Copacabana, Titicaca, & Islas del Sol y de la Luna: 2018 Guide

With ancient ruins and famously clear water, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable waterway and the purported birthplace of the Incas. Located on a small peninsula just next to the Peruvian border, Copacabana is Bolivia’s most important port-of-call for experiencing the islands of Lake Titicaca, the Islas del Sol y de la Luna.

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Is there anything to do in Copacabana city?

Copacabana has good vibes and some nice cafes, but the city isn’t much to look at. There’s a hill towering over the city that you can climb to get a panoramic view. There’s also a regal white church called Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana. Other than that, the island tours are the bread and butter of Copacabana.

Tour of Sun Island & Moon Island

The daily tours are supposed to depart at 8:30 AM, but you can expect about an hour delay of just sitting in the boat waiting to embark because Bolivia. We sat on the roof deck for some sunshine and views. The boats are extremely slow, so it took two hours to reach the Isla de la Luna (“the moon island”).

We were given an hour on the island left without any program or guidance. The main attraction on the island is the ruins of the moon temple, but the highlight for me was walking the crest of the island, which is desolate and peaceful.

Next we sailed 30 minutes to La Isla Del Sol (“the Sun Island”), the bigger and more populated of the two islands, where we spent 2.5 hours. We were given the option to tour with a guide or go it alone. The guide lied to us and said we can’t see the ruins without his help, so we relented. He asked 25 Bolivars each, but we quietly managed to bargain it down to 15 because there was no one else around us on the lower deck. The tour group turned out to extremely large and annoying, and we regretted booking the tour.

Anyways, on this island we saw the ruins of the sun temple and then climbed up to a look-out. Our guide gave us an hour to lunch at a scammy overpriced restaurant. Then we descended to the port where our boat was waiting to take us back to Copacabana at 3:00 PM. The boat took an hour and half to return to Copacabana, so we arrived there at 4:30 PM.

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The port of  Isla del Sol
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Ruins of the Sun Temple

 

Costs of Tour, Food, & Accomodations

There’s no need to book the tour at an agency. You can buy the ticket directly at the port on the morning of your tour. They asked for 40 Bolivars, but we knew that was the wrong priced. They quietly agreed to sell it to us for 30 Bolivars each as we began walking away.

Note that like anywhere Bolivia, all prices in Copacabana are negotiable and often intentionally inflated for you to bargain down. After bargaining, private hotels room start at 35 Bolivianos ($6) per person and descent sanitary meals start at 15 Boliviars ($2.5).

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Is Copacabana / La Isla del Sol y La Luna worth visting?

I was not fond of the islands. I found them ugly, arid, barren, and over-touristed. The ruins were not too interesting, and the locals were unfriendly. 

As for Copacabana, I found the town quite charming and unique. I’m glad I visited. As I said before, there’s not much to do there, so if it’s not convenient to visit, you can skip it. But if you are traveling between Peru and Bolivia, you might as well give it at least a day.

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Getting To Copacabana

From Puno, the ride to Copacabana lasts 3 hours, including the border crossing and costs 20 sol.

From La Paz, the ride to Copacabana lasts 4 hours, including  the wait time for the ferry you must take in the middle of your route, and costs 25 dollars if you bargain it down.