Talk to anyone who has been to South America and you’re likely to hear stories of the breathtaking Machu Picchu, bustling Rio De Janeiro or the vast salt flats of Bolivia but the continent has a number of lesser-known gems which may slip under the radar for any backpackers setting off on the journey of a lifetime.
One of those is the town of Copacabana on the banks of the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. While not as famous as its namesake beach in Brazil, it does attract swathes of adventurers who find themselves in the region and in need of a break from the cramped hostels they’ve become so accustomed to.
Overlooked by the steep El Calvario (Calvary Hill), the town offers a number of luxurious accommodation options which are relatively cheap in price compared to how much their equivalents would cost in Brazil, Chile or Argentina.
Las Olas is one of those places. When you first set foot into Las Olas it feels like you’ve stepped into Smurf Village or the set of a Disney movie. To get to the reception you have to make your way between houses of various shapes and sizes which are all available to rent.
Each house has its own character but they all have similar levels of awe-inducing beauty. You’ll feel like a king or queen no matter which one you choose.
All the colours of the rainbow are accounted for as you follow the garden path overlooking South America’s largest lake.
As you pass, you’ll notice that each uniquely-shaped house comes with its own private lawn, deck chairs and most amazing of all, a hammock. But why keep this level of comfort limited to the outdoors? Should the rain start to pour (which isn’t uncommon in Bolivia), an indoor hammock inside your gaff will keep you relaxed for the afternoon.
Whether you’re cosying up as a couple or hanging out with mates, the nights in South America often get quite nippy so gathering round the indoor fireplace is an ideal way to keep warm.
Or if you’d rather remain outside, why not book the hot tub for an hour in the evening and watch the sun go down over the lake?
As Bolivia generally isn’t a starting point for people on their South American trek, by the time you get there you’ll probably have built up a hankering for a taste of home.
In the town of Copacabana you’ll find just what you’re looking for in the El Condor & Eagle Cafe. While most business-minded Irish expats would usually set up a pub with a large dollop of paddywhackery and diddly-eye, the owner of this place had a different idea altogether.
Originally hailing from Cork, Don’s place caters mostly for early risers rather night owls and his beans on toast, served on delicious soda bread is the perfect way to get your day started.
If you’re lucky enough to visit during the festive season, Don provides round the clock Christmas music to keep that FOMO at bay.
While you’re there feel free to ask Don for accommodation and travel tips for the rest of your stay in Bolivia and South America. He’ll be only too happy to offer his expert advice.
So, back to Los Olas. All prices can be viewed here but generally, a night will cost about 50-70 euro between two people while the teepee suite (below) for seven people will set you back just under €100 BETWEEN you. Sure that’s for nothing! Just make sure to book online a bit in advance to make sure you’re not disappointed.
After a few weeks of carrying a heavy backpack around and sweating buckets in a stuffy hostel, it’s well worth splashing out (would you really call it splashing out?) for two, three or four nights in the lap of luxury.
Tell ’em we sent ya!