Some travelers report discomfort when they arrive at Copacabana from lower altitudes. At 3000 meters, Lake Titicaca is much higher than many travelers have ever been, so some shortness of breath is to be expected. Most travelers acclimatize after a good night's rest.
In some cases, travelers may exhibit symptoms of high altitude sickness. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced appetite
Symptoms will usually fade in a day or two, but travelers can take certain precautions to avoid or alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. When traveling to Lake Titicaca, make sure to:
- Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks like Gatorade are helpful as well because they contain sugars, sodium, and electrolytes, which are lost due when you dehydrate.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take your time traveling around the area, don't push yourself.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Coca tea, or coca de mate, is a popular folk remedy for altitude sickness. In severe cases, especially when preexisting medical conditions are present, medical attention may be necessary. Hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca and Turisbus guides have bottled oxygen available should guests have a problem with the altitude.
The weather at Lake Titicaca is consistently mild and fluctuates very little during the year due to the region's elevation. The temperature hovers around 10 degrees all year, although it dips a few degrees during the winter months, June-July and can be as high as 20 degrees during the summer months, November-January.
Rainfall is highest during the summer, while the winter months are very dry.
The temperature tends to dip when the sun sets and the nighttime can get chilly all year long. Travelers should dress in layers, especially if they plan to be out during the early morning or evening.
Bolivia uses the Peso Boliviano, referred to simply as Boliviano, abbreviated Bs. The Boliviano is divided into 100 centavos with coins of 1, 5, 10, and 50 centavos as well as 1, 2, and 5 Bolivianos. Bills are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Bolivianos.
Approximate exchange rates:
- 1 U.S. Dollar = 7.01 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Euro= 9.11 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 British Pound = 10.57 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Canadian dollar = 6.82 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Australian dollar = 7.12 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 New Zealand dollar = 5.77 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Peruvian Nuevo Sol = 2.7 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Brazilian Real = 3.54 Bolivian Boliviano
(Note that the exact rate can fluctuate with the market)
There are ATMs in Copacabana near the central plaza. Islands and small mainland towns do not have ATMs. It is generally advisable for travelers to withdraw currency before arriving at the lake as the ATMs that do exist may be out of service or out of currency. Banks in Copacabana can process wire transfers or change currency.
At full-service restaurants, 10% of the total bill is a typical gratuity. Look for a line that indicates servicio on restaurant bars as the gratuity is sometimes included. Taxi drivers do not expect tips.
Buses arrive in Copacabana at Plaza 2 de Febrero and leave from Plaza Sucre, both near the center of town.
Busses traveling to and from La Paz stop briefly just short of Copacabana to cross the Tiquina Strait by barge. Travelers must exit the bus and cross the strait by ferry. La Paz to Copacabana is 3.5 to 4 hours.
For those traveling on to Puno, or coming to Copacabana from Puno the bus ride is also 3.5 hours, including the half hour or so it takes to cross the border.
Once you're in Copacabana, the town is very easily navigated on foot. Pedi cabs are available in town at the Plaza 2 de Febrero, but you'll find they are not necessary unless you require help with your luggage.