the northern part of the island. He also gave us some sacred water from a well at Chincana.

Mesa Ritual

From there we continued independently over the ridge of the island. We had wonderful views in all directions, including views of Illampu, a mountain in the Cordillera Real we did not have a chance to visit. We were a bit surprised that in total we were asked three times to pay a fee for passing through village territories. Fortunately, the fees were acceptable, but we still did not understand why one village would charge manyfold more than another.

Laura and one of the gates where we had to pay an entrance fee

Eventually we arrived in Yumani. We had a late lunch there and took a boat back to Copacabana. In the evening we climbed Cerro Calvario. The sunset from there was not as good as from our hotel, and considering the amount of trash lying all around, it was really not worth the climb up. Fortunately, the bad impression from the hill was somewhat reduced at its foot. Here, we went to the La Cúpola restaurant and enjoyed an excellent cheese fondue.

Copacabana in the evening light

The next morning it was Laura's turn to feel a bit sick, so I went to visit the cathedral in the center on my own. We then bought bus tickets to Puno, had lunch and said our good-byes to Bolivia.

One of the last pictures we made in Bolivia

We really enjoyed Bolivia, but as we stayed here for two and half months, it was time to move on. Thus, our next post will be about Peru. As usually, we have some more pictures.

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