Lake Titicaca is a popular stop off point on the backpacker trail of South America and for good reason. This lake has a magical atmosphere, and it’s a great transition point for travelers heading between Peru and Bolivia.
In this blog post, I will share with you the best things to do in Lake Titicaca as well as provide a few recommendations on accommodation and some general travel advice. Before I get started, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Cynthia. I’m one half of @the_wildduo, along with my husband Mike. I was born in the US but grew up in Ecuador. Half of my life was lived in Ecuador and the other half was lived between the USA and the UK. My husband Mike was born and bred in Manchester, UK.
We met 12 years ago on a travel website called Travbuddy. Back then it was like Facebook but for travelers from all around the world. You could share experiences, ask for advice and meet others. I was traveling with some friends to Ireland that summer and Mike gave me tips on things to do.
We emailed each other for a few months and then met each other in person during my trip to Ireland that summer. I took the ferry from Dublin to Hollyhead, followed by a train to Manchester where Mike was waiting for me. It sounds kind of cheesy but our eyes met and we knew that was it!
A long distance relationship was the go for a year or so (while I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona) and eventually we tied the knot the following year in Gretna Green – a small village in Scotland. I moved to the UK a few months later to finally be permanently together with my new husband Mike.
Last year we decided to quit our jobs, sell our house and all of our material possessions in England, to travel and move to South America (in the middle of a pandemic). My father and Mike’s grandfather both served in the Navy and they saw many wonderful places – so I would say travel is in our blood!
Three Incredible Months in Bolivia
We love being in nature and Bolivia has some of the most epic mountains in the Cordillera de los Andes. We knew Salar de Uyuni and Lake Titicaca were there but our inspiration to visit the country was the mountains.
It was easy to fall in love with Bolivia the moment we arrived and we ended up staying there for three months. We just couldn’t get enough of the incredible people, culture and landscape. We met some of the best people in La Paz, people that will definitely be our friends for the rest of our lives.
During our three months, we visited many places including Santa Cruz, Sucre, La Paz, Coroico and Lake Titicaca. We cycled ”Death Road’’, walked on clouds and watched the most amazing sunset at the Uyuni Salt Flats, had beautiful flamingos greet us on red and green lakes, jumped through a smoking geyser and bathed at sunrise in natural hot springs.
Some of the experiences we enjoyed the most were in the mountains. The best was climbing Pequeno Alpamayo, a beautiful mountain that at 5,370 metres elevation offered some of the best views of the Cordillera Real!
Enjoying our Time in Lake Titicaca
We visited Lake Titicaca for four days. At the time of our visit, most of the businesses, restaurants and hotels in Copacabana (the main town of the lake) were closed due to the ongoing pandemic. This didn’t stop us from enjoying our time at the lake though and finding many things to do.
Lake Titicaca is a place to take in the views. Our days were spent hiking, visiting islands and strolling around. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The colour of the water is deep blue, like the ocean. It’s surface is silky, sparkling away. You can try to see the end of it but it’s impossible. On a clear day, you can’t tell where the sky ends and the lake begins!
7 Best Things To Do in Lake Titicaca
A special place for us in Lake Titicaca was El Calvario. People gather on top of this peak to watch the sunset. The sky sets itself on fire and it’s just a breathtaking experience, especially if you are sharing it with others. While this experience was epic, it wasn’t the only activity that took my breath away. Below are my suggestions for the top 7 things to do in Lake Titicaca:
- Hike Cerro El Calvario Peak: This is a relatively easy and short hike that offers stunning views of the lake and a spectacular sunset.
- Visit Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Copacabana: A beautiful white colonial-style temple that is one of the most sacred places in Bolivia.
- Spend a Day or Two Exploring Isla del Sol: The island is home to many Inca Ruins and the 360 degree views from the top are very special.
- Take a Day Trip to Isla de la Luna: We didn’t have time to visit this island but we heard that it has many ruins and a beautiful view of the lake. So if you are into archeology, this would be a great place to visit.
- See the Floating Islands: These are man-made islands made of totora reed and shouldn’t be confused with the Uros Floating Islands in Peru.
- Catch your own Trout for Lunch: You can do this at one of the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
- Go on a Boat Ride in Copacabana: Walk around Copacabana Beach and do what the locals do: take a paddle duck boat around the lake.
Where to Stay in Lake Titicaca
There are about 4,000 people living on the islands, in the middle of the lake. One thing to remember is that Lake Titicaca is shared between Peru and Bolivia. Copacabana, the main town on the Bolivian side of the lake, has a population of approximately 6,000 people. This is where we stayed.
At the time of our trip, most of the businesses were closed. It was like a ghost town. Only a couple of hotels and restaurants were open so we didn’t get the opportunity to meet many locals. With only a few hotels open, our choices were limited. If we visit again, we will probably stay in Isla del Sol.
In Copacabana, we can recommend Hostal La Cupula. It’s a beautiful, quirky hostel with Arabic inspired architecture. The hostel is located on the hillside of the lake and offers views of both the lake and the town.
Great Memories on Isla del Sol
Isla del Sol is a special place. I mean, the views are something else and everyone should experience this. There was this cute dog that joined us from the moment we arrived on the island. It was like he was our own guide! The three of us had a picnic at the top and took some photos.
We played with Barry (the name we gave him) for a while in the water and when it was time to leave, he even got on the boat with us. Sadly, we had to say goodbye and go our separate ways but we will always remember Barry!
Need to Know Before you Go
- Bring your hiking shoes, there will be plenty of walking to do
- It can get windy on the lake so bring a jumper to keep you warm
- The most popular totora boats are found in the Uros Islands on the Peruvian side of the lake and not on the Bolivian islands.
- The water is very cold. Remember that Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and it sits at 3,812 meters above sea level.
- If traveling from La Paz, you can take the bus to Copacabana from the Cementerio General de La Paz. Buses leave every 30 minutes but don’t expect them to leave on time. They will leave when all seats are full. The journey takes four hours and a one way ticket costs $2.90 USD.