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- 18 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Sitting at 3,800m above sea level on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia's Copacabana was once a quiet fishing village known only for its religious fiestas. Today it's an increasingly popular destination for travellers and is surrounded by rugged scenery and rocky paths walked by alpacas and donkeys. You can learn about pre-Incan cultures or simply savour the flavours of freshly cooked trout from a lakeside stall. Traditional Andean beliefs exist side by side with Catholicism here and you'll see offerings to both the Virgin Mary and the Goddess Pachamama.
Most hostels in Copacabana are perched on steep mountain slopes and overlook the lake's gleaming blue waters. You can stay in an eco-friendly cabin, rooms inspired by Arabic domes or in a hostel on Isla del Sol, a holy island on the lake. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing Copacabana hostels with vegetarian food or solar-powered heating, or indulge in a little luxury with a Jacuzzi suite. The majority have free Wi-Fi and free breakfast.
Copacabana village is small and centred on the main square, Plaza 2 de Febrero. The main street visitors should know is Avenida 6 de Agosto, which has foreigner-friendly restaurants and bars. Head northeast along the coast for 3km and you'll find Kusijata, a small community with an archaeological museum (look out for the chullpa, an Incan mummy). You could also go hiking to Yampupata, a rural village with views out over Lake Titicaca.
One of Copacabana's most striking sights is the Catedral de la Virgen de la Candelaria, home to a 15th-century statue said to be able to work miracles. At the beginning of February, thousands of pilgrims flock to the town from all over Bolivia and nearby Peru for the Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria. Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna have sacred Incan sites and a strong traditional culture. For handicrafts to take home, you can browse local textiles at the Museo del Poncho.
To get to Copacabana, you can take a local bus from La Paz. You'll want to stay awake for the spectacular lake views on the 3-hour journey. You can also take a bus from Puno in Peru, a journey of 4 hours, and boats run between Copacabana village and the two islands (del Sol and de la Luna). Walking is the best way to get around the village.