Linking the borders of Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is South America’s largest lake, and at 12,510 feet (3,813 meters), it’s also the world’s highest navigable body of water. From the colorful town of Copacabana to windswept islands, Lake Titicaca dazzles with proud culture, reflected Andean peaks, and hearty meals of fresh-caught trout.
The Bolivian gateway to Lake Titicaca is the historic city of Copacabana, which can be reached from La Paz as part of a day trip or overnight journey. Here, steep streets lead straight to the edge of the water, where visitors gather for platters of lake trout served in open-air restaurants. To get some perspective on Lake Titicaca’s glorious scenery, however, it’s worth heading out on the water.
Among the most popular options are boat trips to Sun Island (Isla del Sol) and Moon Island (Isla de la Luna), with hiking trails, Inca ruins, and traditional villages. Sleeping in a Sun Island village is an unforgettable experience, as well, offering the chance to meet locals where they live and work—and the stargazing is unbeatable.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Intense sun and unpredictable weather mean that temperatures can vary dramatically in a single day, so bring layered clothing.
- Many boats to Sun Island feature an open-air top deck with fabulous views, but a brimmed hat and sunglasses are a must if you want to ride up top.
- Lake Titicaca’s high elevation can be taxing, especially if you’ve just arrived in Bolivia, so plan to move slowly and drink plenty of water.
How to Get There
The 95-mile (154-kilometer) trip from La Paz to Copacabana takes roughly four hours, and options include private or group tours, buses, and minibuses. However you travel, you’ll likely disembark while crossing the Strait of Tiquina. Vehicles travel by car ferry, while passengers board a smaller boat and rejoin drivers on the other side. If you’re visiting Lake Titicaca with a private driver, it’s possible to combine the journey with a stop at Tiwanaku.
When to Get There
Bolivia’s winter dry season runs from May through October, when clear, cold weather comes to Lake Titicaca. November through March brings rain and warmer temperatures, and trails can be muddy, but tours to Lake Titicaca operate year-round.
Traveling to Peru Via Lake Titicaca
If you’re continuing to Peru after your time in Titicaca, it’s possible to take a bus from Copacabana to Puno, the main town on the Peruvian side of the lake. Tours from La Paz to Puno offer the convenience of coordinated ground transport, boat trips, and activities to maximize your sightseeing time during the journey.