Cerro Calvario

Take the short hike to this hilltop to enjoy sweeping views of Lake Titicaca and to experience the ancient art of fortunetelling.

Walk to the summit of Cerro Calvario to admire the panoramic views of Lake Titicaca and enjoy one of the most scenic sunsets of South America. The hill rises up from the lakeshore on the northwest corner of Copacabana and is popular with pilgrims and photo-snapping tourists.

A short, rocky trail leads to this hilltop at the edge of the town of Copacabana. You’ll pass several crosses that represent the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), dedicated to the suffering of Jesus. Buy handicrafts and snacks from food vendors along the way.

The hill provides uninterrupted panoramas of Lake Titicaca and Copacabana. Spot Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna in the distance. At sunset the last light of day often illuminates the mystical-looking lake, a spectacular sight.

On holy days, watch local spiritual leaders perform centuries-old fortunetelling ceremonies. They burn incense and place lead in bowls of steaming water, among other rituals. Pilgrims make offerings to the various religious monuments too. This is most common on Good Friday, when thousands of devotees arrive on foot from La Paz. They form a candlelit procession from the Catedral de la Virgin de Candelaria. Once at the summit they request a favor, or forgiveness, from the Virgin. Each August, pilgrims honor the Andean goddess Pachamama (Mother Earth) by offering flowers and burning llama fetuses, or by spraying beer.

Iglesia de Colquepata (Church of Colquepata) marks the start of a trail to Cerro Calvario and is a 10-minute walk from central Plaza 2 de Febrero. Allow about 30 minutes to walk the trail and wear comfortable shoes. The hilltop is at an altitude of about 13,123 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. If visiting at sunset, bring a torch for the way back. Ask locally if it is safe to be out and about at night, because the town’s influx of relatively wealthy visitors in peak season attracts thieves from the whole region.

An alternative way to reach the hilltop, but not recommended at night, is walking along the lakeshore to a steep path that takes you up the hill’s west side.

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