I was a little worried with the idea of crossing over to Peru from Copacabana, Lake Titicaca. The media often paints South America as a place full of armed robberies and theft. My boss over at LivingtheDreamRTW.com for example had all his stuff stolen while he was in Puno, Lake Titicaca in Peru. Knowing this story did not sit well with me.
Of course, while theft and robbery can happen to anyone, common sense and awareness will reduce the odds of that happen. It’s important to always keep your belongings in sight, and avoid any dangerous areas of the city.
During our entire trip from La Paz, Bolivia all the way to Cusco, Peru, we were extra careful with our stuff. If our gut feeling told us something is off, we quickly left that situation immediately. As a result, we had quite an adventure visiting Lake Titicaca and then going to Cusco, Peru afterwards with our belongings being safe and sound.
Going to Copacabana, Lake Titicaca from La Paz, Bolivia
My adventure of crossing over from Copacabana to Peru started in La Paz, Bolivia. Karen, my two sisters and myself took a bus with Bolivia Hop (we paid $51.95 USD that included a boat ride to Isla de Sol) to Copacabana, Lake Titicaca. The ride was interesting because at one point, the bus had to cross over the lake on a platform. Everyone had to get off the bus and take a separate boat to take us across the lake.
In order for the bus to successfully cross over Lake Titicaca, they had to make sure it’s as light as possible. To make sure the bus was light enough, they purposely did not install a toilet. That means having a strong bladder is the utmost importance. If you don’t have a strong bladder, then make sure you don’t drink very much water. (I pee a lot so I just didn’t drink much water to avoid going to the toilet frequently)
After the bus crossed over Lake Titicaca, we were given a quick washroom break. This also gave us the opportunity to to walk around the area and explore a bit. My sisters decided to interact with the locals and try some of their local produce. Many of them are also friendly and are okay with you taking a pictures with them as long as you ask first. (Tipping them is also appreciated)
On our way to Copacabana, there was also a few viewpoints where the bus would stop for everyone to get off and take some pictures.
Copacabana and Isla de Sol
Shortly after completing the Lake Titicaca bus crossing, we arrived in Copacabana. From here, we ate lunch and prepared for our next destination: Isla de Sol.
When booking a bus through Bolivia Hop, we got the option to stay overnight in Copacabana or Isla de Sol before continuing to Peru. We took this option but we weren’t sure yet if we wanted to stay overnight in Isla de Sol which is an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca or if we should stay in Copacabana.
Our decision was to explore Isla de Sol first and if we like it, we would stay there overnight; otherwise, we’d stay in Copacabana instead.
We then took boat to Isla de Sol. Admittedly, the boat ride was quite uncomfortable which is a shame because the Bolivia Hop bus is very comfortable.
Upon arriving in Isla de Sol, we started our hike towards the village on the island.
Trekking to the village in Isla de Sol
Hiking to the village in Isla de Sol was rough! After a horrible boat ride, I was feeling a bit dizzy. Lake Titicaca is also the highest lake in the world with elevation reaching 12,507 ft (3,812 m). The elevation definitely increased the difficulty of the hike. I felt out of breath many times in the trail and had a massive headache thanks to the altitude.
I popped some advil and thankfully made the rest of the hike much more bearable.
My first impression of Isla de Sol is that it kind of looks like the Shire from Lords of the Rings. The whole island is very green with lots of village huts and houses. It’s an excellent place to take pictures or relax if you like staying in rural areas.
Once you get down to the port in Isla de Sol, you can pickup your luggage from the boat and decide if you want to stay in the island overnight or not. I wasn’t feeling it because the locals weren’t exactly friendly and hiking to the Inca ruins was closed because of some conflict with the indigenous living on this island. So, along with Karen, and my sister Eunice, we went back to Copacabana to spend the night. My sister Sharleen wanted to experience staying in the island overnight so she went hunting for a hostel or homestay. (She ended up doing a homestay kind of deal)
Exploring Copacabana before crossing to Peru
Staying in Copacabana turned out to be a great decision. The city is very pleasant with delicious food to eat. We ate our fill of trouts and empanada and also got a chance to walk around the city. It felt safer and the locals were nicer than those living in Isla de Sol.
After my sister returned from Isla de Sol (she didn’t have a great time there because some locals were harassing her), we got our belongings and got ready to board the bus to cross over to Peru.
Turns out our bus was full and we had to take a taxi to the border. Thankfully, the bus company covered the cost or that would have been an annoying experience.
Massive delays in the Peruvian Immigiration office
Clearing immigration in the Bolivian side was a breeze. Our group then walked over to the Peruvian side and that’s when problems started happening.
The lineup in the immigration office wasn’t moving for some reason. After finally reaching the inside the office, we found out why. There is a blackout and they had to suspend operations until power went back on. (I wonder if this is normal in South America?)
We waited for over an hour until they finally decide to start stamping people without electricity. Soon after, everyone got on the connecting bus going to Cusco, Peru.
Bus ride to Cusco
The road to Cusco is a windy one. Many of us felt like puking from the constant twisting and turning from the windy roads. I ate some hard candy which helped reduce the effect of motion sickness. Despite the comfortable bus seats, windy roads definitely make the bus ride uncomfortable.
Unlike the journey from La Paz to Copacabana, our connecting bus had a toilet so we didn’t have to hold in our pee. The bus also stopped partway through the evening in Puno, Peru for us to eat dinner.
The rest of the bus ride to Cusco went by fast as we all slept overnight. As soon as we reached Cusco, the bus company provided everyone with a free taxi ride to our accommodation. (I don’t know any bus company that does that!)
I’m so impressed by the buses in South America, they are the best I have taken so far.
After taking roughly 12 hours from Copacabana to Cusco, we made it! We rested up a full day as we prepared to see what everyone came here to see. Machu Picchu!
The whole journey was interesting to say the least and we were glad to explore Lake Titicaca: the highest lake in the world! I highly recommend everyone to overland between Bolivia and Peru. It’s a worthwhile experience that you won’t regret.