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Copacabana, Titicaca Lake and Island of the Sun

Copacabana is located 150 km. from La Paz and it is on the Lake Titicaca. It is a major pilgrimage and tourist center in Bolivia. A must for learning about the culture and traditions of the Titicaca Lake people.

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Copacabana is the gateway to Titicaca Lake. Thousands of pilgrims arrive in Copacabana Basilica to venerate the Virgin and walk around the lake.

How to get to Copacabana and Titicaca Lake

Copacabana is located 150 km. of La Paz. The bus companies Manco Kapac and Transporte 2 de Febrero have several daily frequencies from the city of La Paz, departing from Cemetery of La Paz. The trip takes 3.30 hours. There are also some travel agencies that organize daily transfers to Copacabana.

Church of the Virgin of Copacabana

It is one of the most important and visited temples in Bolivia. Its construction started in 1601. The temple architecture blends Renaissance and Baroque styles. Inside, its main altarpiece is colonial baroque. Behind the altar is the famous Camarin de la Virgen (Virgin's Dressing Room), attracting pilgrims from all over Bolivia. Another touristic sight in the cathedral is the Chapel of Candles, a place where all believers go to light a candle to the Virgin. Some days are devoted to the "Bendicion de las Movilidades", where people go to bless their cars.

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Church in Copacabana

El Calvario

The Calvary is located at the top of a hill, 900 meters away from the center of Copacabana. Climbing this hill is a tradition with the pilgrims especially for Easter or the day of the Virgin. From the top, an unforgettable landscape of the lake and its surroundings. (See Calvary Traditions).

Copacabana is located 3,800 meters above sea level and Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world.

Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol)

Sun's Island is located on Titicaca Lake, an hour and a half by boat from the center of Copacabana. Legend has it that on this island Manco Capac and his wife (Mama Ocllo) began the Inca dynasty, then leaving to found Cuzco. There are several boats that travel to Island of the Sun departing from the coast of Copacabana in the morning and by midday, returning in the afternoon. While the ride can be done in one day, we advise you to stay at least one night to discover the island's attractions.
During the Inca period, the Island of the Sun was a sanctuary with a temple dedicated to the Sun God. Today the island is inhabited by indigenous Quechua and Aymara, engaged in agriculture, tourism, crafts and grazing. In addition to Spanish residents speak Aymara and Quechua.

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Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol)

The island is especially known for hiking and for its various archaeological sites and to have contact with the residents. Sun Island has a small archaeological museum, several hostels and canteens.

Trekking to Yampupata

This is an interesting journey of 17 km. that can be done in about four hours. This road, with rock formations and ancient Inca trails, passes across different villages. On this journey you will arrive to Sicuani and Yampupata, where you can take a boat and spend the night in the nearby Island of the Sun (see above).

Travel Information about Copacabana, Titicaca Lake and Island of the Sun

The Tradition of Copacabana's Calvary

From early morning every day (including weekends), and especially during holidays, you can see pilgrims and visitors ascending to the Calvary leaving pebbles in each station on the way.

Another custom still maintained is the native "priests" incense and blessings. These ceremonies mix Catholicism with the native costumes. While invoking the Virgin and the achachilas the “priests” send blessings and offer a good future for those who request their services for a few pesos. They are located half way up the hill.

Further on, at the top of the hill, you will find a number of traditions, especially during the holiday, where believers are buy (miniature craft) toy homes, vehicles and money, to then bless them so that the takeover becomes real.

At the end of the ordeal, you will see places where land is sold symbolically, and where people build their houses with pebbles and put their vehicles and even gardens. Custom says that all this becomes real if the person asks in faith to the Virgin. Finally, from the top of the hill visitors can enjoy unique natural sights.

Titicaca Lake (Lago Titicaca)

Titikaka Lake is virtually and inland sea. The highest navigable lake in the world, origin of ancient Andean cultures, the lake is surrounded by a chain of high mountains with eternal snow.

This huge amount of water has two parts connected by the Straits of Tiquina Minor (or Wiñaymarca) Lake and Maggiore (or Chucuito) Lake. There lies the Copacabana Peninsula, the main attraction of the region, with valuable religious relics of the past pre-Columbian America lands.

The lake, belonging to Peru and Bolivia, is located north of Plateau (Altiplano) and covers an average area of 8,300 km2, with a length of 165 km and a maximum width of 60 km.

The deepest part of Lake Titicaca was found in the northeast of Bell Island (Isla Campanario), located on Maggiore Lake, with a deepness of 274 meters.

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Travel Copacabana, Island of the Sun, Titicaca Lake


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