Sucre is in Bolivia’s southern highland region and you could be forgiven for thinking that the other large city in Bolivia, La Paz, was its capital but no, its Sucre, the gorgeous white city as its sometimes known.
The Bolivian border from Peru | Our practical guide and more
The Bolivian border crossing was quite a pleasant surprise. We had been expecting it to be a little tricky but it turned out to be a quite simple process. If like us, you tend to do a little research before any major event while travelling you may have read, as we did, that the crossing was difficult and time consuming. We had a very different experience at the Bolivian border and hopefully it will be the same for you.
We found Puno to be an unpleasant place, sorry if that comes across as being a little blunt but that’s just how it was for us. We found very little of interest and our three nights there was far to long. In complete contrast we found Copacabana to be quite pleasant. I’m not saying it was the most exciting place we have ever been however it’s certainly worth a day or two if your not pushed for time.
How did we get to Puno from Cusco?
Puno to Cobacabana and beyond
We believe from our research that in the recent past the Bolivian border crossing from Peru has been a complete nightmare. We had a very different experience. Before that though you need to get some transportation. We usually try and buy our bus ticket the day before just to make sure everything is in place and this was no exception. Puno’s big new transport hub is down by the lake and from what we could find out, there’s only one bus company currently doing the Bolivian border crossing to Copacabana and beyond to La Paz.
The Trans Titicaca bus company has a desk in the centre of the terminal. They run two buses every morning. The first is at six in the morning and the second is at seven. The journey takes two and a half hours plus the time it takes to get everyone on the bus through the two passport controls. The ticket costs 45.00 PEN per person. Try and be at the terminal half an hour before the bus is due to leave and don’t forget to buy your ticket to get through the embarcation gate. There is a little ticket booth just under the stairs. You can’t board the bus without it.
The Bolivian border crossing in detail.
The bus takes you through the Bolivian border at Yunguyo – Kasani. If your going direct from Cusco you may go through the border at Desaguadero, if that’s the case it may be a different process although it should be pretty much the same. Before you get to the border the bus will stop with the pretence of toilets and snacks. There are both of these things there but there also a makeshift money exchange. We checked the rate and it wasn’t too bad so we got rid of whatever Peruvian PEN we had left and got ourselves a few hundred Bolivianos.
The bus then takes you onto the actual border crossing. First stop is the Peru immigration office to get stamped out of the country and this was quite straight forward as long as you have not forgotten your passport and have not over stayed in Peru. One lady on our bus had overstayed her ninety days and received a fine. Unfortunately you have to pay the fine at an office away from the border so we didn’t see her again. The bus doesn’t wait if your paperwork is not in order.
If you’re at the front of the queue you then walk through the arch into Bolivia and the Bolivian border immigration control where you need to get your passport stamped into the country. Here, theoretically you should be asked to produce your passport with your new stamp, prove that you have had your covid jabs and show your yellow fever card. The official however only asked for our passport and where we where staying in Bolivia. We provided the information that he asked for then he stamped us up and that was that. All over and done with in a few mins.
He did however give us a little slip with a QR code on it to a website where you need to log everywhere you stay in Bolivia. We have kept this up to date. It says you can get a fine if you don’t so best to do it and it only takes a couple of minutes. Once that’s done your in and it’s just a matter of waiting for everyone to go through the same process, the bus then carries on to Copacabana.
There is a one hour time difference between the two countries. Most phones will update automatically so it shouldn’t be an issue but just in case you’re rushing to get somewhere it’s good to know in advance.
Copacabana a short guide to the town
The bus drops you off at the crossroads of the two main streets next to the Trans Titicaca bus office. If you are going on to La Paz we believe you have an hour or two stop here as the bus does’t leave for La Paz until 1.30pm. If, like us, you have still got your Peruvian sim in your phone you’ll have no signal. The cafe next to the bus office has wifi and cake. There are also a couple of places in the town where you can change your sim, we choose Entel as we learned it was the best one with the widest coverage and so far it’s been ok but not brilliant.
There are also a number of ATM’s in the town although all of then charged commission to withdraw, so if you can wait until La Paz to get more cash. For us the cheapest way to withdraw was with Lynne’s Revolut card so if you have one perhaps use it, cost us two percent.
Where to stay in Copacabana?
What to do In Copacabana
Sun and Moon islands
The main reason to visit are the two islands The islands of the sun and moon but there are a number of small walks you can do around the town that should keep you occupied for a couple of days.
One word of warning about visiting the islands, we didn’t get to visit moon island as from what we could make out you can only get there by private boat. All the tour operators, of which there are many gave us a different reason why we couldn’t go on a tour, either the wrong day or some said it was only open at weekends. Either way they want your money, so if you can afford a private boat they will take you.
Sun island is much bigger and the usual plan is to get the boat to the north of the island and walk the six kilometres to the port at the south of the island and the boat picks you up from there and takes you back to Copacabana. Again we found it very difficult to get a straight answer about which boat operators did this route.
For us it ended up a bit of a disaster as the boat we ended up on told us he’d take us north but ended up dropping everyone off at the south dock. The moral of this story is check your ticket, don’t buy at the dock in Copacabana buy at one of the tour offices in town and make sure your clear about what you are buying.
A walk up to Cerro Calvario
You can walk up Cerro Calvario, this is the hill on the right side of the bay. It has great views back down over the town, be warned though it’s not very well maintained and it’s a little dirty on top. When we walked up, there were locals carrying heavy stones up to the top as some kind of pilgrimage. This is where the locals religious beliefs get a little confused. The walk up is adorned with crosses symbolising Christ’s struggles with the cross culminating in his cruxifixction, ninety percent of Bolivians are catholic. However once at the top you can buy offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth); things like toy cars. These are then burnt in the hope that Mother Earth will look kindly on you and you’ll get a new car in the near future.
Horca del Inca
Up behind the town is the interesting La Horca del Inca which is a view point with a supposedly Incan Astronomical link. It’s a nice walk up through some amazing rock formations to two natural rock pillars with a stone lintel across the top which we assumed is where the said Incan people would stand to view the stars. It all seemed a little far fetched to us but we enjoyed the walk up and the views
Back in town at the main square is a quite extraordinarily large church for the size of the town. The Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana was built in the sixteen hundreds and houses a picture of the Virgin of Copacabana the patron saint of Bolivia.
About the food
We couldn’t really find a good restaurant in the town. It’s mainly pizza and burgers and the usual fried chicken places that you find all over South America some are really good, but unfortunately that was not the case here. We mainly survived on bar snacks and street food. The Salteñas are quite good it’s like an empanada but with a sweetish filling with chicken or beef.
Booking resources for your stay in Copacabana
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
Some of the links on this page contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or services we write about. You will never be charged a fee for shopping through one of our affiliate links. You may even get a discounted rate and we will make a small commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships.
When your sat watching rubbish on the telly and someone says, only aliens could have created such intricate patterns your interest peaks.
When you think of La Paz Bolivia most people tend to think this is the capital of Bolivia, I know I did, but in fact its only the administrative capital with the true capital of the country being Sucre.