During the time we’ve spent travelling, hiking has become an excellent way to pleasantly fill up a day without breaking the bank. So, when we arrived at Lake Titicaca, we were slightly disappointed to hear that the one notable hike from Copacabana (Lake Titicaca’s main tourist town) took place on Isla del Sol, an island we would have to take a ferry to and from, at a cost.
After a bit of research, we discovered a hike that would take us from Copacabana to Yampupata, a small farming village not yet tainted by the commercial demands of the Bolivian tourist industry. All you have to do is walk north out of Copacabana, following the shores of Lake Titicaca, and the 17km trail will transport you to a rural paradise.
Unfortunately, the transport links back from Yampupata aren’t great, and as we had to be back in Copacabana by 5pm to catch a night-bus, we decided to hitchhike as far as we could along the trail and then turn back and do the walk in reverse. It seemed like a good compromise to avoid getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. We managed to get about 11km out of town by car with the help of some passing locals, which meant our total walk was around 23km.
Most of the information we’ve found online told us that the trail was very easy, and predominantly flat, however we didn’t find this to be the case. The middle section of the hike includes a very significant ascent and walking this at an altitude of 3,800 metres is by no means ‘easy’.
However, we were rewarded with some lovely views along the way and it was fantastic to have the trail all to ourselves. We had been told that Isla del Sol tended to get quite crowded, whereas the path to Yampupata felt completely untouched.
We even befriended a muddy local.
The walk also gave us a glimpse of the famous ‘floating islands’ of Lake Titicaca which we were very pleased we hadn’t opted to travel to by boat as it was pretty apparent these woven reed islands were just tourist traps.
The Yampupata hike was the perfect way to see the lake and experience a bit of the ‘real Bolivia’ without spending a penny. Just make sure you stock up on water and snacks before leaving, because finding a shop or restaurant along the way is going to prove very difficult!