Lake Titicaca is a must-visit destination on your travels through Peru and Bolivia. This jewel of South America is the highest large lake in the world and its qualities don’t just stop at height and size. Deep blue waters, golden grass reeds, sun-drenched islands and unique floating houses – it all adds to the appeal. If you are looking for accommodation in Copacabana you can’t go past Las Olas – easily the best place to stay in Lake Titicaca!
Copacabana is nestled between two mountains on the Bolivian side. It’s considered the gateway to the popular Isla del Sol and the hidden gem of Isla de la Luna – islands that offer extraordinary views where the blue of the water merges with the blue of the sky. When hiking in these islands on a clear day, it’s hard to tell where the sky ends and the lake begins! For this reason Lake Titicaca is best experienced on a good old-fashioned walk.
There are plenty of amazing trails to enjoy in Copacabana too, like the super Instagrammable El Calvario which looks out over the town or the pre-Incan sun observatory called La Horca del Inca. The latter is only a 45-minute hike from Las Olas. It might be your favorite experience ever, especially if you come on June 20-22 because during the solstice the sun beams its light through a hole in the rock onto a gate signifying a new indigenous year.
Local traditions and customs are still very much alive in Copacabana, and throughout the year the village hosts numerous festivals. The Virgen de la Candelaria Festival is a fantastic one for travelers coming at the start of February. People from all over the country make the pilgrimage to Titicaca to honor the patron saint of Bolivia. All sorts of performances, dances, music and foods can be enjoyed with the lake as the ultimate backdrop.
Despite only having a population of around 6,000 inhabitants, Copacabana punches above its weight in terms of culture. There are so many ways to spend your time in the village and its lakeside surroundings – whether it be island-hopping, hiking trails, local festivities, or simply relaxing and enjoying the vistas. To make the most of your trip we highly recommend staying at Las Olas Hostel for the best views, comfort and character in town.
Why Las Olas is the Best Place to Stay in Lake Titicaca
Location is everything when it comes to your hotel and Las Olas ticks that box in style. Perched on a hill overlooking the lake, this hostel affords breathtaking views no matter where you are – from the comfort of your own bed to the living room and everywhere else, the lake can be seen through windows. Most rooms come with their own garden, deck chairs and hammock where you can relax while admiring the blue of Titicaca.
The most interesting aspect about this lodging is the artistic detail found in its design. Some have even compared the architecture here to Gaudi’s work that characterizes much of Barcelona. Las Olas is extravagant, quirky and whimsical in the best sense of those words. There are 12 private suites which you can stay in, all with different shapes and interiors. One resembles a colorful seashell while others are straight out of a fairytale book.
Like the floating villages of Titicaca which were built from yellow reeds, Las Olas has utilized natural materials from the region for its construction. Adobe clay, rustic stones and wooden logs were used where possible to give off that natural feel. The location of Las Olas was chosen strategically to capture heat from the sun and this combines with the thermal insulation of the rooms to ward off the cold which can engulf the altiplano.
Sustainability is part and parcel of the approach. Solar panels generate power to keep the showers warm and washing machine water is recycled to wet the gardens. The only downside to staying at such an eco-friendly and epic place is the temptation to never leave! This is why we suggest several nights (five at the minimum), so you can enjoy your time at Las Olas without being rushed as you explore the stunning lake before you.
Suites Which Make Las Olas the Best Place to Stay in Lake Titicaca
With 12 different suites to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is perfectly suited for your group. In reality, there is no right or wrong answer as they are all incredible in their own way. Everything depends on your personal tastes because the only real difference comes in the design of the buildings. Perhaps you like the sound of the Turtle with its unique shape, the Snail for its intricate detail or the Sea Tower to host small groups.
Whatever suite you select, we are certain that you will have a lovely stay at this one-of-a-kind property. The first villa that we would like to feature is the Turtle. As the name suggests, this dwelling looks like a turtle with its seven meter high structure in the shape of a dome. It can house two adults, and therefore couples always have a fun time. From each of the two floors, beautiful views are on offer but head to the top for tranquil hammock vibes.
The Sea Tower is another artistic gem of Las Olas. It has three floors and it can accommodate up to five people (two queen-sized beds and a single). On the first floor your group can cook up a storm in the kitchen and share meals in a dining room equipped with a table and chairs. The second floor boasts a living room with a fireplace and views of Titicaca. It’s a great option for families or friends looking to share the experience together.
Probably the most iconic suite that you can book is the Snail. The team at Las Olas say: “it was the first time that we crossed the line from architecture into sculpture”. Every room, piece of furniture, hallway and stairway is incorporated into the shape of a seashell over two floors. There are small circular windows dotted throughout the place which gives the shell its adornment. When it’s lit up at night, the seashell is magnificent to behold.
Our final recommendation is El Viento. This is the newest installment at Las Olas and it will blow you away (literally)! El Viento or “The Wind” is a treehouse suspended in the air and staying here feels like you are floating. Up to nine people can fit in this cabin, making it great for large families or groups of backpackers. The highlight of this property is the terrace with its unforgettable views of Titicaca. You can’t go wrong with any of these suites!
Tips for Visiting Copacabana in Bolivia
As mentioned, Copacabana is a village brimming with festivals all year round. If you want to experience incredible events like the solstice at La Horca del Inca or the Virgen de la Candelaria Festival then try to adjust your travel plans to align with these specific dates. Your visit to Lake Titicaca will be so much more memorable by participating in these once in a lifetime opportunities. Locals really come out of their shell during the festivals.
You can visit Copacabana every month of the year but don’t be misled by the blue skies and sunny photos you see online – the lake stands at 3,810 meters above sea level and this high elevation brings cooler temperatures. Nights in particular get very cold. The rainy season runs from November to April while the dry season goes from May to October. As a general rule, it’s best to visit in the dry season to avoid the occasional shower that occurs.
With this in mind, you will want to pack some warm clothes for those chilly nights. Another thing to contend with is the acclimatization. Most tourists travel across either Peru or Bolivia beforehand, and slowly make their way up higher elevations. Traveling in a steady fashion like this creates less risk of altitude sickness. If you fly into La Paz, for example, and then head straight out to Lake Titicaca you risk getting struck down with the illness.
Copacabana has been a popular destination for years now, so there are many well established modes of arrival. Bus, tour or private transport are the main ways. La Paz is the most frequented route and taking a bus is both safe and budget-friendly. It takes about four hours by bus from the Bolivian capital and then you are here: at one of South America’s most spectacular natural wonders. Enjoy your time at Titicaca and Las Olas!