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This is most pleasant and gentle introduction you can have to any South American country. Copacabana is a little lake resort a few minutes away from the Peruvian border, and I mean little: there is no ATM (one place does cash advances), and you will not need the use of a taxi during your stay.
Altitude is 3,841 km (12,601 feet).
Chance Of Hooking Up Rating: 2 out of 5 ?
Start climbing the hill that dominates town around 4:30-5PM for a nice sunset view (if you get lucky with clouds). It would be a good idea to attempt the strenuous 30-minute climb after you acclimatize yourself to the monster altitude.
Down on the lake you can rent all sorts of water craft, including huge kayaks for $2.50 an hour.
Copacabana’s biggest draw is Isla del Sol (Sun Island), two hours away by vomit boat (you’ll understand what I mean by the end of the ride). Catch the morning ferry at 8:15AM from the dock and hike to the ruins 15 minutes away from docking on the north side of the island. The ruins are pretty pathetic, especially after a visit to Cuzco, Peru, so don’t bother with getting a ticket and just admire the feebleness from a distance. Once you exit the site, hop on the trail to the right for a mild three hour hike to the city of Yumani, which has a port with your 4PM boat ride back to town. If you miss the ride back then you are totally fucked. Ha just kidding, there’s lodging on the island, though I don’t see why anyone would want to stay overnight.
Pueblo Viejo, located on Avenida 6 de Agosto a block up from the lake, is more restaurant than bar but it draws the hippy crowd on weekend nights. Other restaurants are also found on the street, many of which seem to have identical menus and the same unhygienic practices. The town’s best bar is Akwaaba (up the hill on the same side as Pueblo Viejo), a very chill place with drums for you to bang. There is some late-night activity on the weekends at Waykys, a bar on the corner of Av 16 de Julio and Busch.
Los Andes (Av Busch)
$4/night for single room. This hotel is hard to miss a half block up Av Busch from the lake. Large spacious rooms, some of which have lake views. Pleasant staff and sometimes hot water showers.
Copacabana On The Blog
I had a prize-less contest asking my readers to guess how much a night at the hotel cost. The post includes pictures.
Other Cities In Bolivia
If you're only going to visit only Bolivia then I recommend you get this guide, which is far more detailed than the continental guide below, with options that cater to a range of budgets instead of only the shoestring backpacking crowd. Also it gives more respectable treatment to small cities and towns that the larger guide breezes over with a paragraph or two.
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.