The next stop on our honeymoon tour is Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. This is the second part of our Bolivian honeymoon trip after our Salt Flats tour and traveling to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Bolivia is known for it’s rich culture, beautiful landscapes and cheap frills. We made our way to Lake Titicaca as we had heard and seen so much online of it’s beauty that we couldn’t resist going there for a 3 day visit.
Getting to Lake Titicaca
After several long hours of research online, the best way for us to get to Lake Titicaca after traveling to the boarder of Chile was to travel back to La Paz, the main city center and catch a 3.5 hour bus to Copacabana. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in the world with the highest altitude. Therefore, it is important to take the time to adjust to the high altitude. Luckily for us, since we’ve been traveling all around Bolivia, this wasn’t such an issue anymore. But we can’t stress it enough for those who are traveling to Bolivia for the first time to plan around the altitude changes.
After spending one night in La Paz, we went to cemetery bus terminal, which is on the way to the red cable car in order to find a service to take us to Copacabana. This bus terminal should not be confused with the other bus terminal in La Paz, which is about 15-20 minutes away. There are two options here. The first is the tourist buses. These run at certain times and need to be pre-booked ahead of time, particularly if you are going from La Paz. The fee of 30 bolivianos includes a pick up from your hotel. As our timing was slightly different from what we had originally planned, we decided not to book the tourist bus earlier and therefore, this option was not for us.
Instead, we opted for the second option which is a mini van. The mini van service, which a lot of locals use, cost 20 Bolivianos per person to take you from La Paz to Copacabana. There is a quick ferry ride about the 2 hour point where you will be asked to exit the vehicle and head over and pay a 2 Bolivanos boat ride to the other side.
Some people choose to stay on board however, it is recommended to get off and catch the ferry as the ride will take way too long due to the extra weight of passengers. When we read about this online, a lot of people suggested to take your things (mostly your valuables) with you to minimize any risk of theft or bags going missing during that short trip. We decided to take our bags as we only carried with us a small backpack each. Once you are on the other side, you then wait for your vehicle to arrive and hop back on until you reach the center of Copacabana at Plaza 2 de Febrero.
At the Copa…Copacabana!
When you arrive in Copacabana, you’ll notice the shore line, which links to Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is huge and staying a 2-3 nights in Copacabana can give you an idea of the true beauty of the lake and the town. The town is really small with the main street called Avenue 6 de Agosto filled with hotels, restaurants and shops. Walking down this street, you’ll reach the water of Lake Titicaca and see the huge anchor on the shoreline.
We enjoyed the food there. One of our favorites was at the vegetarian restaurant called La Orilla. As I’m a vegetarian, we ordered a veggie burger, nachos, tortilla wraps and fresh orange juice. The food was pretty good and the prices were very good. Some of the other places open at select times and this made it a little difficult to visit if you arrive at an odd time via the bus or if you have been out all day on the islands.
Another one of our favorite places to eat was the Pan America Bakery and Pizzeria. We ordered a vegetarian pizza, although a little pricey it was well worth it. It had been said that it is the best pizza you’ll have in South America. By far, it has been the best we’ve eaten. My favorite food is pizza and we’ve had quite a number of pizzas in our time in South America to say that it was one of the best! The dough and sauce was made from scratch and the ingredients on the pizza were fresh from their local sources. The pizza itself was stone oven cooked. We particularly loved this place not only for it’s great pizza but for it’s social cause behind it. The bakery is run by volunteers where profits go straight to a program they have been running for years that helps local kids get schooling.
We also walked around the entire place and found markets, a beautiful and historic cathedral, shops and eateries all around. We found that the markets, while good had handicrafts and products that can be found in La Paz. Prices seemed higher for products and merchandise and when we asked some locals if it was better to buy it in Copacabana versus La Paz, they mentioned that everything is imported from La Paz and therefore has a higher market cost. Copacabana is a small town and it doesn’t take that long to go through the whole place. Spending three nights in Copacabana was definitely enough for us.
Isla Del Sol
We decided to visit Isla Del Sol, which is one of the most popular islands to visit while staying in Copacabana. Here you’ll be able to see Lake Titicaca in full view. Isla Del Sol is located in the southern part of Lake Titicaca and is also known as the Island of the Sun. There is another island called Island of the moon where the aerial shot of the island looks like a half moon. We didn’t have enough time to visit the Island of the Moon because we didn’t want to rush the experience.
Booking this part of the trip was fairly easy. We simply booked with our hotel the morning of and went over to the pier. There are several boats available and on your ticket you’ll see which boat you need to board. For us, it was the Andes Amazonia boat. The boat left at about 8:00am. We started to leave our hotel at 7:45am to get there on time. It helps if you have walked around the town and know your way around to avoid getting lost or confused along the way.
The boat typically has 2 standard stops and you can then decide that you want to do using these time frames. Double check with your boat driver of the times. You may need to know Spanish for this part or ask a tourist who speaks both English and Spanish for confirmation of the times.
The first stop will be to drop you off at the furthest point of the island called Challampampa. It takes about 1.5 hours to get there so when you arrive it’s already 11am. Here there is a small museum, followed by a 1 hour one-way trail you can do and head back to the boat in time for the next drop off point. The trail covers a lot of the landscapes, animals and local villages you probably see throughout the island. You will need to purchase a ticket to enter the area of the island even if you do not choose to do the trail. Stepping off the boat counts as entering the island.
The other option is to continue on the 1 hour trail all the way to the other side of the island and meet the boat at this point called Yumani at around 3pm. We’ve been told it takes roughly 3 hours to complete. There are also small entrance fees if you choose to walk the entire island. A lot of people suggest to stay overnight on the island to get the full experience. Most of the hostels offer basic accommodation at low prices.
With the altitude and just feeling exhausted from the trip, we decided to just do the 1 hour walk in the heat and head back to the boat by 1pm for the next stop instead of walking the whole island. This trail was beautiful and you end up seeing a few archaeological sites on the island such as the Inca ruins, as well as locals selling little handicrafts and goods. We recommend taking at least the 1 hour trail and making sure you take stops whenever you need to. Bring lots of water as it can get pretty hot walking up hill and climbing steps. The air is really fresh and clean, making it a very enjoyable walk, particularly if you came from the busy and often polluted city of La Paz.
The second stop at Yumani was 30 minutes away. There is also a walk but this one is going up what looked like 100 stone steps. We were pretty tired from the other walk and didn’t get a chance to have lunch either. We decided to relax and have lunch instead overlooking the view of the island. We walked up and found this small restaurant serving some basic but delicious meals. It was good to not only enjoy the view from above but to watch the local animals and people going about their day.
Apart from the view, landscapes and inca ruins, we also enjoyed seeing a vast number of animals roaming the island. In particular this very cute baby llama dressed with a colorful necklace. Those fluffy chubby cheeks!
Overall our experience on the honeymoon tour of Lake Titicaca was a very relaxing and memorable part of the honeymoon. It was pretty cheap to do and the people are very friendly and helpful if you are unsure of how to get to certain places. We recommend coming to the Island Del Sol if you are ever in Bolivia. On to the next part of the trip, La Paz.