We arrived in Copacabana from Puno with TourPeru, it was the second time that we traveled with this company and have found them to be a nice balance between safe and cheap (s/ 30 each for this trip, no picking up random people on the side of the road and therefore no control checks). This was also the Bolivian border crossing, which had me a little nervous. We had decided to cross at Yunguyo as this border seems to be the most tourist traveled and therefore potentially offer the least amount of issues. The crossing went without any problems. A few things I learned when crossing:
1) Don’t worry about filling out how much you spent on your TAM (Andean Migration Card) this info is used for statistics purposes only and if they ask you at the border just make a rough estimate.
2) Your luggage stays on the bus and doesn’t seem to get checked. I’m not suggesting you smuggle anything illegal in and that they never check this, but it was a relief to know that my tightly packed bag wasn’t going to be dissembled and left for me to put back together while everyone on my bus was waiting.
The border guy at the Bolivian border even had a sense of humor. He asked how I was doing in Spanish, worried that I didn’t hear the question right and that he might be asking me about the one time I attended a meeting of the socialist party of Canada while attending University, I looked back worried at Melissa who was still in line. She told me to say “Muy bien, gracias”. I did and got my stamp for 30 days and the border guy proceeded to jokingly not let me grab my passport, all while smiling. He similarly joked around with Melissa. This amazed me as most of my dealings with border officals have been with the Americans and a sense of humor doesn’t not exist at that border in any form.
We arrived about 30 minutes later in Copacabana, a lot of our bus was going through to La Paz a few hours later but luckily we were going to relax in this simple little resort town at Hostal La Cúpula for a few days and use it as home base for a 3 days trip to Isla del Sol. This Hostel was amazing, we got a double matrimonial for $20 US a night with a view of the beach. Cheaper decent places could be had but we felt like treating ourselves.
One thing to know about Copacabana is that getting money out on North American debit cards can be an issue, especially on the weekends when the bank machines can run dry. So to be safe Mel and I pulled out $300 US each in Puno to cover 3 nights in Copacabana and 2 nights on the Island. We stashed the extra money in various spots and exchanged it at local money exchangers as needed. The banks gave the best exchange rates but we didn’t mind the 6.8 rate we got with some of the local merchants, especially since the banks keep odd hours.
On our second day we did the quick local hike right behind our hostel, Cerro Calvario. It only took us a few hours with lots of breaks and enjoying the views.