In the little town just south of Lake Titicaca, it’s hard to miss the massive terracotta hermit crab shell on the hillside. Upon closer inspection, you’ll also notice a burnt red turtle shell, a teepee, a couple of white washed domes, and plenty of other less-than-usual geometry. So, what exactly are the bizarre structures? They are part of Las Olas — a unique hotel in Copacabana, Bolivia. Book a suite for the night, and you can find yourself sleeping inside a 3-story seashell overlooking Lake Titicaca. Who doesn’t want that?
I spent one night at Las Olas, and can definitely call it luxury on a Bolivian budget. It’s the quirkiest hotel in Copacabana and definitely one of the strangest things to do in Bolivia. Here’s everything you need to know about staying at Las Olas.
Copacabana, Bolivia is a little town to the south of Lake Titicaca. It’s about two hours by bus from Puno (Peru) and four hours from La Paz (Bolivia). Copacabana itself is kind of quirky and cool so long as you get off of Calle 6 de Agosto. You can ride swan boats and Xorbs on Lake Titicaca, go for a short hike, pack yourself to the gills with trout, or spend some time at the local night market. Lake Titicaca’s claim to fame is that it’s the world’s highest navigable lake, sitting some 12,507 ft (3,812 m) above sea level. From the Peruvian side, you can visit Uros – the floating reed island – and experience a bit more local culture. From the Bolivian side, you can take a two-hour boat trip out to the lovely little Isla del Sol to hike across the island and get a serious sunburn.
About Las Olas
Who lives in a sea tower overlooking the lake? Well, it could be you! So what makes Hostal Las Olas so strange?
The Suites: Las Olas has 9 suites ($39-112 based on occupancy), but they’re not like any suites we’ve ever seen before. The oddly shaped terracotta structures of Las Olas decorate the hillside of Copacabana. Visitors can choose between a 3-story snail shell, a spacious sea tower, a high-ceilinged turtle dome, or any of the other bizarrely suites overlooking Lake Titicaca. Each suite is equipped with a private bathroom, kitchen, patio, sleeping area, hammock, and a fair degree of kitschy sea decor. The finer details depend on which suite you book.
Value: Las Olas is the best hotel in Copacabana, no contest. It’s also of incredible value – if you’re traveling as a pair, you can book out an entire private 3-story suite for $54. We think it’s fair to say that you won’t find that good of a deal anywhere else in the world. Read reviews or book a room from $54.
If that’s above your budget, you might consider staying at Hotel La Cupula next door with rooms from $24.
Exploring Lake Titicaca
The main thing to do from Copacabana is to take the day at Isla del Sol. Ferries to Isla del Sol depart at 8:30 am and 1:30 pm with return trips at 10:30 am and 4:00 pm. We recommend finding a boat that drops you off on the north side (Challapampa) where you can explore Incan ruins and check out the museums. From there, it’s about a four-hour hike to the south side of the island (Yumani) where your return boat will pick up.
The hike is easy enough, albeit along hot and high altitude trails. The day trip is worth it for the views.
Prices: The two-hour boat trip costs just BOB 35 (~$5) roundtrip. If you hike across the island, you’ll need to pay a BOB 10-15 (~$2) tax to local officials on the South, Center, and North side.
Wanna stay at Hostal Las Olas?
Phone: 00591 72508668
Address: Avenida 16 de Julio, Copacabana (Lake Titicaca), Bolivia