Copacabana in a Glimpse
Buses leave from La Paz cemetery bus terminal; the fare is around Bs16 and travel time is 3-1/2 hours. At the Tiquina Strait, you get off the bus and take a quick ferry ride (Bs1.50) to pick up the bus (which is ferried across by barge) on the other side. Buses arrive in Copacabana at Plaza 2 de Febrero and leave from Plaza Sucre.
Buses also leave from Puno in Peru, and take roughly the same 3-1/2 hours to arrive in Copacabana; half an hour is typically spent at the border, just 5 miles south of Copacabana.
If you take a bus from Cusco to Puno, be aware that the saleswomen on the counters will be dishonest and tell you anything just to sell you a ticket! If you want to travel during the day from Cusco to Copacabana, you will need to spend the night in Puno, no matter what the bus companies tell you! The bus from Cusco to Puno arrives in Puno between 3-4PM. The buses from Puno to Copacabana leave ONLY at 7:30AM and 2:30PM. There are three companies leaving Cusco at 10.00 pm. In all three options you have to change bus in Puno! All of them arrive around 6.00 am in Puno, the bus on to Copacabana leaves at 7.30AM. Vans and/or shared cabs leave for the Peruvian border from Plaza Sucre as soon as they fill up. 3 Bs, 30 minutes. From the border to the Peruvian town of Yungani its about 2 km, 1 Sol by van. From Yungani to Puno buses and vans leave several times every hour, 5 Soles. This way is somewhat slower and less comfortable, but cheaper, than direct buses.
It is possible to get to/from Sorata without going back to La Paz. Get on a La Paz bound bus/minibus/micro from either town, tell the driver you wish to go to Sorata/Copacabana and you will be dropped off at the small lakeside town of Huarina (2 hours from La Paz). Cross the road and wait for a Sorata/Copacabana bound bus/minibus with space to pass. They should honk their horn if they have space and see people waiting, but it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye out and flag one down if you see it first. Best to get started early as you may have a bit of a wait at Huarina - it should still be quicker than going all the way to La Paz then 2 hours back in the same direction though.
This is the original Copacabana -- actually lending its name to the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The name derives from the Aymara kota kawana, meaning "view of the lake", and the region was revered by the Inca even before the Spaniards built their chapel of the Virgin and turned it into a Catholic pilgrimage site.
The town's central square is Plaza 2 de Febrero, and from there Avenida 6 de Agosto slides down to the lakeside. It's packed with souvenir shops, hostels, and restaurants, largely catering to foreign tourists. Avenida Jaregui one block north has a more local feel, with street markets and grocery stores.
The town is quite small, so taxis are hardly needed. From 2 de Febrero, you can hire pedicabs to carry luggage to your hotel.
There is one well guarded bank in Copacabana on Avenida 6 de Agosto, between Plaza 2 de Febrero and the cathedral, with an ATM that only supports cards issued by the bank itself. However, it is possible to withdraw money from ATM machines inside; bring your passport for identification.
There are several cambistas changing dollars, euros or Peruvian soles, but with poor rates. Prodem also change dollars for a better rate and gives cash advances on VISA and mastercard credit cards.
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