A couple of months ago we spent a week in Copacabana, a picturesque town housed on the Bolivian shores of Lake Titicaca. Most people probably don’t stay that long, as it’s used as a stopping off point to and from Peru, but we loved our time there and didn’t want to leave.
Copacabana isn’t as well known as its Brazilian rival but it’s just as charming. Many of the buildings in the town offer beautiful views of the lake, like our hostel La Cupula, and it’s a peaceful village to spend some time.
The scenery all around Copacabana is breath-takingly beautiful with its rolling hills, quaint tiny villages and dusty roads. The best way to explore these places is on foot, so I thought I’d give a rundown of the top five hikes we did around Copacabana.
5 hikes in Copacabana, Bolivia (and surrounding area)
Stations of the cross walk (Cerro Calvario)
This is a great hike to do when you first arrive in Copacabana as it’ll help you to get your bearings over the whole city.
Located at the northern end of the town, the trail to the summit begins near the red chapel at the end of Calle Destacamento 211 and it takes around 35 minutes to hike. Just keep in mind that Copacabana is at very high altitude so you’ll get out of breath quite quickly.
The top of the hill features the 14 stations of the cross and many locals come here to make offerings and pray. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the lake.
On Good Friday this is a busy hike with thousands of pilgrams making the journey on foot from La Paz to Cerro Calvario. And at a total distance of 158km, this is quite impressive!
Distance: Around 1km
Climb to the top of La Horca del Inca
Located on the opposite side of town in the south, La Horca del Inca is located on top of another hill that’s a steep and rocky ascent that’ll take around 45 minutes to get to the very top. (We went past La Horca del Inca for a better view of Copacabana and Lake Titicaca.)
You have to pay about US$1 to hike this path – children will normally ask for your money when you begin the hike.
When you reach the main summit, you’ll see the Horca del Inca which is actually a pre-Incan gate built by the Chiripa culture in the 1300s as an astronomical observatory. Unfortunately many vandals have covered the area in graffitti which destroys its beauty somewhat.
Distance: About 1.5km
Difficulty: Moderate / difficult
Hike on Isla del Sol
We’ve written about the hike on Isla del Sol previously but I thought I’d put it in here because it’s well worth doing. We spent a day hiking around the island and it’s one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been thanks to the fact that cars aren’t allowed on the island.
It’s almost like stepping back in time. Some stretches of the hike are uphill but mostly it’s quite flat.
Distance: Roughly 18km
A day hike to Yampupata village
This was probably my favourite hike of them all, as we were the only ones who seemed to be doing it. It takes around five to six hours (one way) to hike from Copacabana to Yampupata at the end of the spit of land. From here you can take in the view over Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol.
We had a companion for the whole journey – a stray dog we called Henry. He was adorable and when we jumped in a bus to take us back to Copacabana at the end of the hike he jumped in with us! It was heartbreaking to leave him behind. Strangely enough, two days later when we were on Isla del Sol he bounded up to us, greeting us excitedly. He’d been washed and we had no idea how he’d got to the island – we were glad he was ok though!
Anyway, we loved this hike as it takes you through a number of small villages and farming fields, so it’s a great way to get a true sense of how the locals live. Some of it is on a dusty footpath and other parts are on a road, but since there’s hardly any traffic this isn’t a problem.
Just take the road north out of town and follow it along the lake. It’s quite an easy path to find.
Run along the foreshore of Lake Titicaca
We were trying to improve our fitness in Lake Titicaca and so each morning we’d go for a run along the foreshore. The part of Lake Titicaca that’s directly in front of the town is quite disgusting and littered with rubbish but as soon as you’re out of town on the road heading south then it’s cleaner.
It’s quite a pretty run on a dusty road lined with eucalyptus trees and it gives you a vista of the lake as you jog.
Do you have any other hikes or tips to add for Copacabana in Bolivia?